Sunday, April 27, 2014

Iain Banks' The Wasp Factory

The Wasp Factory by Iain BanksI came to The Wasp Factory  by way of two of Iain Banks' Culture novels, Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games, so I assumed it would have a science fiction angle.  I never expected a novel filled with brutal, violent stories, and narrated by a chilling, cold, rational, and deeply disturbed character.  But as the novel unfolded, I was struck most by how good this novel is despite being unsettling.

The novel is impressive because of the powerful narrative voice. As I read, I kept thinking how strange it was to be drawn to the stories of such an apparently disturbed mind.  The sense of order and control are strong, and Frank, the narrator offers perfectly lucid explanations for what he does or has done in the past.  And yet, all along, there are also moments when I paused and thought about how wrong those explanations, and the events, are.

Somewhere in the middle of the novel, it becomes painfully obvious that the novel will end with some stunning revelation.  I was not able to anticipate the revelation, and was very surprised by the twist the narrative took.

The Wasp Factory is an excellent novel, but one that leaves one wondering whether it's wrong to like it so much.

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