#BuddyReadsToDieFor – The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

Time for the reviews for our January 2022 selection!

THE WASP FACTORY – Iain Banks (Originally Released February 16th, 1984)

Here’s the synopsis:

Frank, no ordinary sixteen-year-old, lives with his father outside a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank’s mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric’s escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother’s inevitable return – an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly.

The Wasp Factory is a work of horrifying compulsion: horrifying, because it enters a mind whose realities are not our own, whose values of life and death are alien to our society; compulsive, because the humour and compassion of that mind reach out to us all. A novel of extraordinary originality, imagination and comic ferocity.

Chandra’s Thoughts: 2/5 stars

Well….. meh. Dammit.

Ok, so hear me out. Maybe reading extreme horror has weakened and/or strengthened my mind (depending on how you see it) to any torture porn-esque fuel. Yes, I realize torture porn is a bit excessive of a term for the going ons within these pages but whatever. For some reason, nothing really bothered me within these pages. Cool, you like to kill. You say you’re never gonna do it again. Twas just a phase. Sure… uh huh.. okay… it’s like me putting myself on a book ban – you damn well know I’m going to buy (probably) more books than on normal terms. BUT in this weird way, I totally felt for Frank. Despite being a psychopath and just plain off in so many ways… the author made him relatable. **shrug** Maybe it’s just horror-me!

Had I perhaps read this back when it was first published in the 80s, the ending would’ve been much more of a shocker. Instead, I’m left perfectly meh about the whole situation. Definitely wasn’t expecting that though – my mind had already created a zillion other scenarios. All this did was remind me of a particular movie that I can’t name for fear of spoilage. My favorite, favorite scene was the kite scene. Y’ALL! That one is a rib sticker and I hope someone puts this on screen one day.

I know I’m in the minority with this one. Maybe my mood is off. At times it felt a bit like horror comedy. All this word salad I’m making is trying to say is that it just didn’t quite work for me. Meep.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars

So I’ve had this on my TBR for awhile and was very excited to have this be our #BuddyReadsToDieFor choice (always the best excuse to read these older books). I went into this not knowing a whole lot about the book and I’ll say right away, this will not be for everyone. There’s plenty of violence and gore (against people and animals alike) used to help illustrate the true nature of our main character. Who could have guessed you could feel for or relate to this kind of killer?

I’m really still trying to get all my thoughts straight on this book. There are some scenes that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon and that ending. I wasn’t expecting that at all. Like of all the possible scenarios I could have come up with, that wasn’t one of them. I love when a book can do that and I think that’s why the higher rating is deserved here. Here’s to more books that make you go “what the f did I just read?”

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