Set in a suburban hive (yes, a beehive) this is a simple yet captivating story, in the tradition of Duncton Wood and Watership Down. This Shelf Indulgence choice was recommended to me by a biology undergraduate who was so enthralled by the novel that he based his entire final year project on hive behaviour. The Bees follows Flora 717, a humble sanitation worker bee, as she rises through the ranks.
Flora survives human threats and religious purges, evading the machinations of the enigmatic Sage Kin, and braving a terrifying night away from the hive to bring valuable information to her sisters. And when she repels a hive invasion, she is honoured by a summons into the sacred presence of her Queen. But rumours of illegal breeding and murmurings of rebellion disturb the serenity of this once-harmonious community, and when Flora succumbs to a forbidden maternal urge, she embarks on a course that may threaten the very survival of the hive.
One critic drew parallels between The Bees and Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale. I would disagree – if you’re looking for something deep and allegorical, this is probably not the book for you. But it is informative, entertaining – and truly compelling. Enriched by fascinating details of bee hierarchy and the ‘hive mind’, The Bees is an adventure, thriller, and romance rolled up into one rollocking good read.
Buy The Bees by Laline Paull
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