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; & 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 & changes Frank utterly.
Compulsively readable. That’s how I first described this book. The narrator’s voice is strong and keeps the reader riveted even when it becomes abundantly clear that there’s no plot in The Wasp Factory. None whatsoever.
That’s why it’s so disappointing that the predictable—not in a bad way—character study falls utterly flat on the finishing line. The reveal and quick resolution are utterly botched and unbelievable. Frank, the real Frank I spent two hundred pages reading about, would not have said what he said on the very last lines.