REVIEW: Less Than Zero

One of my first reviews was for Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho.  It was also the review where I found my voice; something about Ellis’ writing inspired me.

I decided it was time to explore more of Ellis’ work, and to start at the very beginning.

Ellis’ debut novel, Less Than Zero, while not finely tuned, clearly foreshadows his potential . (He wrote it when he was 21, so, I mean, why am I even critiquing? But, here we are). Told in the first person, with a heavy stream of consciousness vibe, similar to that of American Psycho, Ellis uses viscous prose to take us on a tour of the 1980s college party scene in California.

Our guide, Clay, leads with a somber and introspective voice; a young man trying to find his place in a community with blurred boundaries. Clay’s commentary and perspective on the scene, as well as the problems of his time and generation is an element Ellis continues to explore later in his career through Patrick Bateman (adding in graphic details and serial killings, of course). 

There is a looseness to Ellis’ style in Less Than Zero, which fits the setting to a degree, but allows for a bit too much meandering in parts; this weakens the novel.

While I wasn’t as engaged and fueled by Less Than Zero as I was by American Psycho, Ellis’ unique voice is certainly alive enough in this debut novel to keep the reader on the journey.


Rating: 3.5 Stoned Nights


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