Book Review – Imperial Bedrooms

By Bret Easton Ellis
Started: 4th August 2014
Finished: 4th August 2014

I knew as soon as I finished Less Than Zero I had to read the sequel, Imperial Bedrooms. I just had to know what happened to the characters, and what they turned into as they grew up the way they did. This novel was just as gripping but, I felt, much darker… Which is really the only way it could have gone.

Now in 2010, Clay is a 45-year-old screenwriter travelling between New York and LA. Due to his new film he finds himself staying in LA, and meeting up with people he thought he had left behind. He meets up with Julian who’s a year sober, but still involved in something he shouldn’t be. Then there’s Blair who married Trent, but the marriage isn’t as happy as it should be. Clay’s life becomes complicated and dangerous when he gets involved with an actress, who isn’t the straightforward whore he believed her to be.

The characters are far more compex in this novel, and there are many mysteries surrounding them. Clay in particular has a lot going on, however most of which he is oblivious about. He has changed over the years, he’s more dangerous and angry with the world. Which he takes out on others, directly and indirectly. Although her appearances may not be often, I preferred the way Blair’s character was written in this novel rather than the first. To me she just seemed more mature. Rip, on the other hand, was much darker this time round as well, which had me feel uneasy. There seemed to be more old characters than new ones, which I preferred as we spend over 200 pages getting acquainted with them and learning who’s who in the first novel.

There was more of a plot this time round, a murder mystery of sorts. This lead to scenes even more gruesome than what was in the first novel. I don’t want to say too much about it as the shock factor of what happens is a great aspect of the book. The story is told in the same way as Less Than Zero, with Clay narrating it in small segments. Again this worked really well and this time even reminded me of Martin Amis’ Money, especially with the mystery texts. I also enjoyed how you can tell time has passed because even Clay’s voice does sound different. More mature, but not necessarily a better person.

I loved how the book opened, talking about a film being made about their lives. It amused me as I read that the author didn’t want to be associated with the Less Than Zero film. So to acknowledge it in the opening pages of the sequel from Clay’s point of view was quite funny. It also addresses the possible reasoning why the film and book are so different, particularly the endings. It was a great way to start the book, by giving a nod to the first one and quickly following with what happened afterwards.

I did really enjoy this novel, I was fascinated by how the characters have developed. Although it was written quite a while after the first, it is still very reminiscent of it which is what I hoped for. It was familiar but there were still new situations to keep my attention and to keep things new and exciting.

Rating: 4/5

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