Review: Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis

TITLE: Lunar Park
AUTHOR: Bret Easton Ellis
PAGES: 320
FORMAT: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0375412912
BUY IT: Amazon
RATING: 5/5 [in the genre] or 8/10 [all books I’ve ever read].
FOR: Fans of Chuck Palahniuk and Kurt Vonnegut. Anyone looking for a book with some teeth. Anyone who can handle sex, drugs, and violence. Anyone who saw “American Psycho” and wants to check out the author. Anyone who only knows who Ellis is because of his recent interest in adapting 50 Shades of Gray, and needs a more accurate impression of him.  Adults or mature teens.  

Imagine becoming a best-selling novelist, and almost immediately famous and wealthy, while still in college, and before long seeing your insufferable father reduced to a bag of ashes in a safety-deposit box, while after American Psycho your celebrity drowns in a sea of vilification, booze, and drugs. Then imagine having a second chance ten years later, as the Bret Easton Ellis of this remarkable novel is given, with a wife, children, and suburban sobriety—only to watch this new life shatter beyond recognition in a matter of days. At a fateful Halloween party he glimpses a disturbing (fictional) character driving a car identical to his late father’s, his stepdaughter’s doll violently “malfunctions,” and their house undergoes bizarre transformations both within and without. Connecting these aberrations to graver events—a series of grotesque murders that no longer seem random and the epidemic disappearance of boys his son’s age—Ellis struggles to defend his family against this escalating menace even as his wife, their therapists, and the police insist that his apprehensions are rooted instead in substance abuse and egomania. Lunar Park confounds one expectation after another, passing through comedy and mounting horror, both psychological and supernatural, toward an astonishing resolution—about love and loss, fathers and sons—in what is surely the most powerfully original and deeply moving novel of an extraordinary career.

The Basics: I’ve been slowly working my way through Ellis’ life works, and I’m still going strong. While not as iconic as Less Than Zero or as breathtakingly brilliant as American Psycho, Lunar Park is still a fantastic, multilayered novel. I laughed from the very beginning, got a little teary sometimes, wanted to knock something over in rage otherwise. The Bret of this fictional autobiography is endearingly messed up. Even as you’re screaming at him, you want so desperately for him to succeed. Embedded in an exciting murder-mystery plot is a beautiful commentary on the nature of writing and what it does to the writer.

Plot (5/5): The first bit was slow and took me a while to get into; then I couldn’t put it down. The majority of the book covers a short space of time, but so much happens that you’re ever, ever bored. There’s illicit affair, intrigue, missing children, murders, and plenty of Bret doing silly things. There’s never a boring moment. Even when nothing is actually happening. That’s true talent.

Concept (5/5): Most of the characters are real. Most of the happenings are not. Or are they? It’s confusing at times, delving between reality and fiction, but I think that’s the most brilliant part of this book. You don’t know what’s real. Even in the plot—is Bret really watching the house magically transform, or is this a side-effect of his drug-addled mind? It’s the perfect way to look at where stories come from and what they can really do. And it’s just damn clever.

Characters (5/5): Even when you hate them, you love them. Bret drove me bonkers. I wanted to throttle him and say, “Get your life together! Stop cheating on your wife! No more cocaine!” But I also wanted to hug him. A lot. Because you’re in his head the whole time, and you realize just how lonely and ill-prepared he is. Jayne is frightfully annoying but you feel for her, dealing with her husband’s antics. The kids are wonderfully eerie.

Style (5/5): I miss the minimalistic style of Less Than Zero, which Bret mourns himself in the first chapter. I do love the style of this book, though. It’s excessive. It’s winding. It goes well with Bret’s confusion and ever-working mind. You’d probably ramble too if you were on several different drugs, legal or not, and hallucinating evil beasties in your backyard. Makes it a little hard to follow, but I like a good challenge.

Mechanics (5/5): I suppose you can add “run-ons galore” to this piece. But it’s a style. It works for him. It’s clearly not a mistake of editing.

Take Home Message: A mind-warping adventure that toes the line between real and not real, giving more questions than answers.  This is not your average horror novel.

Note: I purchased this copy. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.


  1. Sorry it was slow starting out, but glad that you got into it and the characters you couldn't look away from.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

    1. The start didn't turn out to be that much of a hitch. Honestly, writing this review, I forgot about it until the end! As long as you stick with it, it picks up fast.