Monday, May 19, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Imperial Bedrooms

Written by:  Bret Easton Ellis
Preceded by:  
Less Than Zero
# of pages:  169
Country:  U.S.
Year published:  2010
Here I am, after a less than thrilling experience with Less Than Zero, re-entering the dirty - no, make that filthy - mind of Clay, now older but definitely not wiser. If you haven't read LTZ or this book yet, let me tell you this, Ellis' characters are a bunch of unlikeable, unrelatable self-absorbed pricks. Reading Imperial Bedrooms, somehow was easier for me maybe because it was plot-driven or that Clay was much more focused (with himself though) or maybe because I already have a background with the story. It also helps that I've seen the movie version of LTZ and I already have a face for Julian (Robert Downey Jr.) and Blair (Jami Gertz), though for some weird reason instead of seeing Andrew McCarthy in my mind as Clay - Emilio Estevez keeps popping up.

At first glance, I thought Clay has matured. I thought the rest of the characters have grown up. Boy was I wrong! I think they're worse than when they were kids! What shallow, pathetic, empty lives they live. What's more pitiful is the fact that I have willingly let myself get sucked into this scary world AGAIN! 

I'm talking about torture, decapitation, prostitution, fisting a girl, obsession, betrayal! And the list goes on and on! My god.

I really liked the first several paragraphs though. 

"They had made a movie about us. The movie was based on a book written by someone we knew...
The movie was very different from the book in that there was nothing from the book in the movie. The book was something I simply couldn’t disavow. The book was blunt and had an honesty about it, whereas the movie was just a beautiful lie. Julian became the sentimentalized version of himself, acted by a talented, sad-faced clown...
The sheer hypocrisy of this scene must have made the author blanch... 
The reason the movie dropped everything that made the novel real was because there was no way the parents who ran the studio would ever expose their children in the same black light the book did. The movie was begging for our sympathy whereas the book didn’t give a shit.
And that's what these novels really are:  they didn't give a shit. That I agree with 100%.

Still using the same style of stream of consciousness and Emilio - I mean Clay - as the narrator, it's weird being in the same place again. At least this has plot which makes it easier to follow. It's more controlled, less self-indulgent, and although it's less explosive or compelling than Less Than Zero, I still prefer this one. But that doesn't mean I like it. In LTZ, Clay was irritatingly depressive & aloof. In Imperial Bedrooms, I thought he has changed for the better because in here, at least he was craving for some kind of relationship with other people. I was thoroughly deceived. He just turned into a narcissistic bastard, that's what he is! He's one of the most selfish guy in literature I have encountered. I mean talk about 50 shades messed up! And Julian & Blair are only minor characters in the book.  

There are three things I've realized after reading Less Than Zero & Imperial Bedrooms:

One. Clay is a psychotic douchebag. He's crazy & he's scary. 

Two. The characters/story have zero redeeming qualities. I'm not saying that's a requirement for a novel. I just wanted to get something from this reading experience.

Three. I got nothing. With other books, the reason you keep reading them is either you're entertained or your mind was nourished. When you finish a book, you sigh and smile and think about how you want to see more of the characters and see how their story unfolds. And Even if it was tragic, there's still some feeling of bittersweetness to it. That's how normal books are. When I got to the end of this book, the only emotion I felt was relief. Like if you're a battered wife and you have endured the torture for as long as you can but then you realize that the man you have been with is truly a monster and you can't change him and finally you escape your awful situation and you vow to yourself to never look back and you're just so relieved and you sigh a big fat sigh because you're finally out. And you smile. Yes, that kind of relief.

Until that demon man begs you to come back and you tell yourself maybe this time it's different. Maybe it will be better.

Yes, I'm definitely reading American Psycho next!

My Rating:  3.5/5 

Check out MY ULTIMATE BOOK BUCKET LIST or the books I wanna read before I die!

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