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The Wasp Factory

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  53,620 Ratings  ·  3,151 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 do
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Paperback, 192 pages
Published 1998 by Simon & Schuster (NYC) (first published 1984)
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Sean
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Angela I don't think this is the best example of an unreliable narrator but can't elaborate why without spoiling the story. You could try Liar (Justine…moreI don't think this is the best example of an unreliable narrator but can't elaborate why without spoiling the story. You could try Liar (Justine Larbalestier) or Life of Pi for textbook unreliable narrators. It's sad going in knowing that though...(less)

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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
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Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 08, 2016 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
Stephen
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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
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Richard Derus
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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Paul Bryant
Sep 30, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Lisa
"What are you reading?"

"Ehum, a book I bought at Gatwick airport last week!"

"Do you like it?"

"No."

"What is it about?"

"Psychopaths talking about the microscopic details of their murderous actions, explaining them away with even worse psychopathic deeds that they fell victim to, watered down to banal cause-and-effect psychology!"

"What? Who would read that kind of book? Sounds hard?"

"Well, on the pro side, the language is simplistic, the plot is absurd, and it is short, so I think it caters to youn
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Jaidee
Sep 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: adolescent bois with lots of testosterone
Recommended to Jaidee by: my niece who is too much attracted to testosterone filled young men
3 " I completely get if you rated it 1, 2, 3, 4 or even 5" stars !!!

For the first time ever (in the history of my reading life) I would understand completely any rating for this book. I thought long and hard and for me it was a strong three star that could have been a four star but wasn't for a number of factors.

First of all the writing is terrific. Vivid and robust and hyper-masculine prose with dialogue and thought patterns that zing and sing. I was able to see in my mind's eye what was occu
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Maggie Galvin
Nov 14, 2007 rated it did not like it
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.
Mark
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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Lynne King
Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Algernon
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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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
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Fabian
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Nifty freakshow with significantly horrific tableaux to remain with you somewhat of an Eternity...
Kevin Kelsey
What a story this was. Very competently written. There were moments where it felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest, it was so unnerving, and others where it was surprisingly funny for something so macabre.
Brad
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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Manny
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
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
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Edward Lorn
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
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)
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Mar 24, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Brad
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
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Manju
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Dark. Deceptive. Dysfunctional. Disgusting. Devious.

I wanted to read this for so long but the chances of me reading this increased when I saw this in 1001 books to read before you die. I was warned beforehand that this could be yucky at times but would be rewarding if I stick to the end. Since this is a real shorty at 192 pages, I just couldn't DNF it.

After really hating the protagonist for first 30% of the book, I suddenly started to like him. I still can't put my finger on what changed but
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Lynda
Jul 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Shovelmonkey1
Apr 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Kerry
Jan 17, 2016 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
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Eliasdgian
«Δυο χρόνια αφότου είχα σκοτώσει τον Μπλάιδ, δολοφόνησα τον μικρό μου αδελφό, τον Πωλ, για εντελώς διαφορετικούς και σίγουρα πιο σοβαρούς λόγους, και έναν χρόνο μετά τον Πωλ σκότωσα τη μικρή μου ξαδέλφη Εσμεράλντα, μάλλον από σκέτο καπρίτσιο και χωρίς λόγο. Αυτό είναι και το σκορ μου μέχρι σήμερα. Τρεις. Εδώ και χρόνια δεν έχω σκοτώσει κανέναν άλλο και δεν σκοπεύω να σκοτώσω ξανά στο μέλλον. Ήταν απλώς μια φάση που περνούσα».

Είναι στιγμές που η πρωτοπρόσωπη αφήγηση του δεκαεξάχρονου Frank Cauld
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Bettie☯
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?

haha

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
Ian
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
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Gem Ortega
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 of 5

If I said that I was “conflicted” with my rating on this book, it would be a huge understatement. I thought the synopsis was really interesting and that got me hooked into it in just a snap.

This is certainly not for the soft-hearted reader. If you just want a light-hearted read, well then, get off this because my friend, this is not cut out for you. This has left me, perhaps eighty percent of the time, feeling disturbed–as if there was something over the horizons. It’s really not a nice
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Adam
Jul 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
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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
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More about Iain Banks...
“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.” 44 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.” 21 likes
More quotes…