The Bees, Laline Paull

The Bees

Flora took pleasure in the delicacy of her approach and studied the ways of the smallest, sweetest blooms she could find, tiny pimpernels and forget-me-nots hiding in the pockets of the fields. The energy of the sun on her body and the joy of foraging filled her soul. She flew the fields and gathered until the light began to fade and she heard the sound of her forager sisters’ wings turning for home. Then she joined them.

On Goodreads, The Bees is described as a Handmaid’s Tale meets the Hunger Games, and that’s immediately what grabbed my attention when I decided to read it. The novel follows Flora 717, a lowly sanitation bee, in a highly stratified world of the hive. Instead of meeting an early death like most sanitation bees, she works her way up the ladder working next in the nursery and later as a pollen collector, narrowly avoiding death and disaster at every turn.

My attention was the most captured in this novel by Paull’s creativity at imagining the culture and community of the honeybee: a cult-like royal court or a royal-court-like cult. The bees of every station are united by their devotion to their queen, constantly reciting a mantra of “Accept, Obey and Serve” or the most divine prayer “Our Mother who art in labour — hallowed be thy womb.” Paull’s writing reminded me a lot of Brave New World, such matter-of-fact prose in such a fantastical world. However, Paull also paints the world of the hive as one of chaos, which sometimes I found to be a little too frenetic. I was going to hold off on using any bee puns for this review, but I can’t resist: at times I thought the novel buzzed through far more dramatic turns than necessary, but, on the other hand, there was not too much droning, which is also a great bee-nefit to any reader looking for a high-paced read.

Books read: 3

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