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.
A genuine literary event ... Others before Ellis have attempted to retool the serial narrative for the internet age. Nothing has felt quite as thrilling as Ellis’s year-long, hour-by-hour performance of The Shards ... Any lingering uncertainty that its brilliance lay more in the recitation than the writing can be dispensed with. The Shards isn’t just Ellis’s strongest novel since the 90s, it’s a full-spectrum triumph, incorporating and subverting everything he’s done before and giving us, if we follow the book’s ingenious, gleefully self-aware conceit, nothing less than the Ellis origin story ... Superficially, The Shards cleaves to Ellis’s well-established aesthetic. The dialogue is deadpan, the atmosphere paranoid and tacitly hostile. Sex is graphic and anhedonic; violence is lurid and sexualised. But beneath the coldness and carnage, a new, gentler quality is detectable ... We realise the precision and subtlety of its metatextual structure. The concluding violence is both climax and origination.
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.
Ellis is a true literary craftsman, and the novel’s imagery is lush and gorgeous. Fans of his earlier fiction...will enjoy many of his signature strokes: murder, music, cocaine, Valium, obscene wealth, an unraveling narrator, brand names, palm trees, blood, stalkers, dogs, cults, disaffected teenagers, negligent parents. But there is an exciting new vulnerability in Ellis’s latest book, inviting the reader more profoundly into the emotional realm of the protagonist than he has with his previous characters ... The Shards feels earnest, at least emotionally. This is also Ellis’s sexiest book, and one senses for the writer a new freedom in the dimensions of love, eros and sensitivity ... the length and repetitions can be so taxing that the reader wonders if the book could have been shorter and still achieved the same psychedelic, collage-like effect. For all the narrative investment it demands, the novel’s climax and denouement ultimately fall flat.