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.


About operation100books

Hi, my name's Emily and I'm starting the 100 book challenge. 100 books. 12 months. Can I do it? Update: Needless to say I did not finish the 100 book challenge. I'm still at it though and have strayed from The List entirely; but never say never. I will finish The List...some day. View all posts by operation100books

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