A book about bees. Bees, people. It almost made me feel something nice toward these buzzing, stinging little creatures. Almost……..
I started this audiobook a while back, but ended up waiting to listen to it this fall due to a busy schedule. (I was busy as a bee! Ha!) Okay, but seriously, I wanted to read this book the minute it came out, after reading about it on a “HOT” list earlier this year. It was compared to WATERSHIP DOWN, the bees anthropomorphized into a wildly fascinating dystopian world.
Laline Paull is a solid writer. She makes the world of bees into something elegant and proud, and yet fierce and unforgiving. Paull tells the story of Flora 717, an exceptional bee born as a sanitation worker who swiftly breaks the cardinal rules of the hive to delve into a variety of positions within the community of bees. We learn a great deal about the workings of a hive, which is fascinating in so many ways. Somehow, Paull manages to make the various types of bees and their jobs seem regal, sometimes dangerous, and many times, enviable.
We get the feeling early on that Flora 717 is not only special because she can speak, but her eventual sins against the hive will leave you cheering for this little female who wants nothing more than to be her own bee. This is a very female-centric book…as is the nature of a hive…focusing on the rule of the Queen Bee, the nature of birth in a hive, and the struggle for survival in a world where every creature is just a number. Men, beware. Paull depicts each male bee in ways that will make you loathe every single one of them, and not simply because they are bees. We get the feeling that the females only tolerate the males within the hive because they serve a certain purpose, but would turn on them at any opportunity (and do, with very gruesome results).
Is this simply a depiction of some sort of Utopian society gone bad? Or a look at the breakdown of our own world? On the surface, it is a cruel place for most of the inhabitants, restrictive and lacking of any individualism. But a deeper look shows many comparisons to our own world, and the structures we follow in our society. We can only hope Flora 717 is inspiration for those who believe in themselves, and who want to make change.
If you’re looking for a very differenyt type of book, THE BEES is one to pick up. I don’t think I’ll ever look at any bird, bug or furry animal ever again without thinking of the possibilities of their lives.