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The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

The Wasp Factory (1984)

by Iain Banks

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,341150822 (3.81)1 / 437
  1. 111
    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. 31
    Complicity by Iain Banks (heidijane)
  3. 53
    Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (arthurfrayn)
  4. 20
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: children being creepy
  5. 10
    God's Own Country by Ross Raisin (Clurb, chrisharpe)
  6. 33
    Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Grotesqueries, family life and sibling rivalry.
  7. 00
    Tan dulce, tan amargo by Roberto Carrasco (nosoyretro)
  8. 11
    The Bridge by Iain Banks (xtien)
    xtien: Banks's debut novel.

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English (148)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All (150)
Showing 1-5 of 148 (next | show all)
Were books about unpleasant children doing unpleasant things in vogue in the 1980s? This made me think of Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy, and I feel like I've read other similar books. In any case, though the ending revelation went some way to alleviating/explaining some of my quibbles with the book, I overall found this to be a very well written evocation of something I had no desire to read about. So, kudos to Iain Banks I guess, but I won't be rushing to reread or recommend this.
  Stevil2001 | May 5, 2017 |
2.5 stars ( )
  ACascadeofBooks | Oct 5, 2016 |
This book had such potential. A young man who has a history of psychosis and murder. Yet, it's his brother whom he considers crazy. The machinations Frank goes through to "read" the signs, protect his home and surrounding areas, and continue with his every day life were very intriguing. His friendship with Jamie could have been better explored. Eric's descent into madness could have been better illustrated. Frank's father's motivations should have been clearer.

All-in-all, this book was very disappointing. It was engaging to a point, then it was over. The end was a quick jump off a cliff with nothing resolved and nothing explained.

Not recommended. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Sep 9, 2016 |
I read this book under protest for the Dark Forces reading group in Austin, Texas, at Book People, headed by the great Rick Klaw. It was dark and disturbing, and over a decade later, it still sticks with me. The darkness of the father and son, the evil committed by the son, are all starkly portrayed and all too real. Give me vampires and werewolves any day over these human monsters! ( )
  chibitika | Aug 29, 2016 |
A fantastically well written book but I'm glad it's over and I will definitely not be reading it again. ( )
  thebookmagpie | Aug 7, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 148 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Iain Banksprimary authorall editionscalculated
Marcellino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped.
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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684853159, Paperback)

"I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped. I already knew something was going to happen; the Factory told me."

Those lines begin one of the most infamous of contemporary Scottish novels. The narrator, Frank Cauldhame, is a weird teenager who lives on a tiny island connected to mainland Scotland by a bridge. He maintains grisly Sacrifice Poles to serve as his early warning system and deterrent against anyone who might invade his territory.

Few novelists have ever burst onto the literary scene with as much controversy as Iain Banks in 1984. The Wasp Factory was reviled by many reviewers on account of its violence and sadism, but applauded by others as a new and Scottish voice--that is, a departure from the English literary tradition. The controversy is a bit puzzling in retrospect, because there is little to object to in this novel, if you're familiar with genre horror.

The Wasp Factory is distinguished by an authentically felt and deftly written first-person style, delicious dark humor, a sense of the surreal, and a serious examination of the psyche of a childhood psychopath. Most readers will find that they sympathize with and even like Frank, despite his three murders (each of which is hilarious in an Edward Gorey fashion). It's a classic of contemporary horror. --Fiona Webster

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:01 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Frank, a disturbed boy who lives alone with his father, creates a bizarre fantasy world for himself which includes strange rituals and murder.

» see all 4 descriptions

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Average: (3.81)
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