Review: The Bees by Laline Paull

Opening sentence:The old orchard stood besieged.

Apart from maybe Animal Farm or The Gruffalo, I haven’t read many books told from the point of view of an animal or, in this case, an insect. The Bees – in structure and plot – is a gripping little thriller, the unique difference being, as mentioned, it is all told through the eyes of Flora 717, one of the many worker bees that makes up the hive.

the bees laline paul book review books on the 7:47

So, the story is narrated by a bee??

Yes. Flora narrates the whole story and we learn the intricate workings of the hive and the general (real) life of a bee. Never destined to be anything special, her role is to make sure the needs of the Queen bee are met and the hive remains strong.

As a character, she develops from an identikit bee to a feisty little heroine you end up rooting for. The plot is not short on action either, from the hive being attacked to Flora working her way up the hierarchy and, finally, rebelling against authority in the ultimate way. It may all sound a little dramatic or far fetched but it written in such an easy-to-read style, you can’t help but keep turning those pages.

Is it based on real bee facts?

Fascinated to see if the description of life in the hive was accurate, I turned to – who else? – David Attenborough. I don’t mean personally, sadly I don’t know him, but a quick Google and he confirmed that, yep, the descriptions were pretty accurate, which made the story even more enjoyable for me. I do like it when fact and fiction hold hands like that.

Although many people run terrified whenever a bee comes close, I’ve never been like that and since understanding more about how how important they are to our eco-system, my soft spot for them has grown and this delightful tale just makes me love them even more. The Bees is engrossing, unique and educational, everything a book should be, in my humble opinion.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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