The Bees

  • by Laline Paull
  • Narrated by Orlagh Cassidy
  • 10 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Handmaid's Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut.
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 Flora is not like other bees. Despite her ugliness she has talents that are not typical of her kin. While mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is removed from sanitation duty and is allowed to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting pollen on the wing. She also finds her way into the Queen's inner sanctum, where she discovers secrets both sublime and ominous.
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....
Laline Paull's chilling yet ultimately triumphant novel creates a luminous world both alien and uncannily familiar. Thrilling and imaginative, The Bees is the story of a heroine who, in the face of an increasingly desperate struggle for survival, changes her destiny and her world.

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What the Critics Say

"The Bees is an extraordinary feat of imagination, conjuring the life of a beehive in gripping, passionate and brilliant detail. With every page I turned, I found myself drawn deeper into Flora's plight and her immersive, mesmerizing world." (Madeline Miller, author of The Song of Achilles)
"The Bees" is one wild ride. A sensual, visceral mini-epic about timeless rituals and modern environmental disaster. Paull's heart pounding novel wrenches us into a new world." (Emma Donoghue, author of Room)
"This is a rich, strange book, utterly convincing in its portrayal of the mind-set of a bee and a hive. I finished it feeling I knew exactly how bees think and live. This is what sets us humans apart from other animals, that our imagination can allow us to create a complete, believable world so different from our own." (Tracy Chevalier)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Unusual and beguiling

What made the experience of listening to The Bees the most enjoyable?

The whole concept of the story taking place within a hive hooked me from the beginning. It was very well narrated, although I found the mispronounced (to an English ear) names of some of the flowers a little jarring.


What did you like best about this story?

Its unusual subject matter. I had an interest in bees before listening to this book, and it has increased! I can see the similarities mentioned between this and "Watership Down" and "The Handmaid's Tale", and would add "Perfume" by Patrick Susskind as another echo that I heard.


What about Orlagh Cassidy’s performance did you like?

A warm, feminine tone; ideal for the matriarchal society she was reading about.


Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Neither.


Any additional comments?

Whilst there were some weaker moments (it was never clear how in such a rigidly hierarchical society Flora was able to change roles so successfully), this was a wonderful work. I fear that the author may struggle to follow it up, but hope that she does.

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- Giftgiver

A great read, deserving of prizes.

Any additional comments?

I chose this book because I have always been fascinated by Bees since studying social insect colonies at University. So it was a great surprise and delight to find that an author had set a story in a beehive. The idea was a clever one and the author managed to weave a complicated, attention-grabbing, well-plotted dark tale with great skill and attention to details of the science/biology involved in bee colonies. But the story never read as a science-fiction tale. It was much more subtle than that. Once I started I couldn't put it down.

It reminded me very much of George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' in that it described a society of animals with political/social overtones from today's western world. The story is full of clever observations on how humans are affecting the natural world and the narrator is extremely effective.

This book would make a great read for adults and teens and could be used in schools or in families to discuss social problems and political allegory.

It really deserves wide recognition and prizes.

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- bookylady

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-05-2014
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Limited