The Bees by Laline Paull
ARC received via Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review
The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut set in an ancient culture where only the queen may breed and deformity means death.
Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion.
But Flora is not like other bees.
With circumstances threatening the hive’s survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw but her courage and strength are an asset.
She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect pollen.
She also finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous. (Goodreads)
Flora 717, born to the lowest caste of the hive, is an anomaly. With a large build and considered ugly, she is the only sanitation worker who isn’t mute.
She has several unusual talents that, along with her intellect and curious nature, make her an asset to her hive.
Surprised at how quickly I was drawn into the story, I really liked Flora and became invested in her story. I was proud of her for not meekly accepting her designated role and wanting more, while still supporting the structure of her hive.
I was fascinated by the various roles every bee played in keeping the hive running smoothly, from the lowly sanitation workers to the nursery feeders to the ladies in waiting.
Everyone has their role to play in order to keep the hive running, including the dreaded police bees.
Flora 717 steps outside her role, but only because the hive is in trouble and needs her multiple talents.
The book has been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale, but I honestly didn’t see any similarities. It has been awhile since I read THT, but I know it left quite an impression and made me think.
While I enjoyed The Bees, it didn’t leave the same impression.
This is an odd book in that I’ve never read anything like it.
An enjoyable read with interesting tidbits about bees and their hive, I took it at face value and didn’t try to ferret out any deeper meaning. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes a bee is just a bee.
I enjoyed the story and will leave the deep analysis to others.