Title: The Bees Author: Laline Paull Published: May 6, 2014 by Ecco Format: ARC; Hardcover Pgs 340 Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopia Source: Amazon Vine
I do not know where to begin with this book. Taking place within a literal beehive, all societal issues seem to be addressed - placement within a society, governmental bodies, religion, environmental influences, outside evil forces. Told through the eyes of Flora 717, a large and ugly sanitation worker, the reader follows the story of her life and somewhere along the way, you forget that you are reading about bees and become engrossed with the undertakings of a fiefdom.
By reading the synopsis, this book could go either way. After all, it is about bees, but then again it is so much more. I did not care what true beekeepers would call fact and what the author invented; all I knew was that I was connected with Flora and what she had to do to “accept, obey and serve” her hive and the future of those that depended on her.
Talking through scents, vibration, and touch, the bees communicate the needs of the hive and it is up to the governing body to keep everyone in line. The Sages, the ruling party of the hive, are both enthralled and threatened by Flora. She does not fit the caste that she has been born into. When she proves that she is much more than a typical worker she is moved into other beneficial and demanding jobs. I am not going to say that this is the downfall of the ruling party, but what happens next is both a surprise to Flora and to the single-minded hive.
This book is anthropomorphism at its best. You, as the reader, begin to lose track of the fact that this book takes place within the structure of a beehive. That Flora 717 is a bee and not some dystopian character that Atwood had dreamed up. I was fascinated and fully committed from beginning to end and even thought the premise will not appeal to some, I highly suggest that you reserve you judgement and give the first couple of chapters a try and then make a decision for yourself.