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The Wasp Factory [Paperback]

Iain Banks
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (367 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

27 Jun 2013

'Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different 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 I was going through.'

Enter - if you can bear it - the extraordinary private world of Frank, just sixteen, and unconventional, to say the least.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (27 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349139180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349139180
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (367 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. He gained enormous popular and critical acclaim for both his mainstream and his science fiction novels. Iain Banks died in June 2013.

Product Description


One of the most brilliant first novels I have come across. (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Read it if you dare. (DAILY Express)

A brilliant book, barmy and barnacled with the grotesque. (New Statesman)

A Gothic horror story of quite exceptional quality...macabre, bizarre and...quite impossible to put down (FINANCIAL TIMES) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Iain Banks' momentous first novel, published in 1984 is being reissued with a new cover alongside other classic titles from the Abacus list in our 40th Anniversary year.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grotesque and yet compelling 28 Jun 2001
By R. Weir
Having read some of Banks' SF, and then started reading his fiction as well, I still shied away a little from reading "The Wasp Factory". It says much that the bad reviews as well as the good are included on the sleeve, and while it may sometimes not seem as extreme as you might have been lead to believe that's more through the changes to our society and what is now considered acceptable in a work of fiction.
The story focuses on Frank, a 16 year old living with his father on a small Scottish island, part of possibly the ultimate dysfunctional family - all of whom seem to be to varying degrees insane. As Frank's horrific history is revealed, there's the prospect of an even more horrific future as his brother - lately escaped from a secure hospital - makes his way back for a visit....
Much of what you may have heard about this book is true. There are horrors upon horrors, it goes all out to shock at some points, and is definately not for the squeamish. The fact that it doesn't descend to being yet another trashy horror shocker is entirely due to the quality of the writing and Banks' unique way of hooking his readers so that one simply has to carry on and find out exactly what it is that he has planted the seeds of. There is much (very) dark humour in some of Frank's descriptions of the events he has participated in, and throughout there's the blackly comic undercurrent of Frank's assumption that he is in fact the only sane one in his family - despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Much is said about "the twist" and the brilliance of it, but I found it not nearly as startling as some others seem to have, and in fact it ends in an almost tame way - albeit, as with many a good yarn, with an open-endedness that allows you to think about what may follow.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, depraved brilliance. 24 May 2006
It's a horror story but doesn't rely just on the blood and guts to shock. There's a heavy psychological aspect to this book. What amazed me is that it's Banks' first, and shows the difference between a developing skill and sheer writing ability that makes the rest of us puke with jealousy.

Writing in the first person like we're all told never to do, Banks creates this remote world where the central character, clearly rather unhinged, spends his insular life committing brutalities towards animals. It seems important, and the only thing that isn't met with disdain and suspicion.

His disjointed life in remote Scotland has centred around this and three successful, pointless murders he's acheived.

Banks creats the character excellently and builds their world and their mindset in clear demonstration. Personally I equate deliberate cruelty to animals with perversion, but identified well with Frank despite his actions. Banks makes it a page turner, he brings every expression and event to life, and it's a thoroughly enjoyable tale.

A massive twist at the end, I didn't see it coming, some readers do. The sickness runs right through this book. It seems to me the product of a sick and depraved mind, who also happens to be a genius.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Wasp Factory: Iain Banks 19 Nov 2002
...This is one of the best debut novels I have come across in some years now. It is obsessive, gory, cruel, repellent and gut churningly unsettling. Yet you will also find examples of brilliant dialogue, dark humour, surrealism, and writing of extraordinary clarity and attention to detail. The only thing this book lacks is purpose - the thought that these ideas were simply floating around the authors mind is a worrying one. This book will no doubt encompass some of your worst nightmares and lay them out clearly for you on the page. I strongly advise people with delicate stomachs and people who are easily offended to avoid perusing the pages of this book. You cannot love this book due to the violence and gore it contains. But you will enjoy it, you will be repulsed in parts, you will want to read more, and you will develop an immediate respect for the author. A courageous smack on the nose for literature as we knew it.
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83 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and mysterious 22 July 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I first read this book about 8 years ago and have since read it several times as the brilliance and originality of it make it a rewarding read. That's not to say it's a happy book because it most certainly isn't. The Wasp Factory is a darkly twisted first person narrative of Frank, a profoundly disturbed teenager whose principle sources of entertainment are torturing animals and bumping off unwanted cousins. And we're not just talking about incinerating ants with a magnifying glass or a bread knife in the back, we are talking DIY flamethrowers, bombs, kites, snake venom and The Wasp Factory - a device of psychopathic genius.

I've never read another book like this and to be honest I'm not sure I want to. Frank's simple yet warped logic is brilliantly explained by the author and gives the reader a new way of seeing the world and seeing connections between seemingly unconnected events that were never obvious before until you've taken a trip in Frank's mind.

Banks isn't renowned for subtlety and that charge could be made here but that would be to miss the subtle way the book builds to a climax as Frank's mentally ill brother makes his way home to an explosive endgame after escaping from the secure hospital where he is detained.

The Wasp Factory is darkly comic, truly horrifying and well-paced, but most of all it's expertly written and you'll just want to read more and more. Well, that is if the battle with the rabbits near the beginning doesn't put you off. I'd say read it if you dare but don't say I didn't warn you.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelmed
Considering all the hype about Iain Bank's first novel I was eagerly anticipating this read. However I was underwhelmed and the ending seemed to me to be yet another case of... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Philip N. Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars An introduction to genius
Revisited after nearly 30 years the early brilliance of Banks stands the test of time well. The sometimes spiteful horror tests our sensibilities and makes us question our own... Read more
Published 18 days ago by KIERON CONNOLLY
5.0 out of 5 stars it took me 2 attempts to get into this book ...
it took me 2 attempts to get into this book, but once i had i found it incredibly hard to put down. it made me feel uncomfortable and sometimes a little sick but i couldn't help... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Rachel
5.0 out of 5 stars I thought one door had snicked shut behind me years ago; in fact I was...
The Wasp factory is one of the best works of literature written in modern times. It should be translated into as many languages as possible and sold worldwide, in the hands of... Read more
Published 24 days ago by Vodkabite
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read
Re-read this on the death of Iain Banks . Hasn't lost anything over the years. great price too!
Published 25 days ago by Kenneth A. Gordon
1.0 out of 5 stars boring
a very monotonous boring book. it sets out to shock . it doesn't. it sets out to be unpleasant. and it is unpleasant-in a kind of pointless way. Read more
Published 28 days ago by j cable
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving
It's hard to write a book review quickly, and it's hard to not give away story points so...

All I will say is this is a disturbing and awesome book written by a very... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Charles
4.0 out of 5 stars URGH THIS BOOK IS PERFECT. The main character is chillingly evil
URGH THIS BOOK IS PERFECT. The main character is chillingly evil, but he's just so LIKEABLE. He's a serial killer you root for, y'know? Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lauren James
4.0 out of 5 stars Wow(ish)
It's rather hard to be objective about this book. There is no denying that this is an awesome book but it's very, very uncomfortable to read - I wanted to stop on several occasions... Read more
Published 1 month ago by patrick coyne
5.0 out of 5 stars just extraordinary
I tried to read this 28 years ago & couldn't get past first 5 pages. It's not an easy read but challenges your imagination & sensibilities. Read more
Published 1 month ago by reader Jules
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