Iain Banks has a fairly large body of work, especially once you realise his alias, “Iain M. Banks” is what he uses to write science fiction, which is a subgenre he's also hailed as one of the current best. However, this novel is considered more “general fiction”, although this probably wouldn't attract more readers than SF, because this book has received a lot of controversial press, therefore only grabbing the attention of a few twisted individuals, such as myself.
I first heard about this book being overly disturbing, shockingly weird, a sick and deformed work of fiction. I'd ask what it was about, and people would tell me to read it and find out. “You'd have to read it, I can't even explain it” Even if I said I didn't mind spoilers, they couldn't sum it up. They were just being awkward and not accepting the content of the book. It's about a sixteen year old guy who lives in a relatively small town in Scotland. He likes his catapult/slingshot, his homemade bombs, his air rifle. He likes killing things. He's also got his own dark religion, where he likes to perform little sacrifices. People love the anti-religion/spirituality that Banks supposedly is making a mockery out of, and any self-proclaimed intellectual will ask him if this is a study of the history of religion and how it profoundly comments on modern Christianity, and how much of an atheist he is.
They'll ask him if he had a bad childhood, too. A lot of BLACK things happen in the book; some claim it's black humour, some claim it's strictly a disturbing, gothic, twisted work of fiction set in the remoteness of Scottish backwaters where a troubled sixteen year old can perform his occult practices.
I thought the book would only start to get interesting around the halfway mark, but it's entry into the world of this guy starts on the first few pages. The amount of ground covered, the way it'll make weaker-willed readers put it down in shame and disbelief, has been accomplished by huge books, triple it's size. Every page of The Wasp Factory is an honest look into the mind and history of this individual, a psychological painting of what we find interesting simply because it exists within us all. You'll even start to like Frank, the main protagonist. I liked him from page one anyway.