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The Wasp Factory

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  87,981 ratings  ·  4,575 reviews
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; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his fru ...more
Paperback, 244 pages
Published April 1st 1990 by Abacus (first published 1984)
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May you mean narrator? yes. For an unreliable author I recommend The Secret or anything by someone who thinks they are a wizard. Paulo Coelho would fit.
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  87,981 ratings  ·  4,575 reviews

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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
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
"What are you reading?"

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

"Do you like it?"


"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

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,
Richard Derus
Aug 01, 2013 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 of E
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Apr 25, 2016 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
Paul Bryant
Sep 30, 2007 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
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nifty freakshow with significantly horrific tableaux which will remain with you somewhat of an eternity...!!
Kevin Kelsey
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 22, 2008 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.
Sep 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lynne King
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Timothy Urges
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Both sexes can do one thing specially well; women can give birth and men can kill.

Sixteen-year-old obsessive compulsive Frank uses ritual and recreation to make his days fulfilling. Whether he is torturing bugs or killing birds, it all has purpose.

Frank’s violently unstable brother Eric escapes a mental institution and decides to head home. Frank is excited to see his brother again, so he awaits his return and their reunion.

Not for the faint of heart, this book is transgressively delightful. M
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 twis
Mar 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: british
Highland Porn

Lord of the Flies meets American Psycho on the Moray Firth. Frank, a teenage lad with no official record of his existence, lives with his father in an isolated dune land cottage. He spends his time killing birds and other small animals. Occasionally he kills people. His principle hobby is bomb-making, at which he excels. Frank’s half-brother Eric is on the run from a psych-ward. While on the lam he kills and eats dogs. Even Frank considers Eric nuts. But blood is blood, even if it’s
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
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 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
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
Em Lost In Books
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 bu
Maggie G.
Nov 14, 2007 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.
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.

4* The Wasp Factory
1* The Steep Approach to Garbadale (garbagedale)
2* Stonemouth

As Iain M banks:
4* Look to Winward
3* The State of Art
4* The Algebraist
TR Matter
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
"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 that I was going through."

A glimpse into the mind of this books lead character! Frank, a 16 year old, who lives with his father on the outskirts of
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
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
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
One of the most disgusting books that were supposed to be iconic and just weren't. Or were. Nope, weren't.

(view spoiler)

They do a lot of shit for the fuck of it, just think of hiding a snake in a prosthetic leg.

I think it's about 2.5 stars. And I'm not gonna round it up.

Edward Lorn
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of hot dogs
Recommended to Edward by: Josiah
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)
Oct 31, 2020 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
DNF around page 30.

Story up to that point: There's this teenage boy who doesn't officially exist because his hippy dad didn't tell the government when he was born. He spends much of his time going through the forest killing animals, whose heads he then mounts on Poles (not sure why that's capitalized).

His brother escapes from a psychiatric hospital and is on his way home. That's as far as I got. The story is told through Killer Boy's thoughts and I do not want to spend time in the head of anyone
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
Damn this book. This book is so damn disturbing and problematic at so many different levels.

Like the main narrator is a 16 year old turning 17 soon who has already killed three kids, including his brother and his younger cousin.

Then wishing for the death of his father.

All without any form of guilt or remorse.

And this character is pretty non-existent as his birth was never registered and he never had a proper social communication and connection other than his father and his brother who ran away
Nandakishore Varma
Oct 13, 2012 rated it liked it
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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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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