Five years on from a very different novel to his previous work, Brett Easton Ellis returns with a sequel of sorts to his first book, Less Than Zero. Following what seem to be the character’s life in middle age, from the first page it becomes apparent that it’s not going to be as simple as that. At first this rather slim volume looks like it is going to be rather underwhelming. The writing style seems very similar to his early work, just with the noughties painted on. Replacing Oingo Boingo with the iPhone does not a satirist make, and after twenty years of work it appears that Ellis may have lost his spark.
But it is easy to forget that as well as holding a mirror to modern day society, he is a superb mystery writer, and a master of horror. What seems like a very incoherent plot comes together to turn the last twenty pages into a ride into the very darkest of what has come before in the author’s canon. This, dressed with some beautiful prose makes this perhaps the most subtle but also the most truly shocking output of his yet. If you are an Ellis fan, the concept of the novel alone will arouse your interest, and the most pleasing aspect is actually just how surprisingly different it turns out to be. What seems like more of the same turns out to be a book just as strong and worthy of note as any other.