The Bees

  • by Laline Paull
  • Narrated by Orlagh Cassidy
  • 10 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 assets. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect nectar and pollen. A feat of bravery grants her access to 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 preeminence - enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the hive's strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by a greater power: A fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, and her society - and lead her to perform unthinkable deeds.
Thrilling, suspenseful, and spectacularly imaginative, The Bees and its dazzling young heroine will forever change the way you look at the world outside your window.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

What's the Buzz?

This is a book that I will listen to many times and have recommended repeatedly and I wouldn't have known about it but for the wonderful chance to follow some of my fellow reviewers. When I had more time in my life, I would read lots of book reviews, but those days are long gone. Now I follow audible reviewers and they have done a great job guiding me to treasure. So, thanks to Jim The Impatient who not only listens to a lot of books, but also writes reviews for the rest of us. I have followed in Jim's footsteps to find some hidden treasures more than once and The Bees is probably the best of the finds so far.

The story follows one bee through her whole life in the hive and Paull gets the listener invested in little Flora 717 from the beginning. The Bees stays surprisingly true to actual hive operation; Paull breathes life and personality into her characters without ever truly anthropomorphizing. These characters are never human, but they are easy to relate to and care about. When you listen, you can easily see where Paull could have called these creatures "triffles" or "Caldanians" and made this a great sci-fi or fantasy (and maybe found a more defined genre), but leaving them bees does make for a wonderful story and I will never look at a bee the same way again.

To top off some beautiful writing, you also get a fabulous narrator in Orlagh Cassidy. Her voice work with this book is almost beyond description it is so good. I loved all of her voices and the straight narrative, but the best was her voicing of the Priestesses - so dripping with oil it made me shudder.

If you like speculative fiction of any type or just great writing, you will love this. My hat is off to Paull, Cassidy, and Jim The Impatient!
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- Tango

My Favorite Book of 2014

It’s difficult to articulate just how brilliant and utterly original this book is. You really have to experience it to understand what the author is up to here. By pulling the listener inside a bee hive and tracing the seasonal lifecycle of one remarkable worker bee, Laline Paull has created a breathtaking novel with shades of dystopia and the pacing of a political thriller, demonstrating Orwellian intelligence but somehow – refreshingly - lacking the satire.

Stepping inside the microcosmic world of The Bees threw my own world into relief and made me feel –surprisingly – rather small. That this full experience of life - dramatic, messy, complicated, harrowing - is happening all around us but on a tiny scale is incredibly humbling. Despite taking place almost entirely inside a hive, the story is begins and ends with actual human characters. The beekeeper and his family seem to stand in as symbolic representatives of the human race, which has the ugly habit of finding self-referential meaning in the natural world, always assuming itself to be the center of all drama. But Paull shunts these people into the position of mere bookends to the story, and they are completely ignorant of the richness and mystery that lies in between.

Orlagh Cassidy’s performance was almost erotic, a perfect production choice. The world of the hive is totally sensual, heady with scents and flavors. Communication between the bees happens through smell, dancing, and vibrations. It’s an ornate, lush, complex, and sweet world – filled with randy – and misogynistic – male bees.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about The Bees for the last six months, and it has not yet gotten the public recognition I believe it deserves. I’m doing my best to change that every time I recommend it to a friend or colleague!
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- Emily - Audible

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-06-2014
  • Publisher: HarperAudio