Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2015.
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2015.
An excellent book unlike any other. The life of bees is examined and fictionalised as never before. These bees are not anthropomorphised or overly sentimentalised into cute cartoon characters; the action and communication is kept as realistic as possible whilst still providing a novel with depth of emotion and excellent characterisation. Propelled by a set of strange coincidences and lucky accidents of time and place, the lowly worker bee, Flora, works her way through the whole hive; the nursery, the morgue, even the Queen’s chamber; and learns a few more secrets than she should. Her story is incredible, fast, gripping, delightfully easy to read and full of great ideas. This book is great for the teen market but really anyone could enjoy it and indeed should, for it is quite something.
January 2015 Debut of the Month.
One of our Books of the Year 2014.
Enter a whole new world, in this thrilling debut novel set entirely within a beehive. Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen. But Flora is not like other bees. Despite her ugliness she has talents that are not typical of her kin. While mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is removed from sanitation duty and is allowed to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting pollen on the wing. She also finds her way into the Queen's inner sanctum, where she discovers secrets both sublime and ominous. But enemies are everywhere, from the fearsome fertility police to the high priestesses who jealously guard the Hive Mind. And when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all her instinct to serve is overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce maternal love that will lead to the unthinkable ...Laline Paull's chilling yet ultimately triumphant novel creates a luminous world both alien and uncannily familiar. Thrilling and imaginative, 'The Bees' is the story of a heroine who, in the face of an increasingly desperate struggle for survival, changes her destiny and her world.
In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.
Set entirely in a beehive, the story focuses on Flora 717, an ugly and despised sanitation bee whose task is to keep the place clean. But Flora has a conscience, an iron will, and an element to her that transcends the mere instinct to serve. By perseverance she rises through the hive hierarchy and gets close to the Queen, only to arouse the enmity of guardian bees who regard their positions as sacred. This is an unusual debut novel, full of allegory, while being strong on characterisation and providing details of the everyday lives of bees – insects about which most of us know little.
'[A] gripping Cinderella/Arthurian tale with lush Keatsian adjectives'
Margaret Atwood, via Twitter
'Beautifully written and unusual ... Captivating ... A brave and original story that highlights our modern environmental crimes, and offers a fascinating glimpse into the intricacies of bee world ... Any book that changes the way we see our world surely deserves to be a success'
Lucy Atkins, Sunday Times
'Ambitious and bold ... told with such rapturously attentive imagination ... The tale zooms along with such propulsive and addictive prose ... Few novels create such a singular reading experience. The buzz you will hear surrounding this book and its astonishing author is utterly deserved'
New York Times
'One wild ride. A sensual, visceral mini-epic about timeless rituals and modern environmental disaster. Paull's heartpounding novel wrenches us into a new world'
'This unusual and cunningly imagined thriller hurtles us through the very bizarre life and adventures of Flora 717 ... Strangely thought-provoking'
Angus Clarke, The Times
'A rich, strange book, utterly convincing in its portrayal of the mindset of a bee and a hive. I finished it feeling I knew exactly how bees think and live. This is what sets us humans apart from other animals, that our imagination can allow us to create a complete, believable world so different from our own'
'It is the best novel of its kind since Watership Down . All the tension of a palace intrigue and the heart of a small, undaunted hero. An astonishing achievement'
Martin Cruz Smith
'What Laline Paull has accomplished here is multivalent: a rumination on nature; a portrait of the struggle between individual and the stifling matrix of society; and a depiction of how humanity might organize itself along different lines. I'd call it, in the end, science fiction at its best.'
Paul Di Filippo, Locus
Publication date: 01/01/2015
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
|Publication date:||1st January 2015|
|Publisher:||HarperCollins Publishers Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers|
|Genres:||Reader Reviewed Books, Debuts of the Month, eBook Favourites, Family Drama, Reading Groups, Science Fiction,|
|Categories:||Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),|
Laline Paull studied English at Oxford, screenwriting in Los Angeles, and theatre in London, where she has had two plays performed at the Royal National Theatre. She is a member of BAFTA and the Writers' Guild of America. She lives in England by the sea with her husband, the photographer Adrian Peacock, and their three children. Author photo © Adrian PeacockMore About Laline Paull