Imperial Bedrooms

Bret Easton Ellis

Jaws 2, Return to Oz and Friday the 13th Part X. Sequels equal trouble and, unfortunately, this follow-up to Less Than Zero (the novel, not the film) is no exception. The characters who defined a generation fueled by drugs and sex and devoid of emotions and morals are back, but they lack the punch that they carried 25 years ago. The protagonist, Clay, now a Hollywood writer, once again returns to Los Angeles and the friends and lovers that he’s tried to leave behind. Where Less Than Zero shocked readers with a cavalier attitude toward horrible violence and sexual assault, Ellis’ sequel creates an apathetic behavior using text messages and a whodunit mystery surrounding prostitute/pimp Julian’s murder. Though Clay wanders through a life of casual sex and impending danger, we can’t help but feel our own apathy rise. Is it the author’s intention to show how desensitized we’ve become by presenting us with a horrific scenario over which we feel no gut-wrenching disgust? Or has he simply missed his mark in an attempt to fulfill a nostalgic return to the book that made him famous? There’s enough synchronization with the first installment to keep Ellis fans interested, but newcomers should just pick up Zero from the used bookstore and enjoy the original wasteland.