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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dead Generation
Where did Bret Easton-Ellis come from? I don't mean geographically. I mean how did someone in their early twenties write such a complete book? Less Than Zero is so accomplished it's incredible. It tells the story of the teenagers of the rich and famous, and their decent into decadence simply in search of something to do. These characters simply have nothing to risk. They...
Published on 8 Sep 2005 by rp

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Repellent characters that do nothing
I'm sure some will say that this book is an allegory for a moral decline in American youth etc. When I read a book I want to find a story, good writing, characters etc. This was just a series of pointless activities by repellent self absorbed non-characters - went to party, took drugs, had pointless conversation, may or may not have sex, wake up, go to party, take drugs,...
Published 10 months ago by Damo Green


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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Dead Generation, 8 Sep 2005
Where did Bret Easton-Ellis come from? I don't mean geographically. I mean how did someone in their early twenties write such a complete book? Less Than Zero is so accomplished it's incredible. It tells the story of the teenagers of the rich and famous, and their decent into decadence simply in search of something to do. These characters simply have nothing to risk. They are dead to the world and completely souless.
I think a lot of other authors wouldn't be able to resist the temptation to satirise the characters. Easton-Ellis looks beyond the shallowness of his characters and the result is a tragedy worthy of Evelyn Waugh, F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway. Unfortunately, Less Than Zero is not as entertaining as Vile Bodies or The Great Gatsby. It's on a par with The Sun Also Rises though.
I think as the years go by, this book will be seen as more and more tragic, and an extremely good record of 1980s America at it's most empty and decadent. When it was first released some reviewers misread it as some kind of nihilistic call-to-arms for young party people. There's even an excerpt on the back of the book from one reviewer who compares the characters to The Beat Generation and generally approves of their wild party antics. I think now that the dust has settled it's easier to understand the meaning of this book. There's no soul in this party.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first and the best., 6 April 2009
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This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)
I can never understand people who claim 'American Psycho' is BEE's best work. I'm guessing they are attracted to the notoriety of the book. Although it is, of course, a great piece of writing; his first novel 'Less than Zero' written while he was still at University is stunning. Its a book i can read again and again as the stark style and matter of fact narration draws you in.
Worryingly, I dont think that its just as simple as the novel being a mirror that reflects the attitudes of the rich and bored in 80s LA. It also reflects society as a whole since that decade. The degree of emotional detachment that rings through the book from each character is the most haunting and sad thing because its not just the spoilt kids of Hollywood and Vine that want to 'see the worst' anymore: its all of us. Case in point..... the amount of people who read (and love) 'American Psycho.'
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Repellent characters that do nothing, 9 Jun 2013
This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)
I'm sure some will say that this book is an allegory for a moral decline in American youth etc. When I read a book I want to find a story, good writing, characters etc. This was just a series of pointless activities by repellent self absorbed non-characters - went to party, took drugs, had pointless conversation, may or may not have sex, wake up, go to party, take drugs, have pointless conversations and so on in an endless pattern. The last couple of chapters are particularly unpleasant, especially the lead character's ambivalence and inaction at events taking place.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No place called home..., 17 July 2010
This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)
My favourite Ellis book, but then again I'm biased as I like all of them. It also heavily reminds me of my own first break from university returning to a home town that now seemed out of place. The shortest book of his career to date it can be easily read in one day in go, rather like the visiting Clay you come back, go in, leave before your times out and reach for a sign that reads 'No Exit'. I find its best to read Ellis's books in order as he has created his own little universe of characters appearing in all his books from minor becoming main players and vica-versa. So this book should always be the starting point for any new Brett Easton Ellis reader. The main is simply a generation x genius.
PS: Shame about the '80s film of it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Disturbing; hard to care; first half quite soul sucking., 13 July 2010
This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)
A lot of this book involve Clay going to parties and generally being completely apathetic about everything. The book is quietly tragic however and contains some genuinely affecting scenes. It's only short. Give it a read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brutal, 5 Feb 2010
This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)
This book is a brutal indictment of how life can fester to the point of nothingness... less than zero. Trapped in a world of drugs and sex, clay and his friends know only how to party and gossip... There lives are empty and have no content, lost in an endless cycle of depression, highs and lows. A shocking yet somewhat true portrayal of the postmodern city where life is all about instant gratification...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars entertaining zilch, 6 Dec 2009
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JamieJ (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)
enjoyable slide into 80s nihilism and sex/drugs for the rich set. For a novel in which very little happens, at least for most of it, it is strangely captivating and engrossing. The passage of one word after another seems mesmerising and overall I enjoyed it.

At times it's also funny and at other times really disturbing and as with all BEE it's never quite clear which is which.

Worth a go.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Depressingly brilliant, 3 Nov 2007
By 
Bruno Alves "mfan" (Lisbon, Portugal) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)
I think the most astonishing thing about Bret Easton Ellis's first book is how well constructed it is, how it permanently keeps you on edge, and how effectively it conveys an atmosphere of increasing dread out of what starts out to be just an impressive amount of shallowness. American Psycho notwithstanding, Less than Zero might just be his most powerful book, and if you are new to Ellis, then you are in for a real treat. For those in the know, all the familiar Ellis themes are already firmly in place: the emptiness, the alienation, the complete boredom of a spoiled generation - abandoned and eaten by their parents - who only get their kicks in the most perverse and obscene ways. These LA scenesters are utterly dead, or better yet, they are undead, and, like proper vampires, need to sustain themselves on a steady diet of human sacrifice. The deaths, OD's, car-crashes and snuff films are the only things that raise a flicker of genuine interest in them. All the rest (the parties, the drugs, the sex) is just business as usual.
What is not business as usual is the way Ellis carefully builds on this, introducing and exposing the reader to all the superficial drug abuse and mindless sex before building up to the real decadence underneath - the only one that seems to elicit a flicker of interest (if not true excitement) from these walking dead. And in Clay, Ellis has one of his best characters: as dead as the rest of them, he expertly guides the reader through this emotionally barren landscape, showing just the tiniest bit of troubled humanity needed to sustain the reader, towards the final scenes, before returning to his emotionally flat-lined natural state. In any novel, this type of pacing would be great, but for a first novel written in his mid-twenties, it is absolutely ace. Read it and be depressed by Ellis's brilliance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The dumbest generation yet, 22 Oct 2007
By 
Trevor Coote "Trevor Coote" (Tahiti, French Polynesia) - See all my reviews
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Very much a practise run for American Psycho, this nihilistic tale of alienation and ennui among 1980s Los Angeles youth leaves the reader with a feeling of emptiness and despair. This is not alienation through poverty but through excess, the triumph of consumerism over imagination, catalysed by a second-rate culture and education system, and poor quality parenting. Narrated by Clay, on holiday in Los Angeles for Christmas, a clique of decadent and aimless young Californians subsists on a soulless diet of MTV cable, porn films, cocaine, crystal meth and loveless sex; what Philip Roth has called `the dumbest generation yet.' In this moral vacuum they drift from one ruinous party to another, indifferent to the often tragic consequences of their actions (ODs, abortions), balancing precariously between a meaningless life and a meaningless death. The novel is powerful, effective and accomplished in a horrible sort of way, with an undertone of menace, but in the end you can't help feeling that it is as pointless as the lives of the cartoon-ish characters within. A book to sink the spirits.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawless, 28 April 2007
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R. Butler (Tyneside) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Less Than Zero (Paperback)
An amazing debut novel from Ellis. The characters in this book inhabit a world in which morality simply does not exist. No consideration is ever given to the rights and wrongs of a behaviour. It is a savage indictment of modern culture in which the consumption of experiences and sensations prevails over all else. It is a world inwhich the individual takes precident over society as a whole. It can be read as attack on 1980's economic liberalism where there was "no such thing as society" and where "greed is good".

All this is written in a sparse style that merely provides us with a narrative of events, never offering us any moral interpretation of these events.

All this said, it could just be about a bunch of rich kids screwing and getting high.
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