Rating: 3 stars
I enjoyed Laline Paull’s The Bees. It isn’t the book I was thinking it would be. For some reason I thought it was going to be an imaginary future where the bees have taken over. Instead, it’s an imagining of how bee society works and what might happen if a lowly worker bee rose up to challenge the totalitarian regime.
I’d describe it as an apian Watership Down mixed with elements of 1984, Shakespeare and The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s certainly a ripping yarn. It went on slightly too long for me and had an overblown ending that made me think of Alien vs Predator. I appreciated the research that had gone into understanding bee society and biology. For the most part I didn’t mind the anthropomorphising of the bees, but occasionally I found it cheesy. There are exciting moments as the heroine of the tale goes against the rules of her society and becomes a freedom fighter in the face of totalitarian rule, but around three quarters of the way through, I began to feel a little bored and wanted it to end. While I’m certain that the final showdown is based on fact, the anthropomorphising made it slightly ridiculous, and the epilogue was far too twee for my taste.