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Through a series of brief first-person accounts, the novel chronicles one term at a fictional New England college, with particular emphasis on a decidedly contemporary love triangle one woman and two men in which all possible combinations have been explored, and each pines after the one who's pining after the other. Theirs is a world of physical, chemical and emotional excess -- an adolescent fantasy of sex, drugs and sturm und drang -- wherein characters are distinguished only by the respective means by which they squander their health, wealth and youth. Despite its contemporary feel and flashy structure, the book begins and ends midsentence -- the narrative relies on the stalest staples of melodrama and manages to pack in a suicide, assorted suicide attempts, an abortion and the death of a parent without giving the impression that anything is happening or that any of it matters.
Ellis has his pretensions (the book starts and finishes in the middle of a sentence, and one diary entry is in easy French), but he successfully fleshes out his characters and creates involving situations. -- Susan Avallone
"Ellis is, first and last, a moralist. Under cover of his laconic voice, every word in his [novels] springs from grieving outrage at our spiritual condition." —Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Serves to establish Mr. Ellis's reputation further as one of the primary inside sources in upper-middle-class America's continuing investigation of what has happened to its children." —The New York Times Book Review
Posted September 3, 2009
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In this novel, Ellis establishes the universe of characters for his more gruesome and surreal novels, "Amecian Psycho" and "Glamorama." Considered his most lighthearted novel, "The Rules of Attraction" still manages a level of darkness and inevitability.
Each chapter is written from different perspectives of students at Camden college, the fictional analogue to Ellis' own East Coast alma mater. The three main characters constitute a twisted romantic triangle that's both petty and destructive. Sean Bateman (the brother of American Psycho's Patric Bateman) is infatuated with Lauren (the Lauren Hynde from Glamorama). Lauren fails to get over her love for Victor (the same Victor that's Glamorama's protagonist) while getting involved with Sean... and several others. Paul adds another layer to the conflict, sharing history with Lauren and becoming infatuated with Sean.
Like with "Less Than Zero," the characters in this novel fail to learn from their moral shortcomings. While a "heroic" story will have morally flawed characters learn and grow from their trials, such is not the case in an Ellis novel. This story starts out reprehensible and just gets more destructive from there. Conflicts and pathologies totally lack resolution throughout and the novel ends with a broken, unfinished sentence, underscoring the finality of their collective drama.
Despite the darkness of the plot structure, "The Rules Of Attraction" boasts some extremely funny chapters, including a chapter by Sean's French roommate written entirely in French. Getting a translation is well worth it, as his whining and arrogant love letter to Lauren is genuinely funny. Sean also has a chapter where he discusses a relationship with a hippie that I laughed out loud at several times.
Both the moral depravity and the black humor of this novel are something of an embryonic necessity for this young author, suggesting the greater works of American Psycho and Glamorama that will follow this novel. While not "great" on it's own, I recommend that anyone interested in Ellis read this short novel before trying to tackle the gut-wrenching masterpiece of "American Psycho" or the existential nightmare of "Glamorama."
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Posted September 23, 2009
I first read this book when I was twelve years old. The book was rather dark, but I thought that was a plus. I fell in love with all of the characters, and connected to all of them. Easton Ellis can capture emotion, and come up with three beautiful and out-of-the-ordinary characters that are easy to see yourself in. After reading, I saw relationships from a different perspective, and I still do. Buy this book now.
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This hilariously realistic story is about as dark as they get, but in this depressive college dating story you find a tapestry of interesting characters leading entertaining lives and telling intertwining stories. In this story, the people who want to hook up with each other rarely do, and when they do it isn't usually what they thought it would be. Very few other romance stories actually leave you feeling that it is a believable story. This one people can relate to. Another good one is Christmas at Sibyl's. A friend bought it for me and it's now one of my favorite Christmas stories.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 8, 2012
Posted March 3, 2012
This novel is more interesting in how it plays with form and style than it is in its presentation of the narrative. It begins and ends in the middle of a sentence and it is technically just one chapter. The novel fkows from voice to voice as you get more of a glimpse into the lives of the rich and unhappy than an actual story. I enjoyed the experience, but I owe a big thanks to Audible for getting me to finish this one. The characters lost most of my interest around page 100, but a free 30 day trial to audible solved that. The voice acting on their audio book is superb and pulled me through to the end.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 16, 2007
This book is one of the few books that have made me really laugh out loud, and though the characters are basically empty and need to be smacked for their behavior, their blunders are just what happens in such an environment as a college campus. The book is an easy read, in the sense that it's just a tad bit under 300 pages long, but it can be confusing. It is written in first person by several people some central characters, others not. But once you get the hang of who's who and who's talking about what, it will make sense and the characters will come alive and become likable to you, despite their empty souls and cluelessness. I read this book during a long trip with two flights, and I finished it before I got to my final destination. In fact, I re-read it right away to clear any confusion from the beginning, which like I said, can be confusing, and loved it even more the second time around!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 21, 2007
Uninhibited drug use, demoralizing sexual encounters and an ironic portrait of 80s campus life for the American upper crust---these things make for a great read, but there's much more to this book than sex and drugs. The inherent inability of one human being to 'know' another takes on poignant and hilarious overtones under Ellis' pen. Framing the story through the minds of its characters shows their utter obsessions, misunderstandings and pathetic illusions. Kudos.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 5, 2007
It is definitely not what I expected. Of course, do not watch the movie first. The movie ruins the book. Totally different than the movie.And (DUH) the book is better than the movie.Very very very confusing! The end is sooo screwed up, but in a good way. In a very creative brilliant way.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 1, 2005
I read this book in two days, and I couldn't put it down the entire time. From the first words introducing each character from their perspectives, I was hooked. Like a college soap opera, but without the cheese, only reality. TROA is an incredible look at the lives of the youths of modern America, and the pain they often endure. All I can say is, I both look forward to, and fear, college next year.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2004
I felt that this book was amazing. It gives such a vivid picture of college students. As a high schools senior, it's odd to think that i'll soon be entering situations like those in the novel. The characters are outlined and detailed so well it's astonishing. Brett Easton Ellis did an outstanding job on creating real life situations that young people of our society deal with every day. The way the story was told through the different characters gave the reader the ability to actually get a real picture of what is going on. The movie and the book do not compare; the novel is defiantly the better choice. However, it did upset me with the ending. It felt as though a lot of the character's problems were never resloved. This book should be a requirment to read, the imagery that the author presents will leave you with a feeling like no otherWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 8, 2003
Ellis hits the nail on the head here. He provides the perfect way to not go through college. I love the characters and the story lines are rich, and the lifestyle of the students is outrageous. Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll, every college kids dream comes true in Rules of Attraction.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 23, 2003
Bret Easton Ellis constructs a brilliant novel that places the readcer directly into the fictional world of Camden college. His descriptions of the events that unfold vivedly portray his charactors and places. The charactors are not fake nor are they stereotypes, they are in a way real peolple that aren't that unfamiliar in this world. A great read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 15, 2002
A great novel, written in Ellis' unique style. Similar to many of his other works, focusing on college aged 80's kids having free sex and blowing wads of cash on cocaine and binges. Interesting point of view, taking the story from three or four vantage points, and seeing how different characters interpret the same events. Typical Ellis. Very good dialogue.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 29, 2002
Ellis is truly a literary god. He can make such a twisted story and still keep a sophisticated feel to it. His characters are so realistic it is scary. The story dwells in the deepest wreches of the human mind and keeps you there. If you want a good read and like the disturbing then you are in heaven. Get this book!!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 14, 2002
The Rules of Attraction are by far Brett Easton Ellis' best novel. The characters are very real and well defined and the emotions they experience and exhibit (and hide) are extremely accurate. The author does a wonderful job of exploring the lost generation that starts anew with each incoming freshman class.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 13, 2001
I read American Psycho and I like this read a lot more. It challenges you in the same way as Psycho though. I'll always catch myself in these melancholic states while reading it...determined to live in the dorms again just to get a glimpse of the chaos he portrays. The characters are hopeless from the start, but you keep reading because we all are hopeless. You long for love and want something of value and you hate those that just run around in some dream (Sean and the main girl, i forget her name) where nothing matters. It's giving up versus survival and a lot of weed smoking in the process. But I think anybody who has been to college within the last 20 years will agree that this book is college. My thoughts are consumed with the same things these character's thoughts are consumed with. We are all kind of helpless, trying to meet our needs any way we can. We hate those that meet their needs through sex and pass it off as fun and that hate seems to come from envy. There is so much envy in college and in this book. It is even worse that these kids are rich...because no matter how corrupt or disgusting they are we will still envy them because of their status. It was the same thing with American Psycho. No matter how horrible these people are they are still living in that American dream that only few experience the luxury of. It's depressing, but reading it is a great learning experience, just as American Psycho. I just don't know what I'm learning.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 18, 2001
Anybody who knows and likes Ellis' American Psycho should read this book and Glamorama. Sean, the bi-sexual lit major in this book, is Patrick Batemans younger brother, and Lauren is a character who re-occurs in Glamorama, read this! Everything will start to make sense afterwards. Fans of Ellis should also consider books by Chuck Palahinuk, author of Fight Club.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 5, 2001
I liked this book because the characters were engrossing and interesting, yet not very likable. They wander from one party to the next, one partner to the next, looking for acceptance of their existence and never finding it. Basically they are young and clueless but act as if they hold the meaning of life. A true portrait of most college students, and even more accurate of the eighties college student. What this novel does in overkill are the eighties references. It seemed to be trying too hard to represent the music and convey cultural representations. I understand the necessity for some of it, but there remains a line that this text definitely crossed. Otherwise an enjoyable and on the same level depressing read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 16, 2000
Ellis' novel has moved me closer to the edge of wanting to get out of my house, go to college and live life on my own; even more so than before I read this novel. I love the structure Ellis put the novel in. It quickly paces you through the comings and goings of the characters such as Paul and Sean. Ellis reveals the inner workings of college life and the ramifications of sleeping with your girlfriend's best friend. Astounding.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 30, 2009
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