February Book Club: The Bees by Laline Paull | #SOBookClub

Not that I need more motivation to read, but I recently joined a blogger book club organized by Sarah, of SarahOhm.com. Each month, our little group tackles a different theme, then we all blog our thoughts about our chosen book at the end of the month.

February's theme was "love" of course, and once again, I was stumped as to what to read. A love story? Bleh! I don't read romance and if you dare mention anything starting with T and involving vampires, I will seriously want to barf on you. Luckily, I realized that a book I was reading at the time fit the bill, albeit in a different way than you would initially think.

The Bees by Laline Paull has been a book I've had my eye on for awhile. It follows the story of Flora 717, a sanitation worker bee, lowest of the low, who is born with an extraordinary "deformity" - unlike all others of her caste, she can speak, As soon as she emerges from the sticky confines of her birthing cell, she is marked for death for her abnormality, but is thankfully saved at the last minute by a beautiful sister from the Sage caste, the highest tier of the hive and the priestesses who maintain order. From that chance encounter, Flora's life sets off on a journey that sees her travel through the ranks of the hive: from nursing young in the birthing chambers, to flying off for precious nectar with the foraging parties, to parlaying with deadly spiders and wasps, and even to the inner sanctum of the queen mother herself. Though Flora is celebrated for her courage and uniqueness, it is also these characteristics that cause her to be under the constant eye of the Sage priestesses and their terrifying dark enforcers.

A fascinating read, I found myself unable to put this story down. Paull immerses the reader into her world as she deftly interweaves scientific facts with fantasy. As other reviewers have noted, if you're fan of dystopian fiction like The Handmaid's Tale, then you'll be into this book. The hive is the epitome of a totalitarian communal society with rigid hierarchies and a deathly aversion to distinctiveness. All is for the hive and bees are sacrificed on the daily at the so-called benevolent whims of the ruling class.

For her part, Flora begins life utterly dedicated to the well-being and lives of her sisters, but she slowly begins to see the corruption that hides within its upper echelons. As well, there is an unknown horror lurking unbeknownst to the hive and only Flora realizes how close it lives. When she inadvertently commits the greatest sin her kind can commit, she is galvanized to do things she never would have dreamed of and she learns the true lengths she would go to in the name of love.

The Bees is a story about society, religion and ultimately, the rights of the individual versus the majority, but it is also a story about mothers and daughters. Would you sacrifice the good of all for the love of one? What if that meant destroying everything you know and cherish? A strong debut novel, I can't wait to see what Paull comes up with next.

You can purchase your own copy of The Bees on Amazon.

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And don't forget to join me for next month's theme: biography!

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