Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Wasp Factory- Iain Banks


“All our lives are symbols. Everything we do is part of a pattern we have at least some say in.”

After reading the synopsis of this book on amazon I decided that I HAD to read it after I finished “A Prayer for Owen Meany”. I looked in about three book stores and no one had it. I finally broke down and bought it off of amazon and patiently waited for it to arrive.

The first thing that struck me as odd about this one was that on the back cover where, usually, there are quotes from various newspapers and magazines praising the book there were also various quotes from newspapers and magazines bashing the book:

“There’s nothing to force you, having been warned, to read it; nor do I recommend it.”


“The Wasp Factory” tells the story of a sixteen year old boy, Frank Cauldhame, growing up on an island in Scotland. The first clue you have to this being a not so normal kid is the fact that he kills small animals and hangs there heads on poles, sacrifice poles he calls them. After that it just gets worse. You find out he has murdered three children (I’m not giving anything away, it says it on the back cover). He is a troubled young person and his family doesn’t help matters. A father with an odd obsession with knowing how tall something is or how much it can hold and a brother freshly escaped out of a mental institution. All of these things just add to the back ground of this slightly more than disturbed boy.

This book is not for the weak of stomach. There are some very graphic descriptions of how he goes about killing animals and on occasion how he killed three children. There is also one such part that made my stomach flip and the yogurt that I was eating (bad idea) was quickly tossed in the garbage.

I was glad to put this one down for a bit and pick it up again at a later time. Even though it’s a short read, at only 180 pages, the graphic content and the emotional torment that Frank goes through becomes too overwhelming and you must put him down and rejoin society to regain a little happiness. It reminded me of another book called “Candy”, it’s about heroin addicts that fall in love, talk about depressing.

Even though it was hard to read and took me a little longer than expected, I am happy to say that it was worth it. In the last chapter simply titled “what happened to me” the book comes full circle and the musings of Frank on his life make you appreciate all that you just went through, together, to get there. Will I ever read this book again? Probably not, but for those of you out there who have a strong stomach and are ok with a slightly more macabre look on life; pick it up, you won’t be disappointed.

A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving


I’ll never forget the first movie that made me cry and neither will my mother. I was about 12 or 13, I think, and we rented a movie called “Simon Birch”. We were huddled on my mom’s bed watching the movie and by the end of it I was in hysterics, just ask my mom. The story of a child who is smaller than the rest and speaks a little differently than the others affected me more than words could express. Now, fast forward almost 13 years and I find myself again affected by a a small boy who is just a little different than the rest.

Let me get this out of the way first, even though “Simon Birch” is based on John Irving’s novel it is completely different and I hold both in high regard. I intend to watch “Simon Birch” again because just reading The List is not enough for me, I am also trying to watch the corresponding movies (I will blog about that adventure in a few days). The story of Owen Meany a boy who is different begins with one of John Irving’s favorite lines:

“I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice–not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.”

The story is told in an almost diary like style through the eyes of Owen’s best friend, Johnny Wheelwright, and even though the story is ultimately about Owen you learn just as much about Johnny as you do of Owen. I will say that I don’t think this story would’ve worked if told from the point of view of Owen Meany. I feel that you needed that sense of mystery surrounding him through out the entire thing so that the ending really hits home. Owen Meany is a special boy, though it takes you a while to see that. It’s mentioned quite early on, but John Irving is writes in the voices and thoughts of a 12 year old so well that you don’t really grasp the scope of how special until he also understands.

I wasn’t a fan of how at some points in the novel Johnny Wheelwright would take over and speak of the “current” wars going on and his feelings on Reagean and the way that America handled things at that time. I’m sure it’s pertinent to show the way Johnny feels about war but it took away from the true underlying emotion of the novel. I will also say that the first couple hundred pages went very slowly for me. I’m not sure if it’s because of the fact that John Irving speaks in a child’s voice so well that I found it dull, but either way once the boy’s grow up (and you can tell when they do) the book just flew from that point on for me. The end had me in tears, much like the movie, but unlike the movie it was also bone chilling.

Owen is a special boy and he is someone you won’t easily forget once you put the book down. As “Life of Pi” said “this is a story that will make you believe in God.” I feel this is also one of those stories. It is a book that will make you believe in God and the astounding effect that one person can have on a community.

Dracula – Bram Stoker


“Oh, my God, what have we done to have this terror upon us!”

I finished this one a few weeks ago but the past few weeks has been a tad busy; what with working and going to my best friend’s wedding. But the time has come for me to post about Dracula.

First off I want to say that I was quite surprised about the format in which Dracula was written. When I first opened it I thought it was going to be a very cut and dry novel format, but what I got were pages filled with diary entries, memos, and letters. This made it easier for me to get into the story and actually fall in love with the characters.

Now, we all know the story of Dracula the bat in the night that sucks the blood from humans, but there were still twists and turns. For example; that he mostly targets women, the way you must kill him or anyone changed by him (stake in the heart and cut off their head and fill it with garlic). One of the most surprising things in the book, aside from the blood sucking demon, was the friendships that sprouted from the tragedies that follow the Count. Mina and Lucy started the book as friends but as their relationship is strained Mina becomes friends with Lucy’s score of suitors and her fiance. The friendships are what kept me interested because even though the dark aspects of the book were interesting the bonds that are formed during the period in which they are trying to rid the world of darkness are so heartwarming that you can’t help but fall in love with each of them.