Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Wasp Factory (Iain Banks)

The Wasp Factory follows life of 16-year-old Frank, a truly sadistic and disturbed kid who likes to torture animals and has to date, killed three people (all children that are related to them), lives with their dad whose brother Eric has just escaped from a sanitarium.

When I was recommended this book, I was told that there was going to be a twist, so, all the way through, I was trying to guess it. I thought that the twist was going to be that Frank never killed those three people. Whilst that could be true (we only have his word to go by, after all), the twist is even more audacious and much more original than that, and it was doubly ironic considering how Frank spent a lot of the novel going on about how much he hated [them]. I was a bit bemused by it.

The book itself is like watching a catfight; not pretty, but impossible to draw your eyes away. The imagery of how he tortured the rabbits was disgusting, but the bit that practically had me reaching for the sick bucket was when Frank described the ordeal that his brother went through when tending to a baby at the hospital. It. Was. Horrible.

Although The Wasp Factory never quite reaches the levels of gleeful sadism that I dreaded, due to me having high expectations for the wickedness, I was still thoroughly disturbed and shocked by it. Frank is one of the most macabre yet interesting literary characters I’ve read about (he sees death as natural and feels no qualms about killing, yet felt compelled to kill his cousin to balance out the numbers in terms of gender), Banks creates him excellently and builds their world and their mindset. It’s an unpleasant book and thus unlikely to make it on my list of favourites, but it’s a fine Gothic tale that receives my recommendation – if you can brave it.


Kayleigh said...

Yay I'm glad you took my recommendation. I was 12 when I read it which says many things about me. I found Frank to be fascinating and totally original, even moreso because of THAT ending. I never saw it coming, how could anybody?
If you are still looking for suggestions, something that also features Scottish adolescents in turmoil is The Cone Gatherers by Robin Jenkins. There's a lot of great stuff about beauty and acceptence in it I think you might like.

anahit said...

I don't want to read this particularly, but now I'm so intrigued as to what the twist is. I'm trying desperately to find the plot details and ending online, but for once people have respected spoiler laws!! grr...

anahit said...

just found out the ending. bloody hell that's a twist!!

and it is incredibly random that i'm so interested in a book that i don't want to read. *shrugs*

Emma said...

Yeah, it's an amazing twist, isn't it? It put everything I'd just read for 240 pages into perspective, and I had to think it all over.

The Mighty Pierre said...

I found out halfway through that there was a twist. Once I knew one was coming I did guess what the twist was but not how it would be revealed or how it wouldcomeabout. That only makes sense to those who have read it.

I found it an interesting read but found the scenes where he killed the children disturbing and not in an at all pleasant way. I cannot see me reading any more of his novels.

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Anonymous said...

Hehe, I was looking up the plot to The Wasp Factory and this is the first option that came up, and my name is Anna, so when I saw that it said "Anna, Look!" I was like...uhh..ok as you command 0___0 And i'm glad I read it, this is a great review, it made me want to read the book and I went out and bought it today :'-)

Emma said...

Hope you enjoy it honey! And you're always welcome back to a blog which shares your name ;) x