Book Reviews of The Wasp Factory

The Wasp Factory
The Wasp Factory
Author: Iain Banks
ISBN-13: 9780349101774
ISBN-10: 0349101779
Publication Date: 4/1/1992
Rating:
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 18

3.4 stars, based on 18 ratings
Publisher: Abacus
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

21 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 133 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
I got this book without even knowing what it was about. I just heard that is was very disturbing and disgusting, so I had to check it out. Well besides being both of those it is also a very good book. The plot is very interesting and the end surprised the heck out of me. And disturbed or not the maine character is brilliant in his own warped way. The Wasp Factory he created is a pretty amazing piece of gadgetry even if it does torture the wasp.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 66 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
From the reviews I've read, I discovered that readers either hate or love The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. Written in the early 80's, The Wasp Factory reveals the first person narrative of a teen-aged serial killer, Frank Cauldhame, who never gets caught (that's not a spoiler; the reader is aware from the start that the teenager's murders have never been traced back to him).

Using bizarre religious ceremony and imaginative contraptions, Frank has an insatiable appetite for killing rodents and insects. He sees nothing wrong with blowing up rabbits or incinerating wasps, yet is appalled when his brother, who is equally psychotic, burns dogs alive. After a few chapters, the dark humor and hypocrisy of Frank's evil habits are amusing.

The Wasp Factory is a twisted tale guaranteed to give the reader the creeps, but also a chuckle or two. It's also less than 200 pages, so it makes for a good afternoon of reading a complete story.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 564 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
This was indeed a very strange read going into the mind of a seriously disturbed young person who spends his time carrying out boyish rituals including murder of young family members and killing animals. Some very shocking scenes are spread throughout the novel and a surprising twist at the end. I have to admit that Frank was very creative in how he did away with his young relations - very macabre. Some would-be mystery writers could take some lessons from Banks! The book definitely keeps your interest and is very well-written; however, it seemed a little over the top and I'm not sure that I would recommend this one to others.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
"Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different and more fundamental reasons that I'd disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Emerelda, 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." - Frank, in The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

**

This is, beyond the gruesomeness, really an entertaining story. It is rich with black humor and interesting character development.

While contemplating the author's sanity and humanity, I was reminded of a time when Ken and I were discussing the whole idea of "write what you know". He took the stand that you could write about anything and do it well with enough talent and imagination and he backed up his idea by writing a poem from the point of view of a serial killer. The poem was so intensely disturbing that I asked him to destroy it, lest homicide detectives (coming across the poem on his computer under some sort of odd and coincidental circumstances) zeroed in on him as their main suspect.

I am sure Banks did much the same when writing this book about a family of sociopaths. He just had the nerve to see it published.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 159 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Creepy but intriguing.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 25 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Creepy book, great narrator!
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 373 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Be forewarned that this novel disturbs the reader, especially if that reader cares at all for animals or children. The young serial killer, Frank, shows brutality, inhumanity, creativity, and a cursory remorse for particular deaths. I could not believe someone would think of some of the things that happened in this book, much less write them down and have them published. Iain Banks is fearless; I will give him that. And also three and a half stars.

I plowed through the uncomfortable parts with the help of anxiety medicine and I'm glad I did. The payoff at the end (what a twist!) was worth it; however, Banks beats the reader over the head with "the moral of the story," so to speak, by explaining the symbolism in detail that can be found throughout the book. The last few pages are essentially an explanation. I would have rather Banks just let the story stand alone and have the reader come to his or her own conclusions. Now, back to my own wasp factory...
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 239 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Huh. I don't know what to make of this book. It wasn't that good, but it had the potential to be great. I had heard it was "very sick", but I didn't think it was all that bad. Yeah, it had animal cruelty and then the bit with the maggots, but nothing too major. The story itself is disjointed, confusing and the "surprise" ending is well... it falls very very flat. I finished it simply because I wanted to know the end, which I guess is the point, but I didn't find it to be all that entertaining.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 185 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I can't even rate this book, simple as the question of "How much did you like it?" would seem to be. It is horrifying, I feel dirty after finishing it, and it is undeniably brilliant. I will admit I do not have a strong stomach for brutality -- I couldn't finish Don Quixote because I just could not stomach the continual beating of that poor old man -- but while the violence in Don Quixote is casual, the violence in The Wasp Factory is elevated to ritual, and there isn't a moment of it that isn't necessary for the story. (Well, except maybe the battle with the Hare. But a case can be made even for that.) Thinking about it critically, perhaps the only flaw is the psychoanalysis at the end -- it would almost have been more powerful had the twist come and the book simply stopped. But beyond that, reading it was an experience I almost wish I could have erased from my memory, but only just almost.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 14 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A very good book book, very hard to put down. If somebody wanted a glimpse into the mind of a disturbed individual along the lines of Jeffery Dalmer, this is definately the book. The twist at the end is a little disappointing, but it is a great book none the less.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 281 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book totally disturbed me. I actually had a hard time reading it. I wanted to read it to find out where it was going but at the same time I felt uncomfortable while doing so. If you have a hard time reading about animal cruelty or children being murdered, then don't read this book. If you like a book that just might make you squirm while you read it, then you will want to read this one.
It's about a boy, Frank, who became a serial killer at a very young age. To many others he seemed mostly normal on the outside but through the book you get to delve into his mind. There you find that he is a smart kid but very weird in his thinking. Not only is he mentally unstable but his brother is too and his dad doesn't seem quite all there either. As the book goes along you see really how disturbed this boy is and his brother as well. I think that was the part that bothered me the most. The way the author described Frank's daily life and thoughts was quite disturbing. I've read fictional books on serial killers, murderers, etc but no one seemed to get really into their twisted mind as this author did. Made me wonder how stable Iain Banks might be... lol. A very good book but it's not for everyone.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 29 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I devoured this quickly and with great satisfaction and only wished it were a more involved and longer tale. I fell in true fascination with the protagonist and the expertly crafted prose of his depraved youth and surroundings and craved more insight; it could easily have been 200 pages longer and a good deal more satisfying. The protagonist is a young, isolated Scottish boy with a penchant for animal mutilation and magical thinking, it pulls you in and has many passages that resonate in their darkness. I would call this a must-read for fans of dark psychological works despite it brevity. The means by which some minor characters meet their ends will remind you wickedly of the great Edward Gorey.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 110 more book reviews
This book left many questions unanswered, but perhaps that was what the author wanted. It did indeed get me thinking about the characters well after I was finished reading the book. Although this novel falls under the general fiction category, it does have some elements of horror. I found the selfishness of the father to be very disturbing. Quite a bit was disturbing actually. The story kept me interested until the finish, and when all is said and done, I enjoyed it.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 287 more book reviews
I'm really not sure what to make of this book. The main character was a very disturbed individual and quite a few bits sickened me, but something compelled me to keep reading. Was I expecting the ending? Not at all. Why did Frank behave the way he did? [Yes, the book provides some possible answers, but I don't want to give anything away - and I don't think the revelations completely answer all my questions.] And what about Eric? What is this book saying? Are we all trapped inside a wasp factory or do we just think we are? So many questions this book brings forth and I'm going to have to take some time to think over some possible answers, if there even are any.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 404 more book reviews
This was an interesting book about discovery, treasure and manipulation.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 111 more book reviews
This book was very much on the weird side.Some parts of it was hard for me to read. So morbit.Although I am glad I stuck it out to the end.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on
I wasn't sure what to make of it. I can't say I enjoyed reading it, I kept going because of morid fascination. In the end, when the secrets come out, they are both shocking and disappointing, if that makes sense. Eh, it was okay, but not a great read.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 51 more book reviews
Too gruesome to finish.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 81 more book reviews
Meet Frank Cauldhame. Just sixteen, and unconventional to say the least: 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.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on + 235 more book reviews
Meet Frank Caulhame. Just sixteen, and unconventional to say the least: 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 a stage I was going through.
reviewed The Wasp Factory on
Probably the worst book I have ever read. Not because I am offended at the subject matter (insanity, animal abuse, murder) but because it was just plain STUPID.