“My name is Patrick Bateman. I am twenty-six years old. I live in the American Garden Buildings on West Eighty-First Street, on the eleventh floor. Tom Cruise lives in the penthouse.
“I believe in taking care of myself, in a balanced diet, in a rigorous exercise routine. In the morning, if my face is a little puffy, I’ll put on an ice pack while doing my stomach crunches. I can do a thousand now.”
That’s your first introduction to Ellis’ protagonist, and you immediately know what type of person this is. In his world, you are what you wear, own, and drive. Your life is defined by where you eat, shop, and party. Your values are an ever-shifting, amorphous blob of social responses designed to impress and belittle others.
In this book, Ellis gives a haunting look into the world of the Manhattan uber-Yuppies, where materialism and physical beauty is admired over all. Bateman has gone to great pains to appear as perfect as possible: he’s obsessed with taking care of his body and looks like a GQ model, he wears nothing but the finest designers, he lives in an upper-class condo in the trendy Upper West Side, he makes six figures working for his father’s Wall Street firm, and he dines at the most exclusive restaurants in New York City, and parties in the most exclusive clubs. Bateman loves nobody, regards his fiance, friends, and co-workers with disgust, and feels nothing but a cold, bitter hatred of the world and its inhabitants.
The only thrill Bateman can experience is brutally torturing and murdering people, particularly young women. His violent outbreaks are rarely pre-meditated. If he’s on a date with a girl, he may or may not take her home to chop her head off. If someone mentions how the Japanese are buying up all of New York City, he may order Chinese take-out to an abandoned building (mistakenly thinking it as Japanese food) and stab the delivery boy to death. If a bum asks him for money, he may toss him a few bucks with disdain, or strangle him to death.
That’s just how his world moves, as he says.
I won’t lie–for the first half of this book, I was pretty hooked. Bateman and his soulless comrades do and say some of the most outrageous stuff, and I just wanted to know what Ellis’ twisted mind would think up next. I appreciated the shock value of the story and situations, but by 2/3 through the book, the gimmick felt repetitive. I kept reading simply because I don’t like to quit books.
My experience could be summed up as 5 stars for the first half, 3 stars for the middle, and 2 stars for the final 1/3. I think it’s worth reading for the first half alone, and while it goes downhill from there, there are a few later sequences that will still get a rise out of you.