Maggie Galvin's Reviews > The Wasp Factory

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
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's review
Nov 14, 2007

did not like it
Recommended to Maggie by: someone currently in therapy
Recommended for: posers and sociopaths
Read in August, 2007

** spoiler alert ** Ooooh, shock me with killing things and not caring. Yes, I get it, the main character is nuts. Ok, the main character does horrible things. Sure, beat me over the head with this same set of ideas for another 190 pages. I'm sure it will be worth it in the end, right?

I read the news every day so I was not the least bit surprised anyone could think like this. The weak plot just pissed me off without enlightening me with a new perspective on the issue or entertaining me. The thing that did shock me was that anyone would write an entire book about this crap, and write it so poorly and without any kind of point, other than "Hey, this kid is CRAZY!" I skipped through the rabbit part when I saw what was coming, and after days of forcing myself to continue reading through the disjointed narrative I finally broke down and skimmed through to the end "twist" everyone talks about. Frankly, I was left saying out loud, "Who the fuck cares?" Dude, I live near San Francisco. Everyone here has gender issues. Big freakin deal. All that garbage for such an insignificant and pointless payout. Sigh.

If you like reading things purely for the sake of shock value or just to be able to say you read it, go ahead and read this. And then go get therapy. Otherwise, skip it.

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Reading Progress

02/07/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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Sarah Amen! I am disgusted.

message 2: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Clark You read Maggie Galvin books...why did you choose this one to read? lol cmon

message 3: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Jendriks What does living near San Francisco have to do with this?! By skim reading you've missed the point entirely

message 4: by Bruce (new)

Bruce Reid You skipped half the book, read the end, then decided to share? Thanks for the spoiler.

message 5: by Zeldakinz (new) - added it

Zeldakinz It's really funny that you complain that it didn't "enlighten" you when the book and main character is so anti-enlightenment.

Alison Alsweiler This book was not meant to be skimmed. I can't think of any book at all that context can be gained from with skimming it. Furthermore, it has NOTHING to do with LGBTs.

Barry Welsh Idiotic review

Barry Welsh Idiotic review

Barry Welsh Idiotic review

message 10: by Deep (new) - rated it 1 star

Deep Thought Excellent review. About time someone said it as it should be said. The plot is weak and at best this is a shock book.

message 11: by Grant (new)

Grant Guthree You are stupid

message 12: by Grant (new)

Grant Guthree very stupid

message 13: by Grant (new)

Grant Guthree This is a master piece

message 14: by Grant (new)

Grant Guthree Go read twilight

message 15: by Mick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mick Barry Welsh, considering you don't even WRITE reviews, and opt for name-calling when someone writes a thorough and thoughtful one you disagree with, I'd say you need to turn that mirror around.

message 16: by Mick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mick And Grant Guthree, considering you have NO books on ANY shelf, and can't even spell "masterpiece", I think you might simply be trolling, therefore your opinion carries zero weight. Get off mom's computer, there's a Dr Seuss waiting out there somewhere for you.

message 17: by Finnylicious (last edited Jul 27, 2016 11:13PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Finnylicious Nah, for real though. I have to agree with the people decrying this review. Saying this book is just about a crazy kid with gender issues, and has no deeper point or plot other than to shock, seems hugely reductive.
It's like calling Story of the Eye ''just a shock book about weird sex'' or calling Lolita ''Just a shock book about pedophilia.''
Sure, the shocking elements are there, but to reduce the book down to just those shocking moments feels like you've missed the point.
It's ok not to like a book. I dislike lots of well loved books. But the tone of this review comes across as extremely condescending, implying that people who read The Wasp Factory probably didn't enjoy it, and only read it for the shock value or to tick it off of some imaginary list.

Personally, I found The Wasp Factory to be an exceptionally good piece of transgressive fiction. It played with the tropes of YA literature, and inexplicably found a way to make you empathise with a character who had killed 3 children, and prayed routinely at an altar of bones. The book also felt super tangible, especially as someone who's spent time in small Scottish villages, and the characters were the right mixture of believable and off kilter.
The twist that I see a lot of people calling trite, exploitative, or just silly, actually really worked for me (granted, I didn't go in knowing there was a twist). When it was revealed I realised it had its seeds sown all the way through the novel, not least with Frank openly voicing his disdain for women at various points in the story.
All the way through, in fact, I felt like Iain Banks had a really good grasp on writing mysteries into the story. He drops hints gradually and lets you come to a conclusion at your own pace. And even if you figure out a mystery before its revealed explicitly, the explicit reveal still manages to be satisfying. We all figure out, more or less, what the Wasp Factory is by the part where Frank mentions adding scrap to it, but the full extent of the thing still manages to shock when it's described in detail.

I personally really enjoyed The Wasp Factory. I thought it was a fabulous modern Gothic horror story. It felt almost like something Shirley Jackson would have written if she was Scottish, a little more extreme, and still alive in the 80s.

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