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The Wasp Factory (1984)

by Iain Banks

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,2081871,183 (3.78)1 / 493
Frank, no ordinary sixteen-year-old, lives with his father outsIde a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank's mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric's escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother's inevitable return - an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly. Iain Banks' celebrated first novel is a work of extraordinary originality, imagination and horrifying compulsion: horrifying, because it enters a mind whose realities are not our own, whose values of life and death are alien to our society; and compulsive, because the humour and compassion of that mind reach out to us all.… (more)
  1. 131
    We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (taz_)
    taz_: I suspect that Iain Banks' "Wasp Factory" character Frank Cauldhame was inspired by Shirley Jackson's Merricat, as these two darkly memorable teenagers share a great many quirks - the totems and protections to secure their respective "fortresses", the obsessive superstitions that govern their daily lives and routines, their isolation and cloistered pathology, their eccentric families and dark secrets. Be warned, though, that "The Wasp Factory" is a far more explicit and grisly tale than the eerily genteel "Castle" and certainly won't appeal to all fans of the latter.… (more)
  2. 30
    God's Own Country by Ross Raisin (Clurb, chrisharpe)
  3. 20
    The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe (hubies)
  4. 31
    Complicity by Iain Banks (heidijane)
  5. 53
    Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (arthurfrayn)
  6. 43
    Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Grotesqueries, family life and sibling rivalry.
  7. 00
    The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches by Gaétan Soucy (hubies)
  8. 00
    Tan dulce, tan amargo by Roberto Carrasco (nosoyretro)
  9. 11
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: children being creepy
  10. 11
    The Bridge by Iain Banks (xtien)
    xtien: Banks's debut novel.
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» See also 493 mentions

English (181)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (184)
Showing 1-5 of 181 (next | show all)
The Wasp Factory is a book originally published in 1984, and it is considered controversial because it was one of the first books to show how homelife can impact the mental health of children. The child featured in the book comes from a very challenging home life. The book was written in first person, which in 1984 was an unusual writing style. Writing in first person brings the novel to a personal level, and because it's through the lens of a child, the reader can't help but feel an overwhelming sense of sadness for the child. It also brings forward that children can be impacted by mental illness and be deemed psychotic and dangerous.

Discussing Mental Health in the Classroom (Social and Emotional Learning)
https://ny.pbslearningmedia.org/subjects/health-and-physical-education/personal-... ( )
  KylerJones | Apr 25, 2021 |
I found this book extremely disturbing. Ian Banks’ narrator so candidly tells about murdering 3 children and killing animals that as a reader one is almost drawn into feeling sorry for him in a Humbert Humbert kind of way. But Ian Banks is not Nabokov and even if this book successfully got under my skin – it contains some of the most disturbing scenes I have ever read - I never quite believed in the characters. Can a 5 year old commit murder?

Then the finale: I was very disappointed with it. It was too brusque and too tidy. Not that in such a dysfunctional family the events revealed at the end of the book were not plausible, but that the reaction of the main character was so accepting of it all.

I cannot quite pinpoint it, but this book misses a certain ingredient to make it a true masterpiece. As it is, it is a good attempt though.
( )
  RosanaDR | Apr 15, 2021 |
Mit første bekendtskab med Iain Banks er en grotesk og bizar affære om en 16-årig dreng med et noget forstyrret verdensbillede og en hang til destruktion. Sprogligt lækker og en gennemarbejdet historie med en genial slutning.

Trods nogle i mine øjne lidt ligegyldige passager her og der er det en imponerende debut. Jeg skal have læst mere Iain Banks. ( )
  heineaaen | Apr 4, 2021 |
Horrific and disturbing but absolutely unputdownable. ( )
  INeilC | Mar 9, 2021 |
Violence and the strangle minds of children seem to be the main themes of this novel, until you get to the last chapter. Things are turned upside down when our protagonist makes a life changing discovery during the chaos of Eric's return to the island. I won't ruin the surprise, but trust me when I say that this novel will make you question gender roles and stereotypes, as well as the controlling role of parents in a child's upbringing. It's no wonder Banks is considered to be one of the preeminent novelists of his generation, since this was only his first published novel! ( )
  JaimieRiella | Feb 25, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 181 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Iain Banksprimary authorall editionscalculated
Marcellino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped.
Quotations
Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different and more fundamental reasons than I'd disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda, more or less on a whim.

That's my score to date. Three. I haven't killed anybody for years, and don't intend to ever again.

It was just a stage I was going through.
Eric was crazy all right, even if he was my brother. He was lucky to have somebody sane who still liked him.
After I'd come to understand evolution and know a little about history and farming, I saw that the thick white animals I laughed at for following each other around and getting caught in bushes were the product of generations of farmers as much as generations of sheep; we made them, we moulded them from the wild, smart survivors that were their ancestors so that they would become docile, frightened, stupid, tasty wool-producers. We didn't want them to be smart, and to some extent their aggression and their intelligence went together.
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Frank, no ordinary sixteen-year-old, lives with his father outsIde a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank's mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric's escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother's inevitable return - an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly. Iain Banks' celebrated first novel is a work of extraordinary originality, imagination and horrifying compulsion: horrifying, because it enters a mind whose realities are not our own, whose values of life and death are alien to our society; and compulsive, because the humour and compassion of that mind reach out to us all.

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