Dani Peloquin's Reviews > Less Than Zero

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
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May 11, 12


Last week, Bret Easton Ellis' sequel to Less than Zero hit bookshelves across the country to the delight of Ellis' fans and many critics. While I enjoyed the film American Psycho, I had never read anything by Ellis and was disappointed that I hadn't done so. But with the sequel coming out, I felt that it was time! I have read numerous books on sex, drugs, and disobedient teens so I had limited expectations for this novel. Overall, I thought that the novel was decent (and certainly impressive that he was only 20 when he wrote it) though had grown a bit stale with age. I can understand it’s inclusion in the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die because it completely optimized the time, culture, and lifestyle of the 1980s. Many have gone as far as to describe it as the Catcher in the Rye of the generation x-ers. I believe such a comment is a great overstatement, for though it was good and an accurate depiction of the time, I doubt that high school students will be reading it in another 25 years (or even now).

The novel follows Clay on his return home to LA for Christmas break after being away at college in Vermont. Before moving to Vermont, Clay was a spoiled rich boy whose idea of a good time was drinking, drugging, and getting laid by either men or women. Though he had a steady girlfriend, neither of them were exclusive. When Clay returns to this group of friends, who stayed in the area to go to college, he realizes that his fast and hard living is not as fulfilling as it had been. He tries to grapple with his broken family life, heal the rift and poor feelings with his girlfriend, and save his best friend from physically and emotionally killing himself. Yet, things do not go as planned and flashbacks to a happier time in his childhood make him wonder if this life in LA is what’s best for him.

Clay is part of the MTV generation who are narcissistic and self-destructive to the extreme. Therefore, the majority of the characters are not likable. In fact, I found myself having difficulty even finishing the book because I was so appalled by their behavior. When I first picked up the book, I thought that I would be ale to fly through the 224 pages. However, the subject matter and disgusting characters made me put down the book more than I would have liked. Though it was interesting, the novel does not seem to have stood the test of time. When it was released, rich kids were pissed that their once secret habits were suddenly out in the open. Yet as time passed, the 1980s became publicly known as the age of heroin, MTV, cocaine, poor parenting, and vanity. Thus making this novel proof of the values during that time but lacking in bringing any new insights to the table.

Reviews state that Imperial Bedrooms will show the characters where they are today and update the reader on each of their lives. Personally, despite some positive reviews, I am no longer interested in these characters. I did not find them to be dynamic and over the past couple of days I have almost forgotten them entirely. Overall, it’s worth I read if you have the interest and ability to appreciate it for the time in which it was written.

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