Born into the lowest class of an ancient hierarchical society, Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, an Untouchable, whose labour is at her ancient orchard hive’s command. As part of the collective, she is taught to accept, obey and serve. Altruism is the highest virtue, and worship of her beloved Queen, the only religion. Her society is governed by the priestess class, questions are forbidden and all thoughts belong to the Hive Mind.
But Flora is not like other bees. Her curiosity is a dangerous flaw, especially once she is exposed to the mysteries of the Queen’s Library. But her courage and strength are assets, and Flora finds herself promoted up the social echelons. From sanitation to feeding the newborns in the royal nursery to becoming an elite forager, Flora revels in service to her hive.
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 who are jealously wed to power. Her deepest instinct to serve and sacrifice is now overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart and her society, and lead her to commit unthinkable deeds…
©2014 Laline Paull (P)2014 HarperCollins Canada
“The Bees is an extraordinary feat of imagination, conjuring the life of a beehive in gripping, passionate and brilliant detail. With every page I turned, I found myself drawn deeper into Flora’s plight and her immersive, mesmerizing world.” (Madeline Miller, Bestselling author of The Song of Achilles)
I liked the concept / idea the most. I liked everything else the least.
Have a different narrator.
Most bee voice characterizations were snobby or holier-than-thou. The regular narration was that way, too.
The book could have been better story-wise if there were more sub-plots or smarter reveals. The story was far too linear for my liking. The descriptions were rather plain, too -- I expected more of my imagination to be stimulated with visual ideas, for example. There was much text around smells and chemicals -- but these, too, were too narrow to let my imagination play.
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