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The Rules of Attraction

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  41,880 ratings  ·  1,415 reviews
Set at a small, affluent liberal-arts college in New England at the height of the Reagan 80s, The
Rules of Attraction is a startlingly funny, kaleidoscopic novel about three students with no plans
for the future--or even the present--who become entangled in a curious romantic triangle. Bret
Easton Ellis trains his incisive gaze on the kids at self-consciously bohemian Camden
Paperback, 326 pages
Published April 1st 2011 by Picador USA (first published September 1987)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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 ·  41,880 ratings  ·  1,415 reviews

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Jul 31, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The following is a true story.

I was staying over at the boy's house. We were post-coital and all of a sudden he remembered he had to go to a friend's house and party with him for four hours. I opted to wait for him in his bedroom. This was uncommon because whatever, it was just sex, we didn't wait around for each other. But I was in between places, so I didn't have much of a choice. I went down to the kitchen and found The Rules of Attraction on the stove. I opened it up in the middle while eati
Jeffrey Keeten
”So I stand against the wall, listen to REM, finish the beer, get more, keep my eye on the Freshman girl. Then some other girl, Deidre I think her name is, black spiked hair that already looks dated and trendy, black lipstick, black fingernail polish, black kneesocks, black shoes, nice tits, okay body, Senior, comes over and she’s wearing a black halter top even though it’s like forty below in the room and she’s drunk and coughing like she has T.B., swigging Scotch. I’ve seen her stealing Dante ...more
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
& so I thought that after college this would be less impressionable & a tad less impressive. Boy was I wrong. I am still completely enraptured by this novel in which characters DON’T change (breaking 1 of the main cardinal rules of all literature—to make protagonists experience change—Ellis is intrepid). The details in this are perfect and absolutely hilarious--80's encapsulated brilliantly. You end up rooting for the sleaziest of antagonists—nobody in Camden deserves redemption and most actions ...more
Jonathan Ashleigh
This book may have sounded contrived to some, but to me it was exactly the way I remember being and feeling in college. The dorm, cafeteria and party scenes are brilliant and so are the fast travel sections. When I recently read The Sorrows of Young Mike, it felt like a sequel because the characters were also nihilistic college students, horny and self-involved. It, along with The Rules of Attraction, touches on similar issues that hardly affect the main characters, as they are busy thinking abo ...more
Kevin Kelsey
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
Posted at Heradas

Whenever I’m the mood for fiction about first world problems, unloved rich kids and the fucked up lives they lead, I reach for something by Bret Easton Ellis. I get on a serious kick for this kind of stuff sometimes. Transgressive fiction, I’ve heard it called. Maybe it’s soothing to my soul to think that an abundance of money doesn’t necessarily alleviate our problems. Maybe I get a heavy slathering of schadenfreude by reading representations of the most fortunate among us endu
mark monday
Ellis is one of those authors that seems to grow in stature as time marches on. i see him on so many Favorite Author lists and i just have to roll my eyes a bit. personally, he'll always be the author i laughed at on a regular basis: hilariously pretentious and embarrassingly convinced that pretension equals depth. American Psycho? sorry, the film version was a better portrait of capitalist consumerism and had the intelligence to re-route the author's misogyny so that it existed solely within th ...more
Steven Godin
Jan 31, 2021 rated it liked it

I've never really been a fan of multiple narrators in a novel. Switching character voices every 20-30 pages or so wouldn't have been so bad, but here it happens sometimes in as little as 2-3. To me it felt driving along a stretch of road that had traffic lights every 100 metres. I just want to get moving! There was no flow here. Pity, as my last outing with Bret Easton Ellis was simply superb. There was rarely a dull moment in Glamorama, and the shift in story about halfway through was one of th
At first glance, this book is pointless. It's an endless loop of drugs, sex, and parties. It has no plot, it begins and ends in the middle of a sentence, there are too many characters strewn about, too many labels, too many songs, too many places. You finish the book and for a moment you think 'wait - what? That's it?' but you realize yes, that is, in fact, 'it'. The apathy Ellis invokes in his readers, shows in his characters, is still masterfully done. He breezes past topics like suicide and a ...more
May 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: college students
This was my introduction into the world of Bret Easton Ellis, and I fell hopelessly in love.
I couldn't believe that someone could put together a written work, which not only emanates the characters hyper-sexed-over-zealous-self-conscious-unaware-searching-for-love-not-knowing sadness, but uses language to reinforce its themes. It would seem confusing, but at my first read, it was what I was feeling at that moment (minus the drugs, those came later). Rules of Attraction, at its base, is a novel a
Neil Walker
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A tale of hedonism from Bret Easton Ellis, filled with sex and drugs.

Bret Easton Ellis is of my biggest influences as an author and this is probably the Bret Easton Ellis novel that most influenced Drug Gang. It contains similar themes and social commentary. To quote from the book itself, “I think we've all lost some sort of feeling.”

This postmodern masterwork gives great insight into the possible impact and outcomes of a nihilistic mindset.
Tylah Marie
My friend lent me this book and I was super excited because we're trying this new thing where we lend each other a book to read every month... and this was the first one of our new little reading adventure.

I was bored. Insanely bored. It felt like someone was literally yelling gibberish so fast into my ear that I almost couldn't understand them at all.

I tried to enjoy this. I did. I read 50 pages the first day and then I just decided to read the rest of it in one sitting because I knew if I put
Feb 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016

3.5 Stars

The Rules of Attraction is one of those stories that makes you feel slightly uneasy while reading it. It had the feel of both A Clockwork Orange and Trainspotting in the sense that it is so over the top and risqué. The Rules of Attraction is unlike anything that I have ever read before.

I had never read anything from Bret Easton Ellis before, although American Psycho has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time now. I came across The Rules of Attraction at a local thrift shop and I r
Jul 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
People who did not like this book simply did not understand it. While this book has the ability to stand on it's on, the real genius is how it acts ad a platform that allows ellis's characters (from all other works) to interact with one another outside the narcissism that confines their own stories. Those who complain that this book lacks plot or character growth, have failed to ask why that is. This book is an introspective account, told in first person narrative, from various (mainly three) pe ...more
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
'The Rules of Attraction' is a dark satire that follows the lives of hedonistic and unsympathetic college students. Centred around an unusual love triangle between its three protagonists; the novel is a multi-perspective tale that depicts different forms of desperation and abrasiveness. Packed with page-turning scandal and sharp narration, the book is a strangely intoxicating read that moves from one sensational event or bizarre tragedy to another. Although it's crammed with plenty of action and ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

He loves her, but used to do it with him, who used to do it with her, who is still pining away for a different him who is currently in Europe thinking about a different her, or is she still really hung up on the him who used to do it with her current him????? Told in a free association style of rambling diary-like entries, Sean, Lauren and Paul talk about the hits and misses in their respective love lives while attending college in New
50th book of 2020.

This is probably the worst time to read Ellis, as he's so damn depressing. Disaffection is the perfect word for his books, the way you feel when you're reading them. (I must say, also, how great is this cover? Not sure why it is, but I think it's great.)

Despite this, by Goodreads standards, has the same rating as Less Than Zero, American Psycho and Lunar Park, I think this has been the best Ellis yet. Let me try to explain. American Psycho is just Less Than Zero on some serious
Jul 12, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the most depressing, nasty book I've read in a long time. I read it all in one go last night, since I have a hard time not finishing books once I start them, but I couldn't stand the thought of having to come back to it. There may be some literary merit to the book that I can't appreciate it because I'm so repulsed by the characters, but I rather doubt it. The book certainly captures the complete lack of affect and total self-absorption of the characters, as well as the compulsive, endle ...more
Nov 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
''He likes him. He likes her. I think she likes someone else, probably me. That’s all. No logic.''


Hella horny college kids. Also huge cunts, huge narcissists. The movie, which i adore and own on DVD, is way better.
Love the weird BEE *Bret Easton Ellis* universe.

''-I was in that class too.
-I didn't ever see u in there.
-That's why i failed it.''

Bruh, such a mood.

Fuuuuck, i miss uni. Yes granted i went to class and then after like 1-2hours left to go to a cafe but still. Online classes ain'
Jan 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who loved and miss the 80s
I loved the Roger Avary film version of this book, so I felt like I owed it to myself to read it. That said, the two are very, very different, and as much as it pains the book snob in me to say it, the movie was far superior. Maybe it's because the setting of the book (the mid-80s) feels so obviously dated, or because the characters seem so schizophrenic, but I just felt like the movie was a little more...real.

Honestly, it probably hurt to have gone into the book having seen the film many, many
Tim O'Hearn
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I spent about a year and a half reading this book, which worked out quite well. Like Less Than Zero, the existence of a plot here is one step above accidental--a brusque necessity. Crucial to keep things moving, but negligible if you decide to take a fourteen-month leave of absence from Brett Easton Ellis.

I suspect I stopped reading the book because it contains incessant co-ed droning, and, more than a little, made me feel that I spent too many of my college days reading books. In picking it bac
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the beginning of the year, I decided that in 2020 I would devote some time to working through my sprawling to-read list, whether that meant actually reading the books or throwing them out. A second-hand copy of The Rules of Attraction had been sitting on my shelves for years, and I rather thought I might have missed the moment to read and/or enjoy it. Perhaps rather embarrassingly, though, I loved it. It's nihilistic, sure, but also SO well observed, hyper-quotable, and parts of it had me in ...more
Mar 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
One of the best books on insight. The setting makes this book even more pleasurable-a college campus in the 80s. We've all contemplated simple questions like "Does my best friend secretly hate me?" or "Does my boyfriend think about someone else when he's sleeping with me?". This book makes your insides squirm with embarrassment in the most hilarious form. There's so many great things about this book-the ending, the graphic sex scenes and how Victor is really a boring piece of shit. You never get ...more
Rachel Louise Atkin
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
This was so good. Not as good as American Psycho, but better than Less Than Zero. Following a group of friends as Camden Collage it details their life of partying, drugs, booze and sex. It was seriously amazing. Clay was in it and so was Patrick Bateman which made me very happy. Plus Donna Tartt reference!
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Too pretentious and pseudo decadent book even for me. I am more than okay with the suffering of the characters and huge amounts of sex but only if these things have some, any kind of meaning for the whole plot. And in The Rules of Attraction there is no such thing as meaning. I get it that Ellis wants to tell us exactly that about the lives of the so-called lost generation of the 80`s but I am sure that story could be told in much more elegant and why not interesting way. ...more
This review is coming from my 19/20 year old self. Because that is when I first read it, and when it had the most impact on my tender brain.

I guess this was my first big lit read. Jodi Picoult, Marian Keyes (whom I still love), Pauline Simmons, a little bit of Michael Connelly and Patricia Cornwell were my main diet. These are 'nice' authors,they write about love, drama, family, murder, all very plot driven. You read it once put it away and forget about them.

'Rules of Attraction' is not a nice
Christina Stind
Dec 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
And here I thought all New England had to brag about is the Patriots - turns out they have some really happening colleges - or at least had in the 80s, where Brett Easton Ellis' story of sex, drugs, rape, abortion and suicide takes place.
The story is told from a lot of different perspectives, but mainly we follow Lauren, Paul and Sean. Lauren, who has dated Paul but after Paul and Sean are no long dating, dates Sean - but still they all 'see' other people. In the beginning, it's hard to figure o
Oct 19, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I preferred the movie. i never prefer the movie.
Jun 12, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone looking for a little dark comedy
Shelves: 2007, general-fiction
Although I've always intended to read Ellis' American Psycho, I read this book today in an entirely unintended way (my Little's fiance brought two books with him to Ohio State University's graduation ceremony and he let me borrow the one he wasn't reading). It's definitely a very interesting book, from its purpose to the way it's executed.

The Rules of Attraction mainly follows three members of a love triangle - Lauren, Paul, and Sean - while fleshing out the story with some interjections from ot
Aug 24, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: no-simply-no
In some books nothing really happens, but it doesn't make the book any less appealing since the characters or situations are so engaging. This, to me, is unfortunately not one of these books. The book is told from the perspectives of various protagonists in a diary-like style on their lives in college over a relatively short period of time (a semester, maybe less). It seems to lean heavily on the 'shock value' of the characters' lives filled with casual sex and drug use. To me, it does not succe ...more
Jun 25, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hate Bret Easton Ellis. This book isn't the only reason, but it was the beginning of my distate for his pretentious observations on terrible people who do terrible things with societies blessing. Whether I'm missing the point or just not the intended audience for his tripe, I ask you why anyone would want to spend the time it takes to read his novels with these characters. ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Add reciprocal ACE references 1 12 Aug 27, 2019 01:45PM  
Disappear Here: Favorite Bits 1 12 Aug 14, 2014 05:56AM  
Bespoke: The Rules of Attraction 15 32 Jun 17, 2014 12:15PM  
Disappear Here: T.V. Series 1 10 May 24, 2014 10:14AM  
The WTF? Book Club: The Rules of Attraction - Bret Easton Ellis (March Book Selection) 3 45 May 23, 2013 03:53AM  
Lit Muse: The Rules of Attraction 1 22 Oct 13, 2011 07:22PM  

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Bret Easton Ellis is an American author. He is considered to be one of the major Generation X authors and was regarded as one of the so-called literary Brat Pack, which also included Tama Janowitz and Jay McInerney. He has called himself a moralist, although he has often been pegged as a nihilist. His characters are generally young vacuous people, who are aware of their depravity but choose to enj ...more

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“Got you. You're mine now. For the rest of the day, week, month, year, life. Have you guessed who I am? Sometimes I think you have. Sometimes when you're standing in a crowd I feel those sultry, dark eyes of yours stop on me. Are you too afraid to come up to me and let me know how you feel? I want to moan and writhe with you and I want to go up to you and kiss your mouth and pull you to me and say "I love you I love you I love you" while stripping. I want you so bad it stings. I want to kill the ugly girls that you're always with. Do you really like those boring, naive, coy, calculating girls or is it just for sex? The seeds of love have taken hold, and if we won't burn together, I'll burn alone.” 248 likes
“What does that mean know me, know me, nobody ever knows anybody else, ever! You will never know me. ” 220 likes
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