The Shards Ending Explained: Ambiguous Ending of Bret’s Novel

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The Shards Ending Explained
The Shards by Bret Easton Ellis (Credits: Variety)

Have you read Bret Easton Ellis’s Less than Zero and American Psycho? If yes, then you’re going to find The Shards a mix of both books, and if your answer is a No then you might read them after this one. The Shards is an autofiction novel written by an American author Bret Easton Ellis. The author used to be very active a few years ago and used to launch amazing books, but for some reason, he wasn’t publishing anything.

Finally, on January 17, 2023, we get to see a new launch from him. The Shards is Bret’s first novel after 13 long years and it fictionalizes Bret’s final year in his school. The novel has been serialized as an audiobook, and the voice was given by the author only. The novel is getting positive responses, but people are getting confused with The Shards Ending, so read on to get an idea. 

Who is Bret Easton Ellis?

Bret Easton Ellis is a well-known American Author who has been exploring his interest in writing since childhood. His journey started when he was studying at Bennington College. He published his first novel, Less Than Zero, at the age of 21, which was the first step towards his success. Bret was now famous, both in college and in his area. The scope for writers in his era was enormous, and every individual did not have access to the internet so they used to read books a lot. Therefore, Bret had a golden chance to showcase his talent to the world. He used to write what he felt and what valuable others could get.

The Shards Ending Explained
Bret Easton Ellis (Credits: Getty Images)

When he was a kid, his parents separated because of his dad’s wrong behavior towards his homemaker mother. He wrote a book, and the protagonist, Patrick Bateman, resembled his dad. Now, it was in talks, and people used to ask him about his father’s behavior. After some time, Bret broke the silence and clearly said that the protagonist has no link with his dad’s behavior rather protagonist was resembling himself. He wanted to express his pain, and whatsoever he was going through in his life after his parents’ divorce. Currently, Bret Easton Ellis is 59 years old and a successful author, screenwriter, director, and short-story writer.

Because of his work, he was considered one of the literary Brat Pack. If we talk about his technique, it is the expression of opinions and extreme scenarios which was expressed in an affectless style. His controversial best-seller was his first book in the market, Less Than Zero, which was published by Simon & Schuster. Was this success enough? No! There was more to come on his way. His third novel, American Psycho was another best seller in his collection. His latest launch is The Shards.

The Shards Summary

Since the book is an autofiction, the story starts with Bret narrating. The fictional story revolves around his life in college which follows by a tragedy. In 1981, he was a senior year student in his high school, and he had a friends circle. All of his friends, including himself are the kids of actors, directors, producers, and other rich personalities in Hollywood. In this story, Bret wanted to introduce us to the Gen-X kids. Well, now, what is Gen-X? Generation X kids are those who were born between 1965-80. Their parents used to offer freedom to their kids at the next level. They used to live separately, which was an advantage for the kids to do whatever they wanted.

The Shards ending explained
Bret Easton Ellis (Credits: Casey Nelson)

Gen-X’s wealthy parents used to focus on their own lives and not much on their kids. Therefore, the kids who attend elite schools, used to have easy access to whichever drugs they wanted, used to live lavish lifestyles, and owned luxurious cars. There’s a new student, Robert Mallory, in the Buckley school.

Bret recognizes him as he once saw him in a movie theatre. But Robert refuses the claims Bret made. Bret discovered that Robert used to have psychiatric sessions and he believes that Robert was the one who killed Trawler. Well, who was Trawler? He was a serial killer who used to exploit and kill women in Los Angeles. He used to trap girls and kill them. 

Bret’s friends’ circle was certainly rich enough, both in quality and money. He had a homecoming King and Queen in their group. Everyone welcomed Robert into the group warmly, but Bret wasn’t happy with all this because he knew that Robert was a liar and dangerous. Bret had a girlfriend, Debbie, who was the daughter of a film producer. Debbie said that he might be imagining things that’s why he isn’t believing Robert.

Well, Bret is Bisexual and preferred boys over girls, so one day, in a hotel, he got attracted to Debbie’s father because of the connections he had. However, the producer took sexual advantage of Bret, and later, Bret started ignoring Debbie. Also, he started having casual sex with his male classmates. One of these classmates got killed, and the news broke out later. Bret always hated Robert because he thought he was insane, and when he started joining pieces to find out who was behind the murder, he was skeptical about Robert.

The Shards ending explained
Bret Easton Ellis (Credits: Casey Nelson)

But, things weren’t in his favor as his friends were blindly believing Robert and saying that Bret could not see the truth. Susan, a girl from the same group, had a boyfriend named Thom, but she started dating Robert secretly. However, Robert and Susan’s relationship blows up later. Debbie, on the other hand, discovers that her horse is dead, and she also finds out that Bret was sexually involved with her father. She got the pictures of the hotel so with a broken heart, she disappeared. 

The Shards Ending Explained

Things get worst, and an ambiguous ending follows. A masked man is then introduced in the story who attacks both Susan and her ex-boyfriend, Thom. Bret never believed Robert, so for him, everything was pointing to Robert. Furious, Bret arrives at Robert’s penthouse apartment and locks it. He then unplugs telephones and other appliances so that Robert becomes helpless. After that, Bret grabs a kitchen knife, and both of them end up fighting with knives. Robert dies, and it is marked as a suicide when asked Bret since he was there, so his words mattered. 

While investigating, Police found some of the remains of a victim who was killed by Trawler. After further investigation, Police discovered that the leads were directly pointing toward Robert. When everyone got the news, they were quite shocked, and it clearly appeared that Bret’s district was correct all this time. But things still didn’t clear up! Trawler was still killing people, which means he wasn’t dead, and Robert suicides. The novel’s ending wasn’t clear, and it left a lot of unanswered questions for us to think about.

The Shards Ending explained
The Shards by Bret (Credits: Financial Times)

We do not know who Trawler was, Who attacked Susan and Thom, and What happened to Robert. But we can make assumptions based on what we have in the novel. Probably, Robert didn’t suicide, but Bret killed him, and he didn’t want to open up in front of the Police. The masked man might be Trawler, and since Robert was evil so he didn’t kill Trawler but claimed that he did. We read that the Police got a lead that pointed toward Robert, and those victims were Trawler’s target, so it means Trawler and Robert were together. The ending of the novel might appear incomplete to you, but that’s the style of Bret. 

The Shards Review

Bret played well with the novel The Shards. The 600 pages long novel can force your mind to think twice if you’re coming on to a conclusion. The story revolves around the author imagining that he, as the protagonist, is going to a rich school and has friends with high-profile families. He likes males but is dating Debbie. Throughout the story, it appears as if Bret is gay but is claiming that he is bisexual.

Even if he didn’t believe Robert, he was obsessed with him. Now that’s something shocking, right? Well, the story appears like that only. Bret is always around. Robert still dates Debbie and has sex with males. We can not deny the fact that the story is kind of dark and thoughtful simultaneously. The entire story that Bret is narrating is a blend of the grotesque and the mundane. You should read the book and come to a conclusion if possible. 

About The Author

  • Anjali Jha

    Hi, I'm Anjali, a science graduate and a content writer, who resides in the Pink City of India i.e., Jaipur. I write articles on movies, series and celebrity gossip. Apart from that, I love designing websites. I've designed a few well-performing websites.

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