I have a bit of a fascination with bees. I don't know why, I just really love anything bee related, and that's not a rule which stops at books. So obviously, upon discovering a book which was literally titled 'The Bees' I was already sold. I judged a book by it's cover, and on this instance, I'm glad I did.

Laline Paull's 'The Bees' is like no other book I have ever read before. Think The Handmade's Tale mixed with Watership Down (weird, I know), and you'll sort of get an idea of what the book entails. It is set inside a hive of bees, and follows the story of one bee in particular, Flora 717. Flora is a sanitation worker, the lowest rank in the hierarchical society which exists within the hive, however she is bright, brave and very self aware, a rarity amongst bees in the hive. The bees live under the strict rule of the queen, existing to do nothing other than keep the hive alive and "respect, obey and serve".

At first, I wondered how difficult it would be to read an entire book with no human protagonists, only thousands of bees. However, Flora's mind is such a complex and detailed place that I found myself half forgetting that I was reading about insects. The book is very reliant on using scent and touch to get across what it's characters are feeling - two senses which seem to be quite rarely explored in literature. However, somehow I found myself truly feeling everything that Flora felt through the descriptions of theses senses. It's rare that I feel such a connection with a character as I did with this one.

Through the exploration of these senses, the book delves into the world of these bees, bringing magic to it whilst also shedding light on some greater truths. What I found most exceptional about this book, was it's ability to comment on human society through it's many dark undertones.

Forgetting for a second that the novel is all about bees, the entire story seems to make comment on females in general. The female bees of the hive are often kind, yet just as often they are vicious and violent when it comes to protecting themselves and that which they love. I was gripped by the way this book portrayed masculinity and femininity. With the male bees as powerful yet cowardly and gluttonous, and the females as diligent but fiercely underestimated. It's rare for me that a book makes me think about the constructs of society as much as this one did.

The Bees is beautifully written, with a powerful message and a main protagonist who I couldn't help but feel deeply connected with... despite the fact that she's a bee. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone looking for a story which is a little different from your regular read.

1 comment :

  1. This sounds like a cool book! Will need to read this soon!
    Kinga x