The Bees by Laline Paull

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Accept, Obey and Serve

Laline Paull’s debut novel gives new meaning to the concept of “hive mentality,” with the story of Flora 717 – a lowly worker bee who is desperate to spread her wings and become a forager.  As a sanitation worker, Flora and her kin are doomed to a life of subservience and filth.  Responsible for cleaning and maintaining the hive, sanitation workers are necessary and important, but treated as though they are expendable.

As spring arrives and the Queen’s mating season begins, Flora soon realizes that the hive has dark secrets, and that her sisters may not be trustworthy.  As Flora stumbles upon one shocking truth after another, the state of the hive further weakens and becomes vulnerable to predators, starvation, and collapse.  With the colony desperate for nourishment, Flora is begrudgingly promoted and allowed to forage for food, and even though she proves her strength, cunning, and bravery time and time again, she still does not gain the respect of her sisters.

Flora realizes she must escape the power of the Hive Mind in order to preserve the colony, herself, and her illicit eggs.  After all, “Only The Queen May Breed,” and the penalty for treason is immediate death.  But the hive is powerful – trembling with orders and information transmitted via hormones and scent triggers – and Flora is only a single bee in a colony of thousands.

Written with elegance, grace, and suspense, The Bees is a delectable treat for lovers of general fiction, fantasy, dystopian novels, and mysteries. The book’s structure often feels medieval, with themes of ancient hierarchies, legends, courtship, royalty, monarchs, and princesses.  But Paull’s prose is so precise and eloquent that the novel also feels heavily influenced by philosophy, sociology, and political theory.  Much like the delicacy of her fictional colony, Paull’s writing is a harmony of thematic chords that appear subtle at first, but may soon overpower you with a great resounding buzz – a buzz that all the literary world shall soon hear.

The Bees has been criticized somewhat for a few scientific inaccuracies in regards to bee behavior and colony life, but fiction will be fiction, and the book isn’t intended to be read as a guide to bees.  Instead, it is a highly imaginative, magnetic, and surprisingly humorous tale of a one-of-a-kind literary heroine.  The Bees will be released on 5/6/2014.


The-Bees ★★★★☆
The Bees
By Laline Paull
HarperCollins
2014
Hardcover
352 Pages
ISBN 9780062331151
$25.99

About Karli Cude

Karli Cude, previous moderator of Hooked Bookworm, is an avid reader and former bookseller. She graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.A. in English Literature in 2010 and completed a Master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences in 2013.