Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Kick in the Stomach

The Wasp Factory by Iain M. Banks

Summary: 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.

Review: An incredible look into a troubled mind.

I honestly wasn't a huge fan of the book at first nor I did particularly like Frank at first. I never did come to like Frank, but I found myself being torn between hating him and feeling sad for him. Banks does a wonderful job of showing the workings of a troubled, deluded mind. Frank's story slowly unfolds in a way that manages to build upon itself with increasing suspense. Eric and his escapes adds a new level of complexity to Frank and his past. Reading this book was very emotional for me and my stomach was often in knots. It's quite impressive how much of a reaction the book provoked. 

As you learn about what Frank has done still does, you can't help but wonder what would create such a person. Was it upbringing or mental instability (perhaps it runs in the family). The question is always why, but there is not always an answer and that is the hardest part of all. I really wanted to know what the Factory exactly was, how it came about, and why Frank followed it. The ending was unexpected, but I don't feel that provides enough of an explanation as to why. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to fans of serial killers, psychological horror, and anyone who wants to be scared a little. Not for anyone who are disturbed by graphic images and animal abuse.

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