Imperial Bedrooms

     Imperial Bedrooms - Bret Easton Ellis 3/5 stars

     The question here is did we really need a sequel to Less Than Zero? If you haven't read that novel you should. It's a fine debut and one that some people regard as a classic. The answer is a resounding no because you can't really do a sequel to a novel like that. The characters just aren't that interesting. They're shallow, and boring so what would the sequel even be about? Then the question of why did Ellis do a sequel and the answers are easy to come by. Money, a career slump? Makes sense and as I began to read Imperial Bedrooms I wondered if I would regret it.

      Bedrooms picks up after twenty-five years after the events of Less Than Zero and the characters once again are shallow and haven't really changed all that much. Clay is now a screen writer and the others are really just props to keep the novel moving forward. Rip the drug dealer actually is a huge part of this one and as the novel wears on the story becomes clear. It's almost like a yuppie mystery with a dead actor showing up and Clay himself is being stalked by someone. The big question is who are these people and why are they so interested in Clay? The first half of the novel is mediocre at best. Ellis just seems to be going through the motions and as usual his writing style is pretty sparse. Everyone it seems is just a prop to move along the story and for awhile nothing really happens.

     Once we met Rain, Ellis comes to life and the story perks up. Now we see why Clay is being followed and we realize that Julian's a bit of a douchebag. It's the second half of the novel that really saves this from being a boring shit sandwich. The characters are still lackluster and the plot while almost an afterthought really moves forward as Ellis begins to hit his stride. The novel is really about Clay and his relationship with Rain. We know why she's with him, and so does Clay but he fails to see that he's not important enough to be truly be with her. This is Hollywood where everyone's shallow and everyone has ulterior motives. None of the characters are likable at all but it's the mystery of it all that makes this sort of entertaining.

      The beginning of the novel talks about Julian being murdered and when you see how and why it's shocking. At its core the novel has moments of shocking brutality especially when we realize that Clay has a bit of a dark side. As a narrator he keeps things simple and never reveals too much about himself but it's hinted at through other characters. Ellis plays everything close to the vest and doesn't even hint at what's about to transpire and when it hits you truly don't expect it. It's a very short read but not entirely terrible.

     Is it better than Less Than Zero? Are you insane? No, but it's not a book that feels as if it's done to generate some cash flow or make Ellis relevant again. It's a chance to catch up with his characters and see how they are. They haven't changed much, but did you really expect them too? Did you expect Blair to be a stay at home mom? Did you think that Julian would wrestle his demons to the ground and then open up a day care in Hollywood? Of course you didn't. The thing is that most of us never thought about these characters at all after finishing Less Than Zero and seeing them older also makes us feel a bit older.

     The good news is that it's not a terrible book. If you've read Brett's work before you know what to expect. Just don't expect anything new, or some deep insight into the characters. They're all selfish and mostly just props to move the story along. You don't get to meet them or even have some kind of attachment to them which would have helped this book a bit. It's a nice glimpse at characters that Ellis wanted to revisit and if you're at your local library you should pick it up. Don't buy it unless you can find it really cheap.