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The Wasp Factory

Narrated by: Peter Kenny
Length: 6 hrs and 12 mins
4 out of 5 stars (77 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Wasp Factory is a bizarre, imaginative, disturbing, and darkly comic look into the mind of a child psychopath - one of the most infamous of contemporary Scottish novels. 

"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 or 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 that I was going through."  

Enter - if you can bear it - the extraordinary private world of Frank, just 16, and unconventional, to say the least.

©2007 Hachette Audio (P)2007 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"One of the most brilliant first novels I have come across." (The Telegraph)

"One of the top 100 novels of the century." (The Independent)  

"Brilliant...irresistible...compelling." (New York Times

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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A history of a young psychopath

First of all, this book is about the development of a psychopath. There's violence, sadism and a total lack of empathy. You might feel distressed about it. Personally, I don't have a problem with the underlying subject but caveat emptor and all that.

What I like about the book is the setting and the narration style, both of which are fitting. What I have aproblem with is with the "shallowness" of the writing. I believe it does not develop the characters enough, the story is feeble and flashbacks don't really help. The book reads as characters basically act and react upon "random" events of violence, explained with greater detail than the story itself, and it's difficult to follow a backstory or evolution of the characters.

It's an interesting book if you're interested in the subject and explains how somebody develops that kind of personality disorder, but don't expect an engaging story or psychopaths of the "character quality" of Hannibal Lecter.

I arrived here from Iain's SciFi background, which is incredibly complex, with layers upon layers of interconnected stories, interesting and well developed characters (esp. AIs) and a whole alternate reality to explore. I probably set my own expectations too high based on previous experience but alas, I was disappointed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Disturbing and compelling

The story is compelling and made all the more disturbing by the excellent narration. You will come away unsettled...delightfully so!

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very curious story

Held my attention until the end but finally unsatisfying The last chapter lacked conviction excellent narrator

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Mesmerizing

This is a brilliantly written first-person account of a delusional psycho, expertly narrated by Peter Kenny.
Suited for anyone appreciative of originality.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • GOGS
  • 10-14-08

PERFECT

Excellent narration of a brilliantly constructed story. Listening to some books, I drift off and miss what's been said for the last 5 minutes. This had me hanging on every word. An absolute must read/listen.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kate
  • 12-23-12

Brilliantly read that brings the story to life

This was one of my books I had to read as coursework but I am badly dyslexic so I relied on the audio book to bring it to life. Which it did beautifully. All I can say is that I recommend it and thank you.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-12-19

Fucking mad

If crazy/ disturbing, with a touch of humour is what your after then continue to read. Also prepare to be confused and full of wonder

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • sidneylopsides
  • 01-13-19

Dark but brilliant

This book surprised me in a few ways. I wasn't sure about the premise being my kind of thing but gave it a go as I've enjoyed other Banks stuff. This is dark, told from the mind of a very disturbed young man, and Peter Kenny's performance really enhanced the extreme moments. The story is odd, intriguing and well paced. There are a lot of slow reveals that are satisfying to try figure out as you listen.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jo
  • 01-04-19

Like no other story I've ever heard

Very dark humour, very slick and very clever. I'm not sure 'enjoyed' is the right word, but I certainly couldn't stop listening!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Louis Hall
  • 04-11-18

Brilliant and disturbing

Banks at his best. Very dark, very funny, brutally honest and tart writing. Peter Kenny’s narration does justice to Banks' brilliance.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • graeme
  • 04-09-13

The Wasp Factory

Peter Kenny's soft spoken and convincing narrative draws the listener into the strange world of the teenage Frank who lives on the edge of a small community in Scotland. Frank lives life with a strong sense of rhythm and ritual, which is interrupted by the imminent return of an elder brother.

Frank calmly unfolds the story of an unusual upbringing where things are not at all what they seem.

A macabre delight where the unpleasant happenings are balanced by the charm of the character.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gemma
  • 08-13-12

Dark, funny and perfectly read

One of the best books I have read/listened to in a long time. Frank is a wonderfully developed character, and all the side characters are interesting too. Despite the rather horrific narrative this book is often very funny, and the phone calls between Frank and Eric had me in stitches.

The narration is perfect, I could listen to Peter Kenny's voice all day.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • European Reader
  • 01-23-19

Exceptional

I had never read this novel before and it was a great discovery. Dark, humouring and gripping.
5 stars

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • @Scattered_Laura
  • 04-05-12

Review: "The Wasp Factory" by Iain Banks

Overall, I loved this book. It is a short read (or listen), but it has something about it that demands you only nibble at it and chew on each little mouthful to savour the taste. I can see why it popped up when I asked for recommendations for the boys as I've never read about a character's toilet activities in such detail... is it judgemental for me to chalk that up as something a lad might giggle at? Sorry if it is, but I think Banks made certain aspects of his narrative overtly "male". Frank tries very hard to be seen as a manly man...

I'm not sure my review can do this book justice as I feel reviews shouldn't give too much of the game away. I feel like I could go back to my roots a bit and thoroughly enjoy analysing this book, quotes and bibliography and all! If that isn't praise then I'm not sure what is!

I'm giving this four and a half stars. I'm holding back half a star only because I guessed the ending at almost the very start of the book. Even so, I loved every second.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Grace Less
  • 04-25-16

Out there & compelling

I purchased this book from Audible after having it on my list of books to get one day. It was the second audio book I'd ever listened to & the narrator was pretty great - especially given that this is told from the first person perspective.

Frank is a bit on the crazy side & the story goes through sections of high intensity then long, over described plateaus. I never got bored with it, just sometimes thought there were sections with too many unnecessary words. It did, however, do a good job at portraying an unstable & troubled mind.

I personally felt like the book ended really quickly. It worked, but I feel like I wanted that bit too drag out a bit more.

Definitely an odd & compelling book. Recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-22-19

Not for the faint of heart

Brilliant piece of literature. Funny and grotesque, full of suspense and dark humor. Well worth the time.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-19-16

Great novel poorly delivered

Banks got his psycho thriller poorly read. Dull monotonous voice

Read and enjoy the book, skip the audio

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mariner
  • 08-15-15

Gruesome but well written

Pretty gruesome in places and may disturb animal lovers. But a good story and well written. The narrator seemed a little strange at first but improved as the book went on.