12 July 2014

Book Review: Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Man, this was disturbing.

I have read several of Bret Easton Ellis' novels before, including American Psycho, The Rules of Attractions, and Lunar Park. In all of these novels, there seem to be this weird other-worldly element to it, something that I could possibly summarize as What the fuck are these characters doing?

See, the characters of these novels all seem disconnected with the social norms that we typically are familiar with. And this debut novel is not an exception. Less than Zero has a protagonist, Clay, who is a college student who goes to school in New Hampshire, but is back in Los Angeles for Christmas Break. He has a psychotherapist, he has a drug dealer, and he has messed up friends.

And in less than 200 pages, this novel has managed to shock me, and after reading the book, I wonder what the heck did I just read?

See, I was disgusted, repulsed, and overall, I hated reading the descriptions of drug use, prostitution, and vice. The author never condones nor chastises its characters, taking instead a hands-off approach to the hedonist behavior of his characters. Perhaps that was what disturbed me. Because his characters definitely would provoke a strong reaction, either positive or negative, to bystanders, should these events happen in real-life instead of just within the pages of a book. But perhaps there is a point to all of this.

See, if people get shocked, then people think. And this is what I like about it. Perhaps we have become so complacent, that we don't care anymore if our rich teenage children have a drug-dealer on speed-dial. Perhaps we don't care about our children anymore, with parents spending time away from their children, and this book tries to emphasize the negative effects of that on our youth. Perhaps that is the point of all this.

Overall, I loved this novel. I definitely recommend this to anyone who wants some profound moments after reading this. It is a quick read, but it will make your head active for a long time after you put this book down.

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