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.