The Bees by Laline Paull

The Bees‘Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen. But enemies are everywhere, from the fearsome fertility police to the high priestesses who jealously guard the Hive Mind. And when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all her instinct to serve is overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce love that will lead to the unthinkable . . .’

The Bees is that wonderful sort of novel that made me want to simultaneously read as fast as I could to find out what happened to the characters, but also drink in each sentence slowly and carefully to enjoy the prose and bask in the imagery.

Laline Paull’s beautiful imagery interlaces with fast-paced action, Orwellian intrigue, friendship, love and loss. Flora 717’s extraordinary circumstances force her to navigate her way through the intense social hierarchy of her hive in order to survive. The characters are so vivid and their lives imbued with such vibrancy and sensuality that I felt transported to fields of richly scented wild flowers and the mystical inner workings of Flora’s hive.

To write any more may give away the plot, but I found that, unlike the classic ‘whodunnit’ story, The Bees is such a richly textured and engaging tale that I look forward to reading it again.

-Jenny

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