The Bees Book Review

Author: Laline Paull is a screenwriter/playwright and The Bees is her debut novel and has been shortlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Rating: ****


I’ve been looking forwards to reading this book for a while. A story set entirely from the perspective of a Bee – minus a prologue and epilogue which have left me a little conflicted – fascinated me.

I was a little conflicted by the first 50 pages. There was very little going on that wasn’t difficult to understand without a basic knowledge of bees, or from having seen The Bee Movie. When a sanitation bee – Flora 717 – the lowest form of bee is hatched a Sage – a priestess of the hive – takes her away from her kin in an experiment, as Flora can speak and fly which is rare in her kind.

It is a very complicated and political story so you have to tune in. As always it helped me best when I read the book on a train and I got through 70 odd pages in one sitting, it was a lot easier to understand all that was occurring and how it created a storyline.

There is little to empathise with Flora about, she doesn’t appear to have emotions and there’s religion, royalty and politics to consider. If you’re expecting a Young Adult novel – as I was – you're in for a shock as this is an adult novel. I was greatly surprised by the language used by the male bees, and I’m not talking about ‘bloody hell’, I’m talking about the filthiest you can go.

Nonetheless the story grows and by the end there is a thriller aspect to it which is great, although not entirely oh-my-god-I-can’t-cope thriller-ish. More of an interesting ending.

I loved the hive dynamic and the relationship between Flora and Sir Linden, a male drone. The Queen is also a really fascinating character, even if we don’t see her that much. The story itself is simple in the fact that it is an underdog story of a bee working her way up the hive whilst committing the worst sin possible.

Intriguing, yes.

In conclusion I’m going to quote a review I saw for the book on good reads – it is A Handmaid’s Tale in a beehive. Well worth a read, a little jarring from what you might expect and you definitely have to tune in but when you do it is very enjoyable.

Happy Reading!

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