This is the review I've just written on amazon which pretty much sums up my thoughts:
I think this is the first review I've ever written about a book where I really don't know what to write. I've recently finished The Wasp Factory having only ever read one of Iain Bank's books before (Consider Phlebas, under his sci-fi moniker), and his debut has left me somewhat stunned. Stunned is a strong word, but yet that's what this book is...strong, and in many ways. I don't know whether I loved it or hated it, but one thing's for sure. It's left an impression.
By turns both dark, disturbing and daring (especially in the context of when it was published), The Wasp Factory tells us the story of Frank, a boy who appears utterly normal but who lives in his own little world with a moral compass that's clearly not on the same magnetic plane as the rest of us. I was horrified by the book, by the matter-of-fact descriptions of murder and animal cruelty, yet compelled at the same time. And therein lies the strength of the novel. Though you'll be disturbed and perhaps even disgusted, you'll want to find out what exactly the Wasp Factory is, you'll want to see what is in Frank's father's study, and you'll want to see how it ends.
The twist caught me completely by surprise and though it added to my sense of confusion (is this just an awful book or a masterpiece, or something in between???), it's somehow fitting. Make no mistake this is a Marmite book, but in my opinion it's worthy of a read even if I'll never revisit it again.