A Girl's Best Friend is Her Octopus (l_o_lostshadows) wrote in bookish,
A Girl's Best Friend is Her Octopus

The Wasp Factory, by Iain Banks

When I heard that Iain Banks had died this morning, I felt the best way to pay him tribute was to reread, and review, his first book.

Rating: 3.5/5
Publisher: Scribner
184 pages
Source: Border's Books and Music

Description: Meet Frank Cauldhame. Just sixteen, and unconventional to say the least:

Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different and more fundamental reasons than I'd disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda, more of 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.
(From the back cover)

Review: This book is told from the point of view of a violent and deeply disturbed individual, and not for the faint of heart.

While I did find the book effective, the violence is somewhat cruder than in Bank's later works and I found that, and spending the whole book inside of Frank's head, somewhat diminished the overall horror of the book.

I also didn't quite buy Frank's going from killing people, to no longer killing people. Its not really something that works as a phase, especially when he still kills animals on a regular basis. His brother's descent into madness, on the other hand, felt fairly well thought out and the interactions between the two lent an air of impeding disaster that never really pays off.

Then there's the twist at the end. While it wasn't something I saw coming, it really doesn't come across as that big a deal, at least in what's left of the story by that point. Maybe if Frank had had more time to come to terms with it, it would have felt more important.

While this is a good introduction to Bank's contemporary fiction, he does a lot of what he's trying to do here better in later works.
Tags: author: b, genre: horror, review

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