The Bees by Laline Paull
I recently had laser eye surgery and I downloaded the Serial Podcast to listen to during recovery. Well, I found it so gripping I finished it before my surgery even took place! I then treated myself to an audiobook and decided on The Bees. It’s been on my radar for a while.
Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. But Flora is not like other bees. Despite her ugliness she has talents that are not typical of her kin and she begins to move through the various echelons of the hive.
First Impressions: Unfortunately I kept falling asleep after listening to a couple of minutes of this audiobook. I don’t know if it was the narrator, the story, recovering from a procedure or a combination of all three.
Highlights: The writing style is poetic with rather sensual descriptions of the bees’ scent and vibrations. I sometimes had to remind myself I wasn’t listening to a story about a cult where everyone knows each other’s business to a very personal degree. There was a lot of religious rapture.
If I was an editor: I would hope more people read the physical book rather than listen to the audiobook. The story is full of description and I must admit that the repetitive prayers to the Queen began to bore me. If I was reading it I probably would have enjoyed it more as I would have skim read parts of it to get to the action. Unfortunately I found the action was often lost within description and I would get to the end of a chapter and realise I had completely missed a vital plot point (eg. the ‘dramatic scene’ with the drones, if you believe it) as I had started daydreaming. I did consider giving up at but a biological feat achieved by Flora at one point piqued my interest and I decided to keep listening.
Overall: A bit too lacklustre for me but probably the right ingredients to win the Bailey’s Prize.
The Bees: 2 Stars