The Rules of Attraction

From Academic Kids

The Rules of Attraction is a novel by Bret Easton Ellis published in 1987.



The novel is told from a multiple first-person point of view. The narrators are three students: Paul, Sean and Lauren (plus a few other students who insert narration sparsely into the text) at the fictional Camden College who end up in a love triangle, amid End of the World parties, drug runs, and classes never attended.

The story begins part of the way through a sentence to give the effect that it begins somewhere closer to the middle rather than at a true beginning. This is sometimes mistaken by readers as a typo or the result of a missing page, but in truth it was purposely done by Ellis. The novel also ends in a similar fashion, with the last sentence cut off before it ends.


  • Sean Bateman - a drug dealer who has slept with many of the girls on campus, as well as a number of the boys. He has fallen in love with Lauren, whom he believes shares the same sentiments; meanwhile he has been getting letters from a young lady known only by the italic texts in the novel. He also pursues a relationship with Paul during the novel, encounters which are often omitted from his daily entries. He is the brother of Patrick Bateman, the main character of Ellis's novel American Psycho.
  • Lauren Hynde - a virgin when she entered high school who was saving herself for an upperclass drama major, Daniel Miller. The first page of the novel begins with her recounting her first time, which was the first weekend of Freshman year: "and it's a story that might bore you but you don't have to listen, she told me, because she always knew it was going to be like that." She is sexually active throughout the novel (not so in the film, in which she is a virgin), and eventually takes an interest in Sean, who believes that she is writing him love notes.
  • Paul Denton - a bisexual guy who used to date Lauren. He is attracted to Sean, but doesn't know if he also likes him or not, despite the fact that they frequently have sex where Sean is "crazed, an untamed animal, it was almost scary." Paul has also had relationships with two important characters Mitchell and Richard (Dick).
  • Victor Johnson - Lauren's boyfriend. He has left to go backpacking through Europe and has left Lauren waiting for his return. Due to his excessive use of drugs (and asides with other girls - and guys) in Europe, he returns to school being unable to remember Lauren. He later becomes the main character of the spin-off novel Glamorama.


The Rules of Attraction was adapted into a movie in 2002. It was directed by Roger Avary and starred James Van Der Beek as Sean, Shannyn Sossamon as Lauren, Ian Somerhalder as Paul, and Kip Pardue as Victor.

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