So I finished The Business by Iain Banks last night, proving once and for all that I can read a dry book from cover to cover if I really wanted to. So a dry Iain Banks book, I did not expect that. I was blown away by The Crow Road and The Wasp Factory and this was one book that surprised me in its dryness.
Now what is dry? I don’t mean that it was too dense or academic (it wasn’t), the book simply failed to pull me in or captivate me, and it was work to get through. Dry is also a lack of plot in that it talks too much of the universe (or in this case, The Business) and the settings and the characters like they are mere caricatures in the grand world the author created, without them really doing anything. The plot only picked up at about page 175 and the mystery element that was masterfully presented on the first chapter was sadly underused.
Looking back, I was never really convinced that there was much of a plot to be had. There was too much contemplating that the “plot” became a bit too tenuous to follow, then the last 50 pages struggled to dump all the details together leaving the mystery poorly explained at the end. It felt rushed, with having so much potential in the first few chapters, to having almost no meat. It’s like a lost opportunity rather than a fully formed novel.
It lacks the emotional weight of The Crow Road, and the thrill and mystery of The Wasp Factory. The Business is perhaps Mr. Banks’ weakest book ever.