The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

The Wasp Factory

Title: The Wasp Factory

Author: Iain Banks

Publication Date: 1985

Review Score: 8/10

With his mother gone, his brother locked up in a psychiatric hospital and only his eccentric farther for company, Frank has by no means had an ordinary childhood. But then again Frank is by no means an ordinary child.

Although smart, inquisitive and by no means aggressive in his normal day to day manner, Frank is capable of truly dark and terrifying acts. He has already killed his younger brother and 2 other family members, and although he insists that it was just a stage he was going through, his love for guns, explosions and torturing animals is quite disturbing.

But then again, Frank’s brother Eric makes him look like a saint, and he’s just escaped from the psychiatric ward and is on his way back home…

Dark, Disturbed and at times downright disgusting, The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks is by no means for the faint hearted reader. With a strong realism in his writing, Banks is able to draw the reader in and play out these shocking scenes as if they are happening in front of your eyes.

However, what is most bizarre about this book is how he is able to make the reader like empathize with Frank, despite what he is capable off. He is a killer, but he is also lost and alone, something we have all felt at least once in our lives.

By far the most enjoyable thing about this book is Bank’s writing style, which draws you in and is effortless to read. However, if you scare easy or prefer your books a little more light hearted The Wasp Factory probably isn’t for you.

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The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham

Title: The Day of the Triffids

Author: John Wyndham

Publication Date: 1951

Review Score: 8/10

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham is a 1950s Sci-Fi novel in which the human race is brought to its knees and the brink of extension.

In typical end of the world fashion, the story begins with our main protagonist; Bill Masen, waking up blindfolded in hospital and surrounded by complete silence, with no one responding to his calls for help.

After taking off his bandages to find he has not been blinded by his latest sting in the lab, he ironically discovers that everyone else in the hospital has been blinded by a dazzling meteor shower that he, fortunately, was unable to watch the night before.

Outside it’s the same story, it appears the entire population of London and most likely the entire world have been blinded and now droves of people helplessly wander the streets looking for food, water and salvation.

With only a handful of people around the world able to see, civilization has descended into chaos and is now completely vulnerable to the Triffids; large, venomous plants that walk freely and feed on human flesh.

Although this book sounds like a ridiculously lame 2am horror film on channel 5, it is actually incredibly exciting, eerie and rooted in the not so ludicrous idea of biological warfare.

Given that it was written over 60 years ago it may seem a little dated and trivial to anyone who reads modern Sci-Fi novels, but that is exactly what I love about it! You not only get the thrilling story that has so blatantly inspired much of modern sci-fi but you get to enjoy it alongside the fast paced, sharp and witty vernacular of the 1950s.

The characters are classic, brilliantly portrayed and appear to have just stepped off the set of an Alfred Hitchcock film whilst the tale they are thrown into in is futuristic, apocalyptic and worthy of any Sci-Fi nuts appreciation.

All in all, The Day of the Triffids is an absolutely fabulous book that backs up the notion that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or in this case by the ridiculous sounding blurb on the back of it!

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Raymond Chandler – The Big Sleep

Title: The Big Sleep

Author: Raymond Chandler

Publication Date: 1939

Review Score: 7/10

So, here we are, the first book review for our new site “The Book Reviewer” and we’re starting with a classic; The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. This is a fast paced, sharp and gritty tale that is completely absorbing from start to finish!

Set in 1930s LA, the story centres around the clever, cocky and charismatic Philip Marlowe, a Private Eye from California who has a way of talking himself in to trouble and fortunately enough street smarts to get himself back out of it.

Hired by the ageing, crippled, wheelchair bound but exceedingly rich General Sternwood, Marlowe is asked to make a case of blackmail disappear. However, what first appears to be a simple squeeze turns into a fully fledged case of deceit, crime, gambling and murder.

Already having his work cut out for him, with new suspects and corpses turning up around every corner, Marlowe also has to deal with the General’s 2 wild, care free and erratic daughters, who seem to get in more pinches than Marlowe himself.

Fast talking, quick witted and charming as you like, Marlowe is one of the finest characters I have ever come across in a novel and Chandler’s depiction of him and the 1930s underbelly of LA is absolutely stunning.

It is no wonder that The Big Sleep is still entertaining new readers today, the novel was written over 70 years ago but still packs as much punch and excitement as any modern day thriller. I would say this is a must read for any crime fan, thriller nut or just any lover of good literature.

Whether you share my love of The Big Sleep or think it is completely rubbish, why not leave a comment below with your thoughts?

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