To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyzes reviews to verify trustworthiness.
Review this product
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
5.0 out of 5 starsFascinating Look at Another Way Humanity Could Go
Reviewed in the United States on September 12, 2019
Yet again Herbert’s masterful writing grabs hold and won’t let go until the whole story is told. His grasp of human interactions on both the micro and macro levels is amazing. This book more than hints at a Deep State long before we realized it exists in our governments. That is a bit shocking.
5.0 out of 5 starsDespite 40 years, still surprisingly relevant and provocative
Reviewed in the United States on May 11, 2012
This first thing to know, if you read this book, is that it is helpful--though not necessary--to first watch the film The Hellstrom Chronicle. This is an Oscar winning documentary film made in 1971 about insects, but it borrows the trappings of a horror movie. The film proposes that eventually insects will replace humans as the dominant form of life on earth. It is narrated by fictional entomologist, Dr. Nils Hellstrom (portrayed by actor Lawrence Pressman.)
After the success of the film, Frank Herbert appropriated the character of Nils Hellstrom and constructed an elaborate back-story that forms the basis of the book. Hellstrom is shown not only to be a documentary film-maker, but also the leader of a secret community of humans that have chosen to pattern their society after social insects. They do this believing their choice will eventually be the salvation of the human race, and that the "wild outsider" human society will eventually self destruct. For centuries the Hive has existed in secret, waiting for they day it will inherit the earth.
The plot revolves around a secret government agency that discovers evidence linking Hellstrom to a powerful weapon. Attempting to learn more, the agency sends spies to Hellstrom's farm, ignorant of the human hive that it conceals. Eventually the two groups come into conflict.
In my opinion, this is Herbert's best work outside his Dune novels. He does several interesting things with the story. The Hive can be viewed as a surrogate for any insular group that rejects conventional society. It has various characteristics of a separatist religious group (the Amish for instance, though there is certainly no other similarity between the Amish and the Hive), of a "free love" hippie commune (more popular in 1972 than today), or of a communist "nest" that aroused paranoia in the 1950's. Indeed, the use of genetic and chemical manipulation by the Hive is somewhat akin to the old communist desire to create a "new socialist man." This comparison doesn't hold as much power today with the Cold War far behind us, but with the new paranoia surrounding the possibility of "radical terrorists" living among us, it is telling how the paranoia continues by finding new targets to focus on. And so--far from becoming dated--Hellstrom's Hive is proving to have a timeless relevance.
Another clever thing is the way Herbert sets the Hive in contrast to the Agency. While the Hive has many disgusting and repulsive practices, so too does the Agency--even though it is supposed to represent "the good guys," and "normal humanity." While the Hive is inhuman in many ways, its extreme choices are shown to have a foundation of compassion and concern for its collective members. The Hive is ultimately working toward human survival, even though its means may be disgusting. Meanwhile, the Agency is occupied by ruthless bureaucrats that forcibly draft people into its service and is no better than a mafia dedicated to extortion and thievery. It sacrifices its own members--not to achieve a collective good--but to serve selfish and secret agendas of those higher in the chain of command. The Hive's morality may be starkly alien, but it has a morality, as opposed to the amoral Agency. The result is that you end up rooting for the Hive, despite all its repulsive practices.
4.0 out of 5 starsFrank Herbert knows how to world build
Reviewed in the United States on May 30, 2019
As the title states, Herbert really has a knack for creating rich and believable societies. The one in this book is rather alien to us but still feels alive and very well defined. The book is a mix of cloak and dagger action and political intrigue. It was written when it was so some aspects have not aged so well, but overall an engaging read.
This was one of the books I remember getting from a book club years ago. I really couldn't even remember what it was about. Just that I really liked it. After all these years I finally found it again and bought one for my brother, too.
4.0 out of 5 starsStill a great read, and keeps the tension up!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 9, 2013
When I turned the last page on Hellstrom's hive I was just wishing that a sequel had been written. There's a lot of really enjoyable aspects to this book, and the combination of all of them is what made it a really solid sci-fi/futuristic story.
Even though its very much a novel of its time, from the point of view of technology, Herbert's novel has aged quite well considering that it pre-dated the mass computer market, and while mobile phones are understandably absent, the references to radio links etc are comparable in terms of plot progression. Also, the technology of the hive is still advanced and novel by our standards - as well quite alien in many respects!
The other aspect that makes this a great read is the pacing of the story, and the interaction between the agency and the hive leadership. Firstly, the interaction is intelligent. A real battle of wits unfolds between both sides, and is carried well by the characters involved, who are also well differentiated.
Finally, and definitely the intriguing element which spurred me on to purchase this book, was the fascinating description of a human/insect society, complete all the way down to a caste system. Herbert shows as well as tells, and Janverts run through the hive towards the end of the story leads to one nightmarish revelation after another. While some scenes would perhaps be more shocking if they had not been alluded to beforehand, the real climax comes from the plot itself, and you are never quite sure how the story will end.
4.0 out of 5 starsReally different from Dune but well worth a read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 15, 2016
Quite different from his world famous "Dune" fare. In many respects its grittier and harsher, but its also more balanced. In Dune the author had over the top baddies facing flawed but ultimately noble goodies. In this we have human authority versus a "hive" human system. Its well written, albeit a little dated, and pulls no punches. It gets 4 rather than 5 stars because it is quite short and I felt that at stages it read a little rushed - many passages could have been expanded more fully realised.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 22, 2014
The next step for human evolution - a hive culture with sterile workers, breeding queens and specially-bred scientists with massive brains! Frank Herbert's "Hellstrom's Hive" is as original as his better known "Dune" and as well thought out. The book concerns the tensions between the normal "wild" humans such as you and me, and the new world order. You'll have to read to the end to see who comes out on top!
I just loved this book. It is essentially about a hive containing humans not insects and the powers that be trying to find out about the hive. The plot is not overly complicated and the characters are really strong. It is the kind of book that you cannot put down. The ending maybe a bit of an anticlimax for sum but hey I was not disappointed.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 20, 2019
I gave it four stars because it ended so abruptly. Maybe that was the point. Generally it was ok, although like a lot of books from the same decade, the language is now so out moded that it's sometimes distracting from the flow of the story.