The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

I. Don’t. Get it.

I don’t get it! I’m reminded of trying to read The Loney – an award winning book… but I don’t get the point of that one, either!

The Wasp Factory is much acclaimed. It’s well known, and widely considered to be well written. According to the cover, it belongs to the gothic horror genre.

like good writing. I like gothic horror – Frankenstein and Dracula, for example, or Wuthering Heights, all of which I really enjoy and have read multiple times each. But I just did not get this! The Wasp Factory tells the story of Frank, from his own point of view. It turns out Frank is a bit of a psychopath, having killed three children before the age of ten, and there’s definitely something unsettling about his home life on a remote Scottish island. The title refers to the most important of a number of quasi-religious rituals that Frank follows for various reasons and in various ways; again, a key component of a good horror. There’s a pretty big twist at the end, and all the characters are grotesques.

Ultimately, though, I just didn’t connect with the story. When I say I don’t get it, I mean – I understand what happened and why, it’s not that cryptic – I just don’t get the point of it. Again, like The Loney, I wasn’t scared in the same way I am watching a scary movie (I’m looking at you, Fatal Attraction), so it wasn’t about that. Having got to the end, I failed to grasp why Banks wrote the twist? Either I’m not clever enough to get the commentary on social constructs of childhood and masculinity or… there wasn’t one.

Have you read this? Please do comment, please let me know what you thought. I can’t help but feel I’m missing something here! What’s it about? What have I missed?

Either way, I probably won’t be volunteering for a re-read.

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