Bret Easton Ellis' seventh novel, Imperial Bedrooms, was released on June 15 as a sequel to his 1985 debut novel, Less Than Zero, picks up with the same characters 25 years later.
Familiar names fill the pages once again: Blair, Julian, Rip and of course Clay, the narrator for both novels. Now, however, they've evolved from the apathetic teenagers of the '80s who snorted cocaine and forgot where and with whom they spent last night into the schemers and backstabbers of 2010. They revisit one another only with the intention of using old friends for sinister profit.
Unlike some of Ellis' previous novels that employ static plots with purposeful conclusions, Imperial Bedrooms is completely dependent on plot for movement. Ellis drives the reader around but in the end leaves them back where they started.
Ellis also brings back his minimalist style, which brings emphasis and emotion to the reader in few words. This works well; many times Ellis tempts the reader into doubting the very words he or she is reading. It forces the audience to re-read a passage over and over to make sure it is truly there. He also leaves the reader with a curiosity for Los Angeles, "sleaze" culture and with an icy chill down the spine.
Like with any Ellis novel, the reader can expect a text crawling with vast repulsive and cruel human behavior. This, however, does not stand to shock the reader but instead is used to provide a strong moral message. In this novel, Ellis depicts deception, betrayal and the willingness to let a friend fall for personal gain. This is where striving starlet Rain Turner comes into play as the basis of an interesting love triangle that turns into an even more interesting "love quadrilateral."
Imperial Bedrooms is not necessarily a challenging work, but it doesn't need to be. Ellis seems to be reflecting and channeling Clay several times throughout the novel. It seems as though when Clay says, "I can suddenly see my reflection in a mirror in the corner of the bedroom: an old-looking teenager," that this is Ellis himself speaking. It's not that Ellis has stayed the same - the evolution in style over his 25-year career is clear in the novel - but he has retained the same spirit since Less Than Zero in 1985.