A story about the end of innocence, and the perilous passage from adolescence into adulthood, set in a vibrantly fictionalized Los Angeles in 1981 as a serial killer begins targeting teenagers throughout the city.
Worth the wait. Hermetic, paranoid, sleek, dark — and with brief explosions of the sex and violence that have characterized Ellis' oeuvre — The Shards is a stark reminder that the American Psycho author is a genre unto himself ... About a lot of things. More than one narrative, Ellis weaves in and out of multiple stories ... Despite the multiplicity of intertwining narratives, Ellis masterfully keeps Bret at the center of everything and the narrator's voice, not to mention his growing paranoia, is more than enough to keep readers turning pages ... Parts of it reads like a crime novel and others like a very dark, sexualized, drug-infused coming-of-age story. But there is also a lot of humor, a deep, scathing look at privilege, and a very personal exploration of the things that haunt us, the way distrust affects us, and how sex, growing up, jealousy, fear, and obsession can shape the life of someone at the cusp of their teenage years. Similarly, the story delves deep into what Bret sees as the performance of everyday life ... The novel is also very aware of itself, and the writing shows that. Perhaps the only element that isn't constantly enjoyable here is the endless detail.
It is lurid, grisly, violent, sexy, explicit, ambiguous, chill, funny, sad, and creepy, and so perfectly Bret Easton Ellis-y that at times it flirts with self-parody — which, one suspects, is very much the idea. It’s hard to avoid the cliched poster-quote: if you like Bret Easton Ellis novels you’ll love this. If you hate Bret Easton Ellis novels this won’t persuade you otherwise. If you’ve never read a Bret Easton Ellis novel, starting here won’t hurt, but you might have even more fun if you first mainline the classics ... The Shards play[s] fast and loose with various degraded literary modes — metafiction, autofiction ... Inhaling these novels, Ellis’s readers became accustomed to the metronomic repetition of brand names, band names, street names, the names of minor characters, reeled off like shopping lists. Some find this stuff confounding, or boring, the rest of us lie back and surrender to the ride. To some extent, the trick with Ellis’s fiction is to let it wash over you. It’s a mood, a vibe ... Ellis’s preoccupation is with aesthetics. His writing is decorous, but he has no interest in decorum ... readers new to Ellis may find The Shards 'ick' or 'cringe' or even 'triggering'. (Novels are supposed to trigger something, aren’t they? But perhaps I’m missing the point.) Those who disapprove should reflect on the fact that for as long as he’s been writing Ellis has risked scorn and objection, from Left and Right both ... The Shards is queasily gripping, strikingly heartfelt, and a whole lot of fun. The novel does not deserve to be overlooked, though stranger things have happened.
...[an] ungainly, interesting Frankenstein’s monster of a novel, which grafts a typical-seeming autobiographical reconstruction onto a work of outrageous pulp horror ... It’s all very eerie, yet for readers who know this writer, it will also be comfortingly familiar ... The semi-ironic nostalgia of The Shards casts back less to the era itself than the era as Mr. Ellis sensationalized it for his novels. It must be said that this gives the book the unmistakable feel of fan fiction; if you aren’t well versed in Ellis-iana, it’s likely to leave you cold. If you are a fan, however, Mr. Ellis’s subversions of his life and writing will seem cleverly done ... as his story becomes increasingly crazed and unbelievable his guise of emotional candor transforms into yet another provocative act of subterfuge, in a career already famous for them.