The Bees

  • by Laline Paull
  • Narrated by Orlagh Cassidy
  • 10 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Handmaid's Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut.
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 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.

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What the Critics Say

The Bees is an extraordinary feat of imagination, conjuring the life of a beehive in gripping, passionate and brilliant detail. With every page I turned, I found myself drawn deeper into Flora's plight and her immersive, mesmerizing world.” (Madeline Miller, author of The Song of Achilles)
The Bees” is one wild ride. A sensual, visceral mini-epic about timeless rituals and modern environmental disaster. Paull's heart pounding novel wrenches us into a new world.” (Emma Donoghue, author of Room)
“This is a rich, strange book, utterly convincing in its portrayal of the mind-set 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.” (Tracy Chevalier)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

amazing and accurate account of the honey bee!

An excellent read that's detail has been carefully researched to pull together a story of love, honey, and bees. I think beekeepers will adore this and it's been written so well that non beekeepers will understand and enjoy the journey too! You could not have picked a better suited narrator.
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- rallynug

Not what I expected

I have wanted to read this book since I first heard about it. Now I've listened to it, I'm not sure what I originally expected, only that this wasn't it. The story of bee sanitation worker, Flora 717, reminded me of a fanatical religious cult run by bullies.

I found the narration grating at times, particularly when the narrator voiced the myriad of particularly unpleasant creatures that Flora encountered. I wonder whether the book would sound different if I had read it myself, if I would have enjoyed it more.

That said, it was engaging enough for me to listen to the whole 10 hours. At about the 6 hour mark it was touch and go, but I persevered to the end and am glad I did. I think this book suffered under the weight of my expectation more than anything else. Well, that, and I'm pretty sure (well, I hope) spiders don't sound like that.
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- Tracey

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-06-2014
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Limited