"The old orchard stood besieged."
The Handmaid's Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut set in an ancient culture where only the queen may breed and deformity means death.
Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive's survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw but her courage and strength are an asset. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect pollen. She also finds her way into the Queen's inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous.
But when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all—daring to challenge the Queen's fertility—enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, her society—and lead her to unthinkable deeds.
Thrilling, suspenseful and spectacularly imaginative, The Bees gives us a dazzling young heroine and will change forever the way you look at the world outside your window
I really want to tell you how much I loved this book... but I didn't. I wanted to LOVE it, SO much that I purchased the hardcover at my local bookstore (full price). I don't want to say I was duped, because I wasn't, not really. The only thing I feel slighted about is the comparison of this book to Margaret Atwood's work and strangely enough... "The Hunger Games"??? What? Where did that even come in? This book has more in common with an Audubon book than "The Hunger Games". The book really is what it says it is... and I should have looked within myself a little more to see if I REALLY wanted to read a book from the perspective of a bee. I thought it was something I'd devour, but I guess it just didn't tickle that itch?! So without smashing it to bits (because it doesn't warrant that at all), I did score it lower than normal because I stopped reading at page 257 of this 340 page book. I might not have read the end, but I don't think a spectacular ending would have changed my mind on how I felt about the first 250 pages.
The book is a "character" (not much plot) driven story (but even that is pushing it... since the characters are BEES). The book starts with the birth? of a bee in a hive, this will be the Bee that we follow, her name is Flora. Apparently the hive is broken down into castes (lowly workers all the way up to the Queen). Flora is born into one of the lowest castes, the sanitation worker (maid/janitor). She rebels without even knowing she's doing it and ends up with a different job (feeding newborns). We travel with her from job to job, which was one of the things that had me annoyed with the book, the convenient plot jumps that had Flora exploring the entire hive (no bee has ever changed roles UNTIL Flora, and then she does it like a bazillion times!?!? I mean c'mon). I would have loved to have been told about the hive through multiple perspectives instead of a weak plot line that threatens to break with every jump.
So you ask, Amber... what did you like about this book? I loved the writing, I really did. It's not often that I find myself in love with the Author's writing but hate the novel in the end. The world is rich, her words weave through the air to create this beautiful setting, one that makes you hold your breath. It's because of this that the first quarter of the book had me enthralled, I couldn't put the book down. I guess this is why I'm having a hard time rating this book so low but I refuse to give any book I haven't finished three stars, it's absolute insanity to even think about, so two and a half it is.
So my final thoughts about this book is what will really count for you, reader. This book really should have been marketed to gardeners who want a good literature book. I could totally see my two Aunts (both Master Gardeners) loving this book, especially since they like fantasy books. Maybe that's what I'm missing, the lack of passion and understanding to plants and insects? So if you love fantasy and gardening... this might be the perfect book for you. Please don't go into this thinking it will be heavily driven by some crazy plot (Hunger Games?!? I'm still in shock as to why they'd use that in the book description), you'll be just as disappointed as I am. I know this book will be loved by some, the writing is truly there... and I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another book by this Author, because I know she can write. I just won't be picking THIS one up again.
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