Iain Banks – The Wasp Factory

If I could have one word to describe this book, it would be weird. Two words? Seriously weird.

I was recommended this book by someone I used to work with a few years ago, and I just have never got around to reading it, but I’m now seriously questioning the mental health of that colleague, because this book was freaky, and not in a good way.

We’re in the mind of Frank, a slightly unconventional 16 year old, if by ‘slightly unconventional’, you mean graphic depictions of animal torture and detailed stories of how he has killed three people, including his brother and his cousin. Since we’re inside Frank’s head, I felt like we were supposed to feel some kind of alliance with him, but I found him so disturbing that I just couldn’t. No way.

There were times when I found Frank funny or when the author imagined a scenario that although horrific, still made me laugh. But immediately after, I then felt like a bad person for laughing at such a terrible thing. But it did make the book slightly more easy to read.

I’ve read quite a few reviews on Goodreads of how great this book is, and I have to agree with the fact that it is masterfully written, chilling to the bone and well paced to keep the suspense going right to the end. And when you find out the reason for Frank’s odd behaviour and the truths that his father has tried so hard to hide, you would never have expected it. It’s just that the subject matter is so far away from my usual type of book that I just couldn’t find myself enjoying the time I spent reading it.

I bought this book as part of a set of three Iain Banks novels, so I’m going to give the others a try and see if I find them any easier to read, but I’ll reserve judgement until I start.


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