By Laline Paul.
One young female, Flora, dares to challenge the order of the society in which she lives, a totalitarian, caste ridden decaying matriarchal society in in which the apparent ruler is little more than a puppet figurehead, for a coterie of ruling elite priestesses. The society is kept in order by the ‘state police’ and kept subdued by the euphemistic ‘Queens Love”
At first Flora’s challenge is unwitting but as her stature grows in her society, she learns of its secrets, hidden from the lower casts. Her challenge morphs from unwitting to a deliberate rebellion to authority, though her instinct still keeps best interests of her society at heart.
Tales like this have been penned before and will be again, and they have happened but this is not a tale of human society, though it could be. Laline Paull’s heroine is Flora 717, a sanitation worker bee born into the lowest caste in her hive. From birth she, as are all the bees, is indoctrinated to Accept, Obey, Serve her hive.
Paull’s story takes us deep inside the bee hive, and deep into the hive-mind. When the hive has a “visitation” from its Bee Keeper, you almost seem to be peering through the drifting smoke as he removes combs of honey.
The Bees is both a thought provoking story and It is also a compelling allegory of aspects of human behaviour when a ruling elite tries to protect its own position at the expense of the common good.
As I worked my way through the book, I found myself caring about some of the insect characters more than some human characters in other stories.
I found The Bees an enthralling read, that held my attention page after page. Laline Paull’s story will appeal to people who liked tales such as Watership Down and The Duncton Chronicals. It should appeal to anyone who enjoys a good thriller and thought provoking tale.