The Bees

The Bees

by Laline Paull


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The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut set in an ancient culture where only the queen may breed and deformity means death.

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive’s survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw but her courage and strength are an asset. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect pollen. She also finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous.

But when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all—daring to challenge the Queen’s fertility—enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, her society—and lead her to unthinkable deeds.

Thrilling, suspenseful and spectacularly imaginative, The Bees gives us a dazzling young heroine and will change forever the way you look at the world outside your window.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062331175
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/12/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 112,217
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Laline Paull studied English at Oxford, screenwriting in Los Angeles, and theater in London. She lives in England with her husband, photographer Adrian Peacock, and their three children.

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The Bees 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
wackymomma More than 1 year ago
THE BEES by Laline Paull is undoubtedly the most unusual book I have read in at least a decade (or more). The story does for bees and religion, “group think” and society roles what Animal Farm did for barnyard animals and government. THE BEES has transformed this reader. I have a deeper curiosity and respect for an animal that I once looked at with nothing more than revulsion and fear. I’m not saying I’ll be going out and making friends with my neighborhood bees anytime soon, but at least now I can understand their position. But I digress… While I disagree with the comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale and The Hunger Games that THE BEES has been receiving, I can see the reasoning behind these comparisons. Fans of The Hunger Games will recognize the oppression of “the people” and admire Flora 717′s determination. The overall “feel” of the novel (of a young bee’s “coming-of-age” and questioning the structure of her current society) will also be a major draw for YA readers. (With that in mind, this comparison may be a smart marketing decision, overall.) As for The Handmaid’s Tale, I suppose you could find some logic in this when you consider the hierarchical position of the bees in the hive and Flora 717′s struggles in the later half of the book. But when it comes to the overall tone, plus the direction of the story and the manner in which it is told, I cannot help but compare THE BEES to Animal Farm. This book is dark, y’all. This book has a statement to make. As I have already said, THE BEES does for religion what Animal Farm did for government. I see this book as high school or college reading material some day. Or at least, I hope it will be. This is a story whose topics will easily withstand the passage of time and are so important for future generations. For a story that takes place almost entirely within a few square feet of space, there is so much to be said about the inhabitants of that space. Their world is so grand, full of societal rules, an all-encompassing “purpose” and almost (who am I kidding, this is more than “almost”) fanatical religion. The creative lengths the author took in tying the bee’s world into our own are astounding. I wish I could point out every way that she makes her characters sympathetic while making them so very “other” and obviously bees, but that would be a novel unto itself… Flora 717 may be the smallest character I have ever read about, but she is also one of the most fully-realized characters I have ever met, too. From the moment she’s born she’s… different. For her kind, “different” means instant death, but by the grace of a higher level bee, she is saved. Little did she know that her life would play a major part in a ploy for power, that so many difficulties would befall her and that she alone could change the fate her world. She is born as one of the lowest of the low on the hierarchical totem pole, but by both shear luck and her own abilities, Flora 717 moves through various positions in her hive. As a result, the first half of the book is spent associating the reader to the hive and their way of life as Flora 717 is thrust from one role to another. Her position is obviously uncommon for bees, since they are born into and usually die performing the task they were born into. She obtains a wider view of her world and is what we humans would call “enlightened” by what she learns. I enjoyed the tour, and Flora 717 is a most enjoyable guide. The story is rife with matters of chance and fate, faith and predisposed role expectations — I especially appreciate the questions THE BEES asks with regard to morality, religion and leadership. Just because Flora 717 is born “different”, does this automatically make her a sympathetic character? Does the knowledge she gains make her decision “good” or “right” when she tries to override the mindset that has been ingrained in her people since before time itself? Will her every action be met with agreement by the reader? Although Flora 717 is the “hero” of the story, she does make mistakes, she commits crimes against society, she makes highly questionable decisions. Her mistakes, as well as the impact they have on the hive, only adds to the depth of her character, her world and the story. Never does Flora 717 think of herself as “better” than others, never do her intentions become overly-preachy to the reader… I really appreciated this, though, sadly, the fear that this could happen sat in the corner of my mind as I read, and as Flora became more determined in her “purpose”. Ultimately, I loved where both Flora 717 and her hive ended up at the conclusion of THE BEES. It was fitting… and that epilogue was superb! What a touchingly sly little twist! Pros: - Inventive, original, unique… All of these words – and more – will be thrown around when you see or hear people describing THE BEES. The book is 100% deserving of these descriptions. - There is plenty of action and suspense. Correction: There is plenty of terrifying action and suspense. Even with the highly descriptive manner in which the story is told, I doubt that readers will become bored… Cons: - … With that being said. Maybe some readers will grow bored learning more than they ever thought they would ever learn about bees. What do I know, right? - BEES. Come on, guys, we are talking about bees here… Let’s face it. THE BEES will either make you shudder to think of such a small space crawling with thousands of insects – or it will open your eyes to a world you have never known. I will say it again: I have always despised bees. I have always been that girl who will run away screaming if one comes within 20 feet of her person. But my eyes have been opened. Maybe it’s the idea of bees using “brooms and dustpans” to clean up messes (seriously cute visual!), maybe it’s the motherly way they look over their larva in the nursery, maybe it’s the endless thought of dripping honey… but I’m not so afraid anymore, but rather… intrigued. In contrast, I think I now despise and fear wasps 10 million times more than I had previously. Thank you, Laline, for that. THE BEES is destined to become one of my tops reads in 2014. Plot: 10 Characters: 9 Setting: 10 Pacing: 9 Style: 10 Grade: 98
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A different way of life -- but very human in many ways. Always interesting and fast-paced. Who knew that bee society is so complex? Are we humans as regimented but just don't realize it?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was skeptical when I started this book, but I was so quickly enthralled by the story and the writing. Such an original idea and so well written!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The very unusual setting makes this book very original. Yet not everything is foreign as the author artfully writes about a main character who changes as she learns more about herself and her world . I definitely recommend giving this book a read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This one took me a while to get through. Although it looked promising, at times it just dragged on. I was considering stopping because I couldn't really get into the story, but I finished it for the sake of finishing what I started to see if it would get better. I will give this one credit however, because never before have I seen an author tell a story through the eyes of a bee. So it is unique in that sense. Would I recommend this? Yes and no. Would I read it again? Probably not.
orchidgarden More than 1 year ago
I loved this book & read it twice since it is so thought provoking. I will never look at bees the same way again. It prompted me into finding out more about bees & the health benefits of honey & Royal Jelly.
Anonymous 3 months ago
you and I and all of us humans could learn a lot from the bees they work only for the good of the hive
Anonymous 4 months ago
After years of reading mysteries and psychological thrillers I took a chance on a different type of book that sounded intriguing and discovered the most captivating and original work I've read in years. The Bees was beautiful, exciting and heartbreaking. If the daily grind of life hadn't interfered I would have read cover to cover without stopping. What an impressive accomplishment by the author! She conceived a truly unique protagonist, Flora, a bee of lowly status in the hive, and followed her life of adventure, perils, success and love. I always admire the work of an author who can successfully keep the details of a complex tale logical and bring realism to a subject.
Anonymous 10 months ago
This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I love all the characters and everything about it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nature lovers will enjoy how passionate it makes you feel!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Make you think differently of bees
EmmabBooks More than 1 year ago
Action packed life of bees A novel about life in a beehive, as seen through the eyes of a bee. This is a great story and a fascinating, and action packed, insight into the world of bees. Though having no more than a passing interest in bees, this novel caught my eye. The main "character" in the book is Flora 717, who is born as a lowly sanitation worker bee. Through Flora 717 the reader is taken into every aspect of bee life, including the hierarchy, the absolute adherence to the rules of the hive and of course the role of the Queen. Threats to the hive and its occupants are graphically drawn, including human threats, as is the joy of finding pollen and nectar full flowers, and what happens when the bees take it back to the hive. It took me ages to finish this book, as I kept stopping to check out the action (of which there is a great deal) on the internet. Everything I checked was based on fact! Obviously the author has used her imagination to depict Flora 717's thoughts and life, but by her clever interweaving of facts about bees and her storytelling this book is both gripping and informative. Wow, I recommend this book to everyone who has ever watched a bee gather pollen, and wants to learn, via a novel rather than a non-fiction source, more about what happens next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Flora 717, a low-echelon worker bee, rises to serve and then to save her hive from illness, invasion and intrigue. This is a satisfying story about a most unusual heroine who will quickly make herself welcome in the reader's imagination!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully unique and inventive. A look into hive society told from the perspective of a bee, this translates across society. So rare to read a completely new novel.
bbb57 More than 1 year ago
To say this book is different from ANYTHING I have ever read would be an understatement. It is original, fresh, fast paced, exciting, and a whole host of other positive adjectives. I loved it. I hope there is another in the series, I would purchase it on the spot!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
By personifying a colony of honeybees and telling the tale from one worker bee's point of view, the author manages to educate us and give us a fascinating glimpse into all things bees. After reading this, I look at our landscape in a completely new light, and it's not necessarily good.
bhoregonbarb More than 1 year ago
I had a good time reading this book. The heroine showed her courage and strength from her'birth' through every page. I could forget whether I was in a hive or a city with ease. The author's use of language eased me through a delightful read. I would love to give you the detailed check list but I don't see it so suffice it to say I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I will never, ever look at a bee the same way again!
AudiobookReviewer More than 1 year ago
The Bees by Laline Paull is a superbly imaginative story of one particular bee, Flora 717, and the world encompassed in and about one particular orchard bee hive. Setting this story in the simple, yet complex world of bees, Ms Paull creates a very understandable, recognizable portrait of life in a hive, of a thousand bees working in harmony for the benefit of the Queen Bee, of an inhospitable outer world casting dangers to the hive, including smoke from fire, threats from wasps, spiders and crows, and the impact of seasons on nectar gathering. Likened to The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, Watership Down, Animal Farm, 1984, The Rats of NIMH and more, this book encompasses so many genres! While many reviewers are quick to draw similarities to these books and just as many other reviews are quick to discount the said similarities, I’d suggest you wait to make draw your own conclusions. For myself, there is no need to compare this book to another because without reference to another book, this story stands strong on its own merits. This creative Regency thought- and speech-tinged, sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian novel begins as Flora 717 emerges from her birth chamber. Born of the Flora caste, the sanitation caste, Flora 717 is larger than those typical in her caste and has the capacity for speech, not typical of her caste, her kin. These “deformities” require the police to administer the “kindness” (removal by death) to Flora 717. It is Flora 717’s good fortune that she is save by the curiosity-driven help and encouragement of Sister Sage, of the priestess caste. And, so begins a life in which Flora 717 will demonstrate her courage and resolve to save her hive time and again. It is her determination to do right by the hive, her curiosity and her ability to think that leads Flora 717 into situations requiring “the kindness” to be imposed on her time and again, but good fortune or good luck allows her yet another day, another day to live and another day to reach outside of her caste. The Bees is a fantastic blend of nature and fantasy. I found myself thoroughly enamored with the anthropomorphism coupled with the natural science of a bee’s hive; the intelligence and sophisticated organization that is a true wonder of the natural world. It is this anthropomorphism that will draw fans of Richard Adam’s Watership Down and of Robert O’Brien’s Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. The Hive Mind and the All For One (in this case, the “One” being the Queen Bee) and One For All unity of the hive is what may draw fans of dystopian novels in which the underdog (of a society run entirely by women, no less) rises above the “government” to become more than she should have. The dialogue shouts Regency-era, and yet hive mantra regurgitation shouts Animal Farm. The “Deformity Means Death” mindset touts the idealistic benefits of eugenics; all the while the caste system emphasizes the performance perfections of design for function and function for design. As the characters are bees, not “young adults”, this may not be technically be classified as a YA books, but there is nothing in the plot that should concern parents if their teen children express an interest in reading this novel. There is so much in these 330-plus pages to appeal to many readers, including book clubbers who love to dissect a book, to “take sides” and “argue”. As my review is in response to listening to the audio book version of the story, I cannot comment on the text version and its state of edit. The audio book is a 10 1/4 hour listen, narrated by Orlagh Cassidy with a very clean, clear production quality. This was my first listen by Ms Cassidy, even as she has many narration performances to her credit from many different genres, and including a dozen performances of David Baldacci novels. Ms Cassidy did an outstanding job with this performance — making her voice distinctive with each caste of characters, including the humorously slothful drones, the meek sanitation workers, the proud, arrogant Sage Caste, the dutiful nursery caste and more. Audiobook purchased for review by ABR. Please find this complete review and many others at audiobookreviewer dot com [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]
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