Iain Banks had been rejected by publishers when he presented his science fiction novels. The Wasp Factory was his 'main stream' book, and this one was accepted. What surprises me is that the publishers did not call in social services.
This story in one way seems very mundane as it follows the daily events of a teenager. There are the usual things: eating, carefully shaving, making explosions, getting drunk, making kites.The relevance comes later. But this character goes a bit further. In his matter-of-fact style he explains how he tortures animals and the murder of young children. Without sensationalism or being overly gory, sometimes I had to re-read sections because I wasn't sure what I had just read, as it was so bizarre with a strange logic. Totally unexpected twist at the end, too.
Oh yes, and the actual 'wasp factory' itself. How on Earth did he dream up that concept?
Banks has an easy style, very much the voice of the narrator. I was grabbed from page one, always wondering what would happen next. It is a disturbing and sometimes harrowing story, in places quite horrific, unpredictable, very dark. It is just a uniquely odd story.
In many ways I can understand why Banks decided to go down the science-fiction route, creating strange worlds obviously came easy to him. But I wish that he had written more mainstream books (if that is an appropriate term for someone as gifted as him), as sci-fi generally isn't for me and makes his work a little exclusive.
Iain Banks is one of our most talented writers and his crisp, skilled, original style and imagination make this a really good book.
Books of the Month
Best Selling Psychological Fiction
Reviews by Year of Publication
All 1844 1866 1889 1897 1932 1935 1942 1946 1950 1951 1953 1954 1960 1962 1969 1971 1974 1977 1978 1983 1984 1985 1989 1991 1994 1995 1996 1997 2000 2001 2002 2003 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022