The Handmaid's Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut.
Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen.
But Flora is not like other bees. Despite her ugliness she has talents that are not typical of her kin. While mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is removed from sanitation duty and is allowed to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting pollen on the wing. She also finds her way into the Queen's inner sanctum, where she discovers secrets both sublime and ominous.
But enemies are everywhere, from the fearsome fertility police to the high priestesses who jealously guard the Hive Mind. And when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all her instinct to serve is overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce love that will lead to the unthinkable....
Laline Paull's chilling yet ultimately triumphant novel creates a luminous world both alien and uncannily familiar. Thrilling and imaginative, The Bees is the story of a heroine who, in the face of an increasingly desperate struggle for survival, changes her destiny and her world.
©2014 Laline Paull (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
“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, author of The Song of Achilles)
“The Bees” is one wild ride. A sensual, visceral mini-epic about timeless rituals and modern environmental disaster. Paull's heart pounding novel wrenches us into a new world.” (Emma Donoghue, author of Room)
“This is a rich, strange book, utterly convincing in its portrayal of the mind-set of a bee and a hive. I finished it feeling I knew exactly how bees think and live. This is what sets us humans apart from other animals, that our imagination can allow us to create a complete, believable world so different from our own.” (Tracy Chevalier)
The premise of this book did sound pretty weird, but I have more than a passing interest in bees so thought I'd give it a go. Was sorry that I did. It was like reading teen lit. I had no idea bees were so bloody melodramatic. It didn't engage me at all and I was hanging out for the end.
Wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
"amazing and accurate account of the honey bee!"
An excellent read that's detail has been carefully researched to pull together a story of love, honey, and bees. I think beekeepers will adore this and it's been written so well that non beekeepers will understand and enjoy the journey too! You could not have picked a better suited narrator.
"Not what I expected"
I have wanted to read this book since I first heard about it. Now I've listened to it, I'm not sure what I originally expected, only that this wasn't it. The story of bee sanitation worker, Flora 717, reminded me of a fanatical religious cult run by bullies.
I found the narration grating at times, particularly when the narrator voiced the myriad of particularly unpleasant creatures that Flora encountered. I wonder whether the book would sound different if I had read it myself, if I would have enjoyed it more.
That said, it was engaging enough for me to listen to the whole 10 hours. At about the 6 hour mark it was touch and go, but I persevered to the end and am glad I did. I think this book suffered under the weight of my expectation more than anything else. Well, that, and I'm pretty sure (well, I hope) spiders don't sound like that.
I loved the whole concept of this story, gave me a wonderful child like enjoyment. Very surprised I enjoyed it so much and highly recommended
"The Bees - a buzzing debut novel"
Many critics will describe this book as the bee version of the classic animal novel Watership Down. It's a great compliment. Watership Down is a detailed and fascinating exploration of the life of a warren of rabbits, and The Bees is a similarly detailed and fascinating exploration of the life of a hive of bees. The story is told from the individual perspective of a single bee, Flora 717, as she lives and works in the hive for the wellbeing of the hive and its queen, who is adored with religious fervour and whose love sustains the hive.
Laline Paull's novel is engrossing and interesting, and Orlagh Cassidy's narration suits it well and carries the drama of the story with style and subtlety. She has the richness of voice needed for the queen, the wheedling tones necessary for the dangerous enemies of the colony, and a brave and bold voice for Flora 717 herself, on whom the whole story rests.
This book will have you buzzing with excitement - buy it now!
"Unusual and beguiling"
The whole concept of the story taking place within a hive hooked me from the beginning. It was very well narrated, although I found the mispronounced (to an English ear) names of some of the flowers a little jarring.
Its unusual subject matter. I had an interest in bees before listening to this book, and it has increased! I can see the similarities mentioned between this and "Watership Down" and "The Handmaid's Tale", and would add "Perfume" by Patrick Susskind as another echo that I heard.
A warm, feminine tone; ideal for the matriarchal society she was reading about.
Whilst there were some weaker moments (it was never clear how in such a rigidly hierarchical society Flora was able to change roles so successfully), this was a wonderful work. I fear that the author may struggle to follow it up, but hope that she does.
"A great read, deserving of prizes."
I chose this book because I have always been fascinated by Bees since studying social insect colonies at University. So it was a great surprise and delight to find that an author had set a story in a beehive. The idea was a clever one and the author managed to weave a complicated, attention-grabbing, well-plotted dark tale with great skill and attention to details of the science/biology involved in bee colonies. But the story never read as a science-fiction tale. It was much more subtle than that. Once I started I couldn't put it down.
It reminded me very much of George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' in that it described a society of animals with political/social overtones from today's western world. The story is full of clever observations on how humans are affecting the natural world and the narrator is extremely effective.
This book would make a great read for adults and teens and could be used in schools or in families to discuss social problems and political allegory.
It really deserves wide recognition and prizes.
"FABULOUS ! A Must Read - Listen ❤️"
A fabulous audiobook. I was sad when the story came to its beautiful end. An extraordinary look into the life of our wonderful Bees. The writer has a special way of captivating her readers through her intelligent use of using words and sentences, musical.
This book was an absolute pleasure made even more so by the reading. This narrator is Perfect to read this unusual piece and I will look out to listen to anything else she has read. Her voice is precise, gentle with a natural essence for creating many different character styles which enabled me to create and see each individual character which came alive for me like a film. FABULOUS !
Give this book a go, you will be heavenly surprised and pleased.
"Imaginative and compelling"
Like a cross between 1984 and Watershipdown, but about Bees. I loved this book, great storytelling and a unique view into the world of bees. Narration is great too, a seductive voice dripping with honey.
"Loved this book"
This book is a gem. Totally enjoyed it from start to finish. Flora is wonderful. Will never look at bees in the same way again.
"What was the point!"
There is 12 hours of my life I am never going to get back. What was the point! I would not recommend this at all. Sorry
"I wanted to like it "
the premise of the story was good and interesting but I hated the writers story telling. laboured and drawn out.
Like a cross between Watership Down and Animal Farm but better and different and wonderfully enchanting. Also educational!
I was initially disappointed this story. From reading the description I had been hoping for something a little less conventional that the story I was hearing.
Okay yes the characters are Bees and Wasps, but the story was at first, little different from any number of fantasy stories. That's not to say that it was bad, but it was just that I had been expecting maybe something a little less conventional (something like the Empire of the Ants By Bernard Weber maybe?)
However I did persist and with my initial disappointment out of the way, I did start to enjoy the story and listening to the final few pages did definitely bring a lump to the throat for me (but then I cry at pretty much anything!)
The performance by Orlagh Cassidy, was perfectly acceptable but, and this is entirely my own personal feeling here, I didn't really get on with the sound of her voice.
Still a good story, well worth listening to.
"A richly attuned nature fantasy of a bee hive"
A genius piece of writing, imaginative with magnificent descriptions of the senses, particularly smell which in the English language are rather limited, but expressed seamlessly in an engaging way. Timely too, with the current demise of bees.
Orliagh Cassidy narration was outstanding her identification with the different members of the hive and predators.
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