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The Wasp Factory

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  50,356 Ratings  ·  2,902 Reviews
"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 gr
Paperback, 244 pages
Published 2002 by Abacus (first published 1984)
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(showing 1-30)
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mark monday
a gentle coming-of-age tale set in rustic scotland, depicting the charming misadventures of a precocious lad and his idiosyncratic older brother as they struggle to understand themselves and each other.

this is some hard stuff, and by "hard" i mean Hard Like the Marquis de Sade Is Hard. do not read this if you cannot stomach depictions of animal torture. do not read this if you cannot stomach the murder of children. this one was hard for me to read at times, and i read some pretty terrible things
Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 08, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic
”Of course, I know how small a piece of land my island is; I’m not a fool. I know the size of the planet and just how minuscule is that part of it I know. I’ve watched too much television and seen too many nature and travel programmes not to appreciate how limited my own knowledge is in terms of first-hand experience of other places; but I don’t want to go farther afield, I don’t need to travel or see foreign climes or know different people. I know who I am and I know my limitation. I restrict m ...more

Now we all know that dating a fictional psychopath or a sociopath can be a lot of fun. While it is true that these individuals rarely make viable candidates for a long term commitment, short term relationships have been shown to have some real upside. For example, dating a psychopath can be a “breath of fresh, adventurous air” following the end of a stale, boring and unsatisfying relationship as they are much more “uninhibited” and willing to experiment than the typical person. In addition, a p
Richard Derus
Aug 01, 2013 Richard Derus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4.95* of five

The Publisher Says: 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; & 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
Paul Bryant
Sep 30, 2007 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Huh, what? Oh no – tell him I'm out. It's the guy who rang last week – no, I don't want to speak to him, no---HI IAIN!! Great to hear from you. Yeah, yeah. How's it hanging? Yeah. So. What can we do you for today? Well yes, you told me that last week. You've written a novel, great. Oh yes, ha ha, that's what we do here, we publish books. Yes but – you know, first novels are not that easy to sell. You have to have an angle. What's that? You've got an angle? Great. Great. Listen, er ---- oh what? ...more
Maggie Galvin
Nov 14, 2007 Maggie Galvin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: posers and sociopaths
Recommended to Maggie by: someone currently in therapy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lynne King
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 13, 2016 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
This is one of the most bizarre books I have ever read yet so very captivating.

The book is told from the perspective of 16yo Frank who is a member of an extremely dysfunctional family living on the outskirts of a remote Scottish village. His brother Eric is in a psych hospital, his Father is just plain weird and his Mother left when he was very young.

The story is somewhat confusing to begin with. You are told things about the people and the town and the area as though you already know the histor
Apr 25, 2016 Algernon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

What if ...

... what if Holden Caulfield was born on a remote Scottish Island into a disfunctional family, with a former anarchist for a father and a flower-power mother who ran away soon after he was born? Banks envisioned his angsty teenager character as a sort of alien living on a deserted planet, a translation of one of his science-fiction ideas. The object of the study is sanity and ethics when the individual is removed from the ordinary social interactions most of us take for granted.

I wa
J. Kent Messum
I finally got around to a book that is considered a modern classic by many. Trust me, my 3-star rating was a surprise to even myself.

The Wasp Factory had been on my radar for quite some time, a highly recommended novel from a celebrated writer that I just never seemed to get started on, always jockeying for position in my mile-high TBR pile. I'm often told it's a sure horse to bet on, so I finally made a point of reading it, and my expectations were high. By the end of the book those expectatio
I've read this too many times to give a straight up reaction review, and I feel like any significant writing I might attempt on this book would necessarily become an essay. It's too late at night for that, so maybe next time. Instead, here is what I was thinking this time through:

• I love Frank. I don't mean I love to hate him. I mean I love to love him. And I think it is one of the greatest achievements of Iain Banks' career that he makes me love Frank. I empathize with him as he maintains his
Nandakishore Varma
Question: Are violence and cruelty innate to human nature – or is man inherently civilised?

This is the question posed by that most controversial and loved/ hated novel, The Lord of the Flies. The same question is posed in this book too. However, whereas the canvas was a huge one there, in The Wasp Factory, the reader is viewing things under a microscope. Rather like watching bugs.

From chapter one onwards, Iain Banks invites us into the head of Frank Cauldhame, who is one seriously disturbed teen
Nov 22, 2008 Manny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Scots teens with mutilated genitals who ingeniously torture animals and commit untraceable murders
I admit it's a narrow demographic. But if this is you, then I promise you're gonna love it.
K.D. Absolutely
Mar 24, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010); 100 Best English Novels in the 20th Century
Shelves: 1001-core, gothic, first
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I said I was going to listen to it the next time I read it and here I go.

Later ....

An intelligent man I know is also an incorrigible literary snob who believes that the last author of any true literary merit was Faulkner, and that anything that has come since must be poor by definition (himself excluded, though I suspect I am not). He reads more recent texts because he must (for school or pedagogical purposes), and his feelings about them are predominantly negative.

So he read the Wasp Factory a
Edward Lorn
Oct 31, 2016 Edward Lorn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of hot dogs
Recommended to Edward by: Josiah
Shelves: paperbacks
2.5 stars rounded down and explained.

I hate hiding reviews, but I cannot discuss what ruined this book for me without spoiling it. So, if you've read the book, clickety-click that spoiler tag. Go on. I dare ya...

(view spoiler)
WHAATTT?! Never read anything like it! A very dark, macabre, insane, unsettling and disturbing book. How do you rate something like this? It certainly can't be described as enjoyable. Then why couldn't I put the damn thing down?! Why did I allow myself to be drawn in to the violence, even as I'm trying to imagine what could possibly drive someone to do such sick things? If I said I thought this book was simply outstanding, what does that say about me? Ah, damn it! enough with the questions. I'm ...more
Apr 11, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: dog haters and budding psychos everywhere
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Holy Shit! American Psycho meets Lord of the flies with a little bit of Countryfile thrown in! It took me one commute to read this book and it may be telling of my own psyche that I didn't actually consider Frank to be that crazy. Eric the dog burner was blatantly bat shit crazy but Frank, despite his slightly odd proclivities relating to the collection of animal heads on sticks and wasps in "future telling" mazes appeared to be eccentric at best. Ok he did have a fairly alarming body count unde ...more
Rebecca McNutt
The Wasp Factory is incredibly disturbing even for a horror/thriller novel. I didn't think it was a very original book but I still liked it and found it interesting.
Jan 17, 2016 Kerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was wonderful and it's definitely in my top 10 of favourite books.
A story about mental illness and how it affects a family. The main character and narrator Frank is very likable despite his strange and homicidal tendencies. It's written in a lovely style that makes it a pleasure to read.
It's a story about childhood, family, nurture versus nature, secrets, violence, murder, mental illness, adaptability, being different & thriving despite it all. There are unexpected plot
Disconcerting having Frank tell of things in such a matteroffact way. Glad this was not an evening encounter, and should I now be scared of
a) the Scotland in general?
b) folk from Dunfermine in particular?


That ending!? Could have done without that twist.

3* The Wasp Factory
1* The Steep Approach to Garbadale
2* Stonemouth

As Iain M banks:
4* Look to Winward
3* The State of Art
4* The Algebraist
TR Matter
Six thoughts on The Wasp Factory:

1. Yes, The Wasp Factory has a lot of disturbing images of a psychotic youth committing violence on people and animals.

2. Yes, it's worth it. Everything has a reason, a purpose. The book is full of physical and emotional violence, but it's decidedly not gratuitous.

3. Iain Banks is once again inside my head, but this time it disturbs me rather deeply. I'm mildly OCD. (A good tax lawyer has to be OCD to some extent.) I say "mildly" because my OCD doesn't interfere
Nov 23, 2015 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nifty freakshow with significantly horrific tableaux to remain with you an eternity.
Jul 28, 2007 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not the feint hearted
For all the so called controversial works out there, few truly shock. I can honestly say Wasp Factory is in this limited company. I wasn't reading for shock value though, and I was still rewarded,weird characters, great narrator, good satire,pitch black humor, and a tale of bizarre Scottish gothic. Lots of unanswered questions and in many ways resembles the slow unvealing of a nightmare(there are scenes of such horror in this book I had to put it down for a minute after reading them.)My first Ba ...more
Gloria Mundi
Things I learned from this book:

- there are vicious killer rabbits out there, so watch out;

- you can make a bomb out of pretty much anything, even a five year old can do it;

- if you let a psychotic hippy with a penchant for psychological experiments bring up kids on an isolated island, the kids will invariably turn out to be looneys (well, duh).

This was good overall. I enjoy Banks' writing style and the characterisation was superb. The demented world of a teenage psychopath is delightfully reali
Chilly SavageMelon
Previously having reviewed some of Banks sci-fi, I was eager to delve into the “straight fiction”, and this was his first novel. It is certainly stunning, sort of the Columbine version of Holden Caufield, were the reader is given entry into the first person mind of a kid who’s not all there, at war, and doesn’t mind if the world knows it. Frank has murdered three of his siblings, and currently his older brother is on the lamb from a mental institution. He has a unique existence, having grown up ...more
Diamond Cowboy
I must say that this was a very well written book. The charictor development was awesome. The plot was good. It was not my type of book however. It left me disturbed.
The book is about two teen agers who are troubled and ingage in many illeagle practices such as murder and the torture of innocent animals. It reminded me of Lord of the flies some what.
Enjoy and Be Blessed.
Sep 29, 2008 Shedim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shedim by: Chad
Shelves: novels
The Wasp Factory, Bank's clever and unwinding thesis on nature versus nurture, is often accused of sensationalism through shock. While one might consider the events and actions of the characters disturbing (despite their spartan descriptions), the author's attempt to mirror the brutality of the real world builds the foundation to the paradox and paradigms exposed in the story (the brutality which also serves as inspiration for Frank's creation of the Factory).

This is a story about the power of m
Dec 11, 2016 Robin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, horror, debut
Frank lives with his father in their home on a tiny Scottish island where he's lived with the aftermath of a nasty "accident". In a Dexter-turned-Celtic fashion, we learn about the three murders he committed during his childhood. Each murder is worse than the one before, if that is possible. He lives a solitary existence, dominating the island and the animals on it - which entails a lot of brutality that isn't for the faint of heart. And as if that's not enough, Frank's older brother has escaped ...more
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This author also published science fiction under the pseudonym Iain M. Banks.

Banks's father was an officer in the Admiralty and his mother was once a professional ice skater. Iain Banks was educated at the University of Stirling where he studied English Literature, Philosophy and Psychology. He moved to London and lived in the south of England until 1988 when he returned to Scotland, living in Edi
More about Iain Banks...

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“All our lives are symbols. Everything we do is part of a pattern we have at least some say in. The strong make their own patterns and influence other people's, the weak have their courses mapped out for them. The weak and the unlucky, and the stupid.” 40 likes
“Sometimes the thoughts and feelings I had didn't really agree with each other, so I decided I must be lots of different people inside my brain.” 20 likes
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