Book Review: Less Than Zero & Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis


 Going in to Less Than Zero, I was not even aware that there was a sequel. But I had of course seen the 1987 film, and was really looking forward to reading the original story. I was not prepared, initially, for the melancholy tone of the book. But at around 100 pages in, I began to relish it. The tone and writing style reminded me of The Bell Jar, along with its easy to read format.

If you've only seen the film Less Than Zero, not much will be spoiled for you plot wise, as it's nothing like the book. Perhaps the overall mood is the same, and the film is beautifully shot. But you're in for an almost completely different story within the book. When I finished it, I wanted to know what happens to Clay after college, and was not left wondering long, having read shortly afterwards that there was indeed a sequel called Imperial Bedrooms. Read on...


I did not have high hopes for Imperial Bedrooms, as I was left with a rather flat feeling after reading Less Than Zero. I understood what was different about Bret Easton Ellis' writing style, for it to have been so well received in 1985, but I just didn't find it that impressive. So going in to Imperial Bedrooms, I just thought I'll find out what happens to Clay, and it will be a quick read. The book is set (in real time) 25 years after the end of Less Than Zero.

A quick read indeed. I was able to finish it within 24 hours. Quite a feat for me, as I'm a busy lady and tend to be a bit of a slow reader. The first half of the book absolutely flew by, and I inhaled the first 100 pages in nothing flat. 25 years makes a good writer even better, at least one would hope, and this is certainly the case for B.E.E.

The second half of the book did not fare so well for me, I found it tedious and drawn out. The 'murder mystery' plot line running through it had become wearisome. Perhaps this is because Imperial Bedrooms was at first just a short story, later fleshed out to novella length. It shows. But that's just my non-expert opinion. That being said, I enjoyed it more than Less Than Zero, but I seem to be in the minority in that opinion. So read it for yourself and see which camp you're in.

Oh...one more thing...the event which occurs within the last 10 pages or so put me off my food. Perhaps that's just my sensitive nature, but you have been warned.