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The Job of the Wasp

3.20  ·  Rating details ·  688 ratings  ·  161 reviews
A new arrival at an isolated school for orphaned boys quickly comes to realize there is something wrong with his new home. He hears chilling whispers in the night, his troubled classmates are violent and hostile, and the Headmaster sends cryptic messages, begging his new charge to confess. As the new boy learns to survive on the edges of this impolite society, he starts to ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 9th 2018 by Soft Skull Press
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Average rating 3.20  · 
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 ·  688 ratings  ·  161 reviews

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Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I heard the laughter of several boys in a group. I've heard few things more chilling.

This is one of the strangest stories I've read, and also one of the most unsettling. I hesitate to shelf it as horror, as the chills engendered by the author are not the type that keep you up all night, or haunt your dreams if you do manage to drop off . . . and yet, the book is every bit as creepy as its disturbing, fleshy-looking cover.

As many reviewers have mentioned, the Lord of the Flies vibe is strong her
Right from the start, The Job of the Wasp is utterly disquieting. Everything about it just feels somehow off, though it's difficult to put your finger on exactly what the problem is. Perhaps it's the fact that the story is ostensibly narrated by a boy at boarding school, but nothing about the narrative voice sounds like any child or teenager you have ever encountered. Perhaps it's that the time period and geographical setting are so unclear. Perhaps it's even that the title and inexplicably unse ...more
Jessica Sullivan
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Imagine Lord of Flies if it were a surreal, gothic ghost story written by Jesse Ball. That's the best way I can describe this bizarre little book.

The Job of the Wasp begins with an unnamed narrator showing up at a mysterious facility for orphaned boys. We, the reader, are dropped directly into this strange and eerie world where everything and everyone functions in a peculiar and unreliable manner. This is creepy, this persistent sense of the unknown.

The narrator tries to fit in at the facility,
This was my first date with Colin Winnette, and will most definitely not be my last.

I inhaled this book in nearly one sitting. Equal parts Lord of the Flies, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, and Turn of the Screw, we follow an increasingly unreliable and highly paranoid narrator as he becomes confusingly entangled in a series of mysterious murders that take place at a boarding house of sorts for terminally ill and problematic boys (aka the Facility).

Page after peculiar page, I was pulled deeper
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss-arc-s
I've got to say that I was confused through most of this book. There were glimpses of some good creepy scenes but my mind just couldn't fully grasp what was happening. Maybe it's me. Maybe I just didn't get it.

This is well written and other reviewers seem to of enjoyed it so by all means give it a try if it sounds interesting to you.

Thank you to Edelweiss for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Emily May
Jan 29, 2018 marked it as dnf
Shelves: 2018, horror
Too strange, cold, and emotionally-detached for my tastes. I should have probably felt something when the corpses started to show up, but I didn't. ...more
Rachel Bea
will come back when i'm not at work and can use my book copy to write up something!

Okay, it's been a while unfortunately, so I can't really leave a well-worded, descriptive review. i will say that this book appealed to me because it was dark and a bit spooky, with existential angst and twisted humor thrown in there too. add in an unreliable narrator and you got me.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can't help but wonder "What did I miss?" as I look through the reviews on Goodreads and elsewhere. The book is about an orphanage for young boys and a mysterious set of deaths (accidents? murders? suicides?) and potentially supernatural perpetrators. It seems like it's Lord of the Flies-esque at some parts--a Jack/Ralph battle emerges a bit between the narrator and Anders/Fry. But it's quickly the case that Fry is the leader, so there ends that direct parallel. It's hard to say this is a consi ...more
May 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was really enjoying this book for a while there, the unconventional narrator, the strange orphanage, kind of fun until it just becomes... goofy. The biggest problem is probably the narrator, who is amusing at first, but becomes pretty ridiculous after a while. He is entirely analytical and empathetic at all times. Even when under extreme stress or threat of instant death, he is always making extensive erudite observations to the point where it becomes almost comical and then, towards the end, ...more
Ron S
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
A Gothic Lord of the Flies filled with comedic horror from a unique voice.
Jessica Woodbury
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
This is one of those unusual situations where I feel like the other Goodreads reviews for this book sum it up really accurately! (Nice job, y'all.) This is a surreal, kinda gothic-y, kinda horror-y book. (Appropriate blurb from Kelly Link on the back.) It's an exercise in mood. There are tropes and subversion of tropes. It's the kind of book where you are never really sure what is happening, what just happened, or what is going to happen. It doesn't let you get a reliable footing, once you think ...more
Don Gillette
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Intensely creepy, extremely witty, and beautifully written.
Reading this book, I envisioned Holden Caulfield in his dorm at Pencey with "The Omen" and "The Sixth Sense" tossed into the mixture just to make things interesting.
Winnette keeps the reader guessing throughout the book and even as it wrapped up, I was never entirely sure of the "existence" of the main character.
Completely engaging.
Robert McKinnon
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Since I read REVELATION, where his character shares icy beers with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, I have been continually amazed at Colin Winnette's originality. Through HAINTS STAY, a new Western for our age, and now in THE JOB OF THE WASP, Winnette's fresh writing continues to amaze and delight. An initiation story in the middle of a ghost story/murder mystery, THE JOB OF THE WASP is full of wit and surprise. ...more
Oct 08, 2017 added it
Shelves: novels, 2018
I read most of this novel in a single sitting, outdoors in eerie, uncomfortable weather on the edge of a hurricane to the south. Which I wouldn't usually mention in response to a book but in this case that climate so perfectly complemented the creepy, claustrophobic atmosphere of the story that it seems important.

Something I really like in Winnette's fiction is how he works in new modes from book to book, whether the apocalypse story or the western or, in this case, the boarding school novel. He
Andy Weston
Colin Winnette’s Haint’s Stay was one of the highlights of my 2016 reading, a hard hitting coming of age Western in the mould of McCarthy or Lansdale. This is totally different though, perhaps described as quite an English style gothic tale with an element of the supernatural, more with the influence of Henry James or Susan Hill. The setting is a boys’ orphanage, the only building for miles in a dark valley, strangely run by only a Headmaster and a solitary teacher. No location is given for the ...more
Oct 09, 2018 rated it liked it
The Job of the Wasp was an enigmatic, unsettling, and occasionally frustrating reading experience. Everything about this book is set up to keep the reader off-balance, from the disturbingly fleshy cover to the narrator (a pubescent boy who sounds anything but) to the setting, which feels completely isolated and wholly outside of a specific time and place. It's atmospheric and strange and haunting in a quirky way. I read it very quickly and was engaged throughout, but found myself unsatisfied whe ...more
Jun 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
While the writing was good, I found this one just too confusing and thus, uninteresting. I didn't care for the ending, either, which is abrupt and without any explanation of what the story meant and how it all came together.
I received this First Reads Goodreads book, in exchange for my honest opinion.
Feb 25, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Boring and confusing. The "children" speak like literary geniuses (really, "woe" used in casual conversation?) and there is too much internal dialogue. The ending is hardly surprising. At least it's short. ...more
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
A winning, instant-classic-of-the-genre kind of novel, even despite some of its quirky flaws. A young boy arrives at a school for orphans and immediately things start going poorly. It isn't long before they get even worse, with dead bodies and ghosts and a general sense of mental instability among adults and children alike. While Winnette occasionally loses his grip on the storytelling, he keeps the pulse driving and keeps the eeriness growing. I was constantly surprised by the novel's turns and ...more
David Bridges
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A classical feeling goth novel with many other interesting elements. It is part murder mystery within a Lord Of The Flies-style setup. There are orphan boys trying to protect themselves from a perceived haunting and of course, the kid with psychopathic tendencies has risen to the top of their hierarchy. There is more to the story than that though. Our young narrator has just arrived at this crowded boys home and is not only finding it difficult to make friends with the other boys but can’t shake ...more
Julianne (Outlandish Lit)
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
If you liked the style of the movie The Killing of a Sacred Deer, you MUST READ THIS!!
Chris Roberts
Dec 31, 2017 rated it did not like it
The Home for Nonconvertible Boys,
children, in drafty rooms, they room,
the days, they breathe,
now swing down, little brother,
comes the night snatching behind you.

Chris Roberts, God in Increments

Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
At the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, "The Killing Of A Sacred Deer", a new film from acclaimed Greek Yorgos Lanthimos, has been all the rage. The slow, weird thriller about a soft-spoken and detached boy at the centre of a horrible incident, it captured people with the intentionally wooden acting, the eerie atmosphere, and the unanswered questions that it never even really presents.

Then Colin Winnette wrote a short little book that blows that film out of the water.
Concerning a strange y
Elizabeth Willis
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Job of the Wasp is a tense, paranoid novel; it’s the kind of book to sink into on a stormy winter night and read in one sitting (preferably while sipping hot tea).

Our unnamed narrator arrives at a home for orphaned boys. Rather than a warm welcome, he is greeted by faces that meld together, a disturbingly disinterested headmaster, unknown assailants, and an endless array of corpses that keep popping up at inconvenient times. Part ghost story, part boarding school story, the terror of this b
Feb 04, 2018 rated it liked it
When a satirist thanks both Henry James and Haley Joel Osment in his acknowledgments, you know he could use a bit of focus. About 60% of "The Job of the Wasp" skewers "Lord of the Flies" about as well as the title promises, as an orphanage full of unsupervised boys degenerates into a mob of prolix, grandiloquent savages. The pudgy, nameless, verbose narrator may even be a postmodern lampoon of Piggy. But Mr. Winnette isn't satisfied with a single target, so he aims his mockery at a number of tar ...more
Maureen Grigsby
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Strange and sinister. This book is very hard to describe, but suffice to say that the setting is an orphanage filled with adolescent males. Bodies are piling up and who is telling the truth? This novel is sort of a cross between Lord of the Flies, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
Joey B.
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
I wholeheartedly enjoyed the first third of this book, the cat and mouse game of words with the headmaster, but as the book dragged on I didn't care for the, "who done it" type of internal narrative by the main character. The final scene was just a bland twist with a dull ending. ...more
Bill Hsu
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quite the enjoyable rabbit hole to duck into: the narrator's voice, surprising mortalities, and the narrator's entertaining leaps of illogic when confronted with such. ...more
Samuel Moss
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Starts out with this 'Young Torless' or 'Institute Benjamenta' sort of feel. The writing has a late 18th early 19th century feel to it, almost like it has been translated from Austrian or German, and managed to have it never feel affected.

Starts out really strong. The ambiguity and sense of dread falls into place right away, and the strange incidents (view spoiler) see
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
A new boy at a boarding school-like facility lives in a state of paranoia and dislike for the boys around him.

This book is strange, gothic-horror, murder mystery, paranoid psychosis, 'they all hate me because they know I'm better than they are' rolled into a short novel. The author does an excellent job with the unreliable narrator - when bodies start showing up, the viewpoint character may have killed them or he may not have. That's a hard balancing act to pull off when you're seeing through hi
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Colin Winnette is an American novelist, short story writer, and poet. He is the author of several works of fiction: Revelation (Mutable Sound 2011), Animal Collection (Spork Press 2012), Fondly (Atticus Books 2013), Coyote (Les Figues Press 2015), and Haints Stay (Two Dollar Radio 2015). His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Playboy, Lucky Peach, The American Reader, The Bel ...more

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