Book Review: The Bees by Laline Paul

The BeesThe Bees by Laline Paull
Publisher: Ecco
Release Date: May 6, 2014
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

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.

But when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all—daring to challenge the Queen’s fertility—enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, her society—and lead her to unthinkable deeds.

Do you have reader friends who give you book recommendations that just up your alley? One of my go-to friends for book recommendations is Kelly. I love 99.9% of the books she has recommended to me. One of those books is The Bees. The Bees is about a bee colony that is totally devoted to their queen. In fact, that’s their motto, “Accept, Obey and Serve.” If there is any strife in the hive, the queen releases her Queen’s Love scent and everyone calms down, prostrating and chanting, “Accept, Obey and Serve.”

The bees are divided into castes called kin groups with each group having a different job in the hive. Flora 717 is born into the flora kin, which is sanitation, the lowest of the low. However, she is different from the rest of her kin. She is bigger and has the power of speech while the rest of her kin are speechless. When she is first hatched and the other bees notice that she is unusual, I thought, “Oh great, it’s Divergent in bee form.” But thankfully it soon becomes clear that it’s not.

Flora’s purpose is a mystery right up until the very end. Why was she born into the flora kin when she doesn’t fit in? Why can she do things that only the Queen is supposed to do? The Bees has a dark and Orwellian atmosphere that I found captivating. Since The Bees is so good I’m surprised I haven’t heard any buzz about it. (Get it? Buzz!) Anyway, thanks Kelly!

  • bermudaonion(Kathy)

    I was intrigued by the premise but hesitated to get the book since it’s told from the point of view of a bee. It sounds like I made a mistake in not getting it!