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The Insect Farm

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  774 ratings  ·  159 reviews
An eerie debut suspense novel that explores how little one man may know his own brother--and his own mind.

The Maguire brothers each have their own driving, single-minded obsession. For Jonathan, it is his magnificent, talented, and desirable wife, Harriet. For Roger, it is the elaborate universe he has constructed in a shed in their parents' garden, populated by milli
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published July 7th 2015 by Mulholland Books (first published March 10th 2015)
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Jennifer Blaschik
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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Kate~Bibliophile Book Club
I’ve had The Insect Farm on my TBR shelves for a year but I’ve just never gotten round to it. A couple of weeks ago I decided it was there long enough, and that I needed to get it read.

I don’t know what I was expecting when I picked up The Insect Farm, but what I read definitely wasn’t it! And not necessarily in a bad way either! Just in that kind of, what’s really going on here, way!

I’m not going to dissect the plot, but I will say that the blurb above is not an accurate representation of wha
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Two brothers, Jonathan and Roger, Roger has some learning disabilities, mental issues. We never really know just what is wrong with Roger. I think this book would have be far more interesting if we could have heard what Roger was thinking. But the story is from Jonathan's perspective only, he is the narrator. Jonathan takes care of his brother Roger after the death of their parents, which he will do for his entire lifetime. But prior to their parents deaths, Jonathan meets Harriet and they go of ...more
Jul 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Full Review at Tenacious Reader:

The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble is a fascinating look into one man’s life, and his relationship with his brother. Jonathan is the younger brother of a much better looking, but also simple minded Roger. Much of this book revolves around their relationship and the impact it has on Jonathan’s life.

Jonathan is trying to live a normal life. He goes to college, falls in love and seems to be headed there. But, his insecurities c
Lynn Williams
Jul 21, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 out of 4 stars
’ve had a few days to reflect on The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble and yet in spite of the extra time for reflection my thoughts are still a bit of a jumble.

The Insect Farm brings to us the Maguire brothers, Jonathan and Roger. Even though there is something of an age difference the two grow up with a strong bond and are virtually inseparable – up to a point. The point where Jonathan becomes interested in girls and having a social life an
Ellen Gail
May 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, first-reads
I have a lot of thoughts on this one, and I'm pretty sure they all contradict each other. So if this review makes very little sense, it's because my feelings about The Insect Farm make very little sense.

This is the story of Jonathan Maguire and his brother Roger, who has an unidentified mental disability. The plot is set in 1960s/70s England as Jonathan grows up, goes to school, gets married, etc. To give away too much of the plot would fall into major spoilers category, but let's just say it's
Joanne Moyer
Roger is Jonathan's older brother and though he has a mental handicap, he is always sure to protect Jonathan and keep him safe from childhood bullies or anyone else who may want to hurt or upset him, as an older brother should.
As they age they each have their own desires and obsessions, Jonathan's is his wife Harriet and Roger's is his insect farm. Circumstances lead to Jonathan becoming Roger's guardian, he refuses to have him put into a 'home' and changes his life plans to take care of his bro
Hannah (Vamp of Savannah)
DNF 13%

Just a big ol' bowl of ehhhh.

Aug 04, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm very conflicted when it comes to this book.
On one hand it was a very enjoayble read, the plot was very interesting and huge YAY for an unreliable narrator that was FINALLY properly constructed!
so props for you, Stuart!


My main problem is with the ending.
It was obvious who's the killer like 5 minutes after the murder. Even though, I really enjoyed following the main chcracter and was curious if the police will find out who'd done it.
The ending was very anticlimatic, I was really expecting some
Oct 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Slow burning book, but you get to connect with the characters.

I felt the narrator’s emotions to the point, whenever he was angry, hurt, sad or in love, I strongly felt the same. By no means do I say that he is a good person, far from it! But the book was narrated beautifully.

I wish the pace was a bit faster though because I got bored so many times where I was about to DNF the book. Overall, it was alright
2.5/5 stars
Sep 29, 2020 marked it as to-read
Haven't read this yet, but it's on sale for Kindle for $1.99, if you wanna try it out. Check it out here. ...more
C Solis-Sublette
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found this psychological narrative in the science fiction section of the bookstore, which is what peaked by interest. At first, I thought the novel had been misplaced. The insect farm, itself, does play an important role in the novel. It is a setting, yes, but - in many ways - a character by way of community/microcosm. But does that warrant its placement in the sci-fi genre? As I read on, and the story unfolded, it began to make a little more sense. The insect farm does play a more important r ...more
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received a free copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program in exchange for an honest review.

'The Insect Farm' is the story of Jonathan and his older brother Roger. Roger has an unidentified mental handicap that gives him a youthful glee for Jonathan's cheesy jokes, an obsessive enthusiasm for insects, and a blank stare he can hide his secrets behind. The story is told from Jonathan's perspective - he meets a girl, goes off to college, then his parents die and he has to move home
Anne Fast
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Insect Farm was a terrific read. The novel revolves around the obsessive lives of the Maguire brothers. Jonathan's obsession is Harriet who eventually becomes his wife and Roger's is insects and has created a world for them in a shed.
The novel follows the lives of two brothers. Jonathan who leads a normal life and Roger who is "simple" and views the world as a child would. As the brothers grow older Jonathan moves on to university and Roger remains engrossed in his insect world.
A house fir
May 26, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book has an intriguing plot, no doubt, but it's another book about men and their quest to own women - their bodies, their sex lives, their careers. I'm just so tired of this narrative. ...more
Jul 23, 2020 rated it did not like it
With a title and cover like could have (should have?) been so much more than bland characters in a slightly sub-par addition to the bland crime-thriller genre.
Feb 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Actual rating: 2.5, rounded to 3

Ugh the dialogues ugh. They are SO unnatural, they kill me. I skipped a whole 100 pages though.
Lizeth Alatorre
Jun 03, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is about both the Maguire brothers. Roger has a few disabilities such as mental issues. Jonathan is the brother who after both their parents die in a fire. He takes care of Roger and sacrifice his chance to go to university along with his wife Harriet. And so at this point a chain-reaction unfolds.

This story is quite difficult to explain but I loved it. Yes, there’s plot holes like the prologue what happened there? We never got a straight forward answer but most likely it was Roger an
Anne Goodwin
When his parents die in a house fire, Jonathan Maguire decides to give up his studies at Newcastle University and move back to London to live with his brother. Six years older but with the mind of an eight-year-old, Roger has little understanding of the workings of the social world, but is an expert on the community of insects he breeds in glass-fronted cages in a garden shed. Despite their age difference, the boys were extremely close as children and Jonathan is determined to do the right thing ...more
Mar 19, 2017 rated it liked it
This book started out fairly slowly for me. I am not a fan of traditional love stories, but as the love became more unconventional, the characters took on much more interesting personas. This book is a very good mix of love, hate, and all the life that happens in between. The only reason for 3 stars was because of the amount of time it took to get started and the fact I had it all figured out before the end; however, the book is a good read. As one of the characters says toward the end, "We move ...more
Melissa Kulkarni
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
I liked this book. I finished reading it a few days ago and I'm still thinking about it. It's not really about a serial killer brother like the book sleeve suggests. It's more about the 2 brothers and their relationship. ...more
Reece Smith
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I started to hate this books somewhere around the middle. The writing style is too long winded. The author might say, "I decided, indeed, to circumnavigate the table - deciding that their was little else one could do if one were unable to move through matter - in order to reach my mug of tea, which I had placed there earlier in the hopes that it might cool down by the time i was ready to enjoy it." Instead of just saying, "I picked up my tea." Or something like that.

Why does British authors alw
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Disclaimer: Only now that I read the summary again, I realize that it does not say serial killer but just killer. Still knowing my expectations may be helpful??? Not sure, but I'm too lazy to fix my review.

This book was not as advertised on the front cover but I still enjoyed the story for the human aspects rather than the promised serial killer brother. I was expecting this book to be some creepy romp into the mind of a killer who desposed of bodies via insects or killed with them. What I got w
Martin Allen
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Readable but predictable. Main character wasn’t particularly engaging or believable, and whilst I know he was specifically written as a jealous type, I couldn’t warm to him. Author over-repeated main character’s use of adjectives like ‘lovely’ when referring to main character’s wife, elements of misogynistic descriptions - over-reliant on references to physicality and especially breasts when describing main female character.

First half of the book is a slow burner, second half is pacier. The ‘tw
Joanna Blackwood
Apr 12, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
There are highly qualified people at publishers who are paid to edit books. I can only suppose they were all on holiday when this came one came across the desk. It’s about 100 pages too long, with absolutely too much minute unnecessary detail. I found myself shouting “Oh COME ONNNNNN” out loud multiple times.
The author has literary aspirations I can tell, it put me in mind of Ian Banks or even Ian Mcewan at a stretch, with the lingering sense of menace, but the quality of writing is just not th
Steph M
Apr 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I finished the book last night and was okay with it.
After reading a review about how the prologue connected to the book itself (which it didn't at a glance) I enjoyed the story much more.

I found the over all book a little repetitive, with Jonathan's constant complaining and distrust of Harriet which made him rather unlikeable to me. And the rituals of waking up Roger although that is probably used to portray his autism, because they seemed to happen so close together.

The twists were very obvi
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jonathan and Roger Maguire are brothers. They lead fairly normal lives, with Roger, the elder, being mentally challenged.

Roger builds an insect farm. He purchases varieties of insects, and observes their behaviour. Jonathan, our narrator, attends an out of town university, together with his girlfriend Harriet. The boys are obsessed, Roger with his insect farm, and Jonathan with beautiful flautist Harriet.

Described as a psychological thriller, the pace of this is somewhat gentle.

Read my full revi
Jan 31, 2021 rated it liked it
3 ⭐️

This book left me feeling underwhelmed. I didn’t realise this was a slow burn mystery. Maybe I’d enjoy and appreciate it more if I had known beforehand.

Based on the summary given, I thought either Roger or Jonathan was a serial killer. But no. There’s only one crime (which I could guess correctly). And this book revolves around that and how the insect farm comes in handy.

And regarding the ending, I don’t know how I feel about it. But I think I could guess the events that had taken place in
Ellis Moore
Mar 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I listened to this book as an audiobook from whole story audiobooks.

This book was not what I had anticipated it to be at all, in a good way. Most books like this I personally find quite predictable, but this book genuinely kept us guessing, even when it made it clear to us we had apparently already been given all of the answers. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it quick and easy to get through. For an easy light thriller read, then I'd suggest this book.
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Insect Farm is one hell of a good read. At first the reader is not exactly sure what is going on but as the pages turn the reader finds himself immersed in a murky world of insects, mental retardation, and murder. The plot is involving and the premise is interesting and uncommon. My advice to the any reader is buy this book and await the arrival of The Bridge, the writer’s next excellent novel.
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