‘The Quarry’ by Iain Banks shall be a bittersweet book to review, as the author passed on just days before this novel was officially released. This has been a hard review for me to write – another review I would struggle to do justice as my words seem petty. We have lost a brilliant author and the literary world is now slightly lacking without him. Given the subject of the book, it resonates even stronger as it deals with the illness that took Banks himself.
This is a novel of Kit, an eighteen-year-old who has touches of Asperger-like qualities. His father is dying of cancer and his friends are coming back to pay him one last visit though they are also trying to find a tape they made while they were younger, which may ruin lives if it falls into the wrong hands.
Overall this is an engaging novel that has it’s sad moments dispersed with humourous moments, and overall this is a moving book. Kit is a strong main character, and it helps distance from the illness of his father which enables the reader to engage without being drowned in the uselessness of the situation, which, especially compounded by the loss of the author could have otherwise been overwhelming.
The book builds to a climax but then almost fizzes into nothing – a deliberate crafting is my honest opinion, to symbolise the authors’ feeling of his own illness, and the anger, devastation and frustration caused by it.
This is a fast-paced novel for multiple reasons and is often bitter. I found myself needing to take a break every so often so I could digest it, only to then pick it up as soon as I felt ready as I needed to read on, both for the quality of writing and to find out what happens next.
Within this novel there are nods to The Wasp Factory which I highly recommend – it was my introduction to Banks and still my favourite of his works.
As his last novel we are left with something worthy of our time. The author shall be sadly missed.
This review was originally posted at SentientOnline on the 1st March 2014.