The Bees Reviewed | Ok, But Not My Cup of Tea

The Bees by Laline Paull

  • Published May 6th, 2014
  • Tags: Animal PoV, Fiction, Mothers and Daughters, Nature
  • Format: Audiobook (Library Copy)
  • Pages: 340

| Synopsis from the Publisher |

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. Yet Flora has talents that are not typical of her kin. And while mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is reassigned to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting pollen on the wing. Then she finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers secrets both sublime and ominous. Enemies roam everywhere, from the fearsome fertility police to the high priestesses who jealously guard the Hive Mind. But Flora cannot help but break the most sacred law of all, and her instinct to serve is overshadowed by a desire, as overwhelming as it is forbidden…

| Book Review |

– Content –

A unique story with a unique main character -> Until I came across this book I’d never heard of anything being written from an insect’s perspective. The whole story follows Flora 717, a sanitation bee. While you might think – wouldn’t this be a boring perspective? How much do bees actually think for themselves? In all honesty, this book was pretty fascinating. Flora turns out to be a bit of a rogue when it comes to her fellow bees. While there are a lot of characters that really don’t have much personality, Flora has quite a bit, and her story is so interesting! I’ve never read anything like this book, and I found Flora to be an interesting character study.

Hard to keep characters straight -> One of the main drawbacks I had with this story was that there were a lot of bees that had the same name (basically it was what their job was within the hive). While a few of the bees had a distinct character, like Flora, many didn’t and so it was sometimes hard to keep the story straight because I had a hard time matching up what had happened with which bee.

A bit repetitive, but still some interesting plot points -> Maybe it’s because I listened to the audiobook, but I found a lot of the story to be repetitive. There were times where I would stop the book and think, Didn’t I listen to this part already? The plot of the story isn’t complicated, but it’s also very slow moving. While the story takes you through all the different aspects of the hive, the combination of many familiar characters and returning to similar hive locations had me feeling a bit of deja vu.

– Literary Value –

A good story, despite occasionally lulls -> I didn’t know what to expect, but I think that overall, Puall has written a compelling story. While it didn’t always capture my attention, I found it to be interesting, and I wanted to keep reading until the end. Every now and then I felt like the story was getting too slow, but then a new event would happen and it would pick up again.

Good writing! Compelling MC! -> I’ve had a lot of trouble when reading literary fiction, mostly with the writing. I find that a lot of literary fiction feels like it’s trying too hard, trying to be really academic and flowery, but mostly it just feels overwhelming for no reason. I also find that a lot of literary fiction writers tend to write stories about characters that are really unlikable. I don’t know if this is just me, or if people think that morally grey characters are always the most interesting. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Flora is an amazing MC. She’s kind, thoughtful, and selfless. She is motivated by helping others. I really thought Paull’s writing brought her to life. There were many times that I forgot she was just a bee!

– Entertainment Factor –

For those who love animal PoV and don’t mind a character-driven story, this one’s for you -> I did like elements of this book, particularly the fact that it was a story from a bee’s perspective. I spent a lot of time throughout the book marveling at Paull’s storytelling abilities and how she was able to craft such an interesting story while representing realistic views of life in a bee colony. This book was definitely an interesting character study. Flora 717 really intrigued me and I liked seeing her progressive path, from her birth until her death.

This book is definitely a well-written narrative…it just wasn’t totally my thing. I did enjoy elements of it, but as a whole, I wasn’t completely interested in what was going on. I think this was mostly due to the slow nature of the story and that parts of the book seemed repetitive to me.

– Cover Art –

I really like this cover! It’s got a lot going for it – the boldness of the title, the minimal color scheme, and the sheer activity implied by the images of the bees. I particularly like how the one bee is so much bigger than the others, which, having now read the story, I know is supposed to represent Flora 717, who is a larger than normal bee. I think the visual of this cover is definitely one that would attract my attention to this book. It’s simply, yet very effective.

| My Rating |

Ok, But Not My Cup of Tea

While I think this is a well-written book, with a really fascinating main character and a descent plot, it just wasn’t for me. I generally like stories from animal perspectives, and I liked reading a book from a bee’s perspective, since that’s not something I’ve ever come across before. But there were many times during this book where I felt like the story was a bit repetitive, or that I would get lost because I couldn’t keep certain characters straight as many of them had the same name. I also didn’t enjoy the slowness of the story’s development. Otherwise, I had no problems with the writing or the plot.

Would I recommend this book?

Yes, but sparingly. I think this book would probably be attractive to readers who really enjoy animal perspectives or character-driven plots. This book is a deep look at the life of Flora 717, a sanitation bee in her hive. If you don’t mind a slower plot, with a more thought-based narrative, than this book might be your new favorite thing!

Thoughts & Thanks

Thank you so much for reading my review! What do you think of this book? Have you read it? Did I sway you to put it on your TBR? Let’s chat in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

An image of me, now one with the bees after reading this story. Source.

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