The Bees — Laline Paull

Now that was quite a strange experience.

To begin, this is listed on Amazon as ‘Dystopian’ and ‘Dystopian Science Fiction’, it is neither of these.   How anyone can get to class the typical life cycle of a hive of a honey bee hive to fit either of those genres is utterly beyond my comprehension.

If i were to genre-ise this book then i would put it firmly in the children’s fantasy and children’s education section.   Why?   Because if you have a child who is getting to the age where you have to have that conversation about the birds and the bees, then i think this book would be a great way to broach the subject, both literally and metaphorically.   It pretty much covers everything there is concerning the life cycle of bees but presents it in an anthropomorphic way that i would consider appropriate for children learning about these things.

If i was home schooling a child then this book would definitely be getting read and explored a lot further.   If it was juxtaposed with a genuinely accurate text about the life cycle and habits of honey bees there would be a great deal to discuss with a learning child.   One could also take nature walks with a child to spot the various flowers and trees mentioned, maybe even visit a real bee hive.   I remember when i was a child my local museum had a beehive in a big glass case with the entrance through the back wall behind the case.   It was incredibly fascinating.

But as a book for adults alone, no, it’s just far too childish for my tastes.

The main character, a honey bee that is a freak but isn’t killed by the other bees at birth for being so, becomes some new kind of super bee that seems to be able to resist the hive mind and do whatever she wants and goes through most of the jobs in the hive doing them all better than the bees whose sole job they’ve been bred for.   On top of the childishness of this aspect is the childishness of heavily anthropomorphising this character far above the general anthropomorphising of all the other bees.

Not that i mind a bit of anthropomorphising, but for a honey bee it does get overdone to childishness, which is why i consider this a children’s book.

Other than that, i have to say that it is very well written, with a flowing style and easy language — again, making it very suitable for children.

Rather disappointed, but for 99p i shouldn’t really moan.

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