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“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.

Yet Flora has talents that are not typical of her kin. And while mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is reassigned to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting pollen on the wing. Then she finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers secrets both sublime and ominous. Enemies roam everywhere, from the fearsome fertility police to the high priestesses who jealously guard the Hive Mind. But Flora cannot help but break the most sacred law of all, and her instinct to serve is overshadowed by a desire, as overwhelming as it is forbidden…”

REVIEW : Flora 717 has no desire. Atleast not till the first 160 pages of the book. If Flora was driven by something, a desire to break the clannism that was present in the hive, to maybe not be a lowly sanitation worker or atleast to make friends and have a circle around her. A desire for something, anything! But Flora just goes through the first 160 pages la-di-da without anything resembling ambition and we are expected to root for her. I would have dropped the book much earlier. But Jen from Combustible Reviews, who was also reading this book for the Rainbowthon, said that she was enjoying it and I ploughed through, gritting my teeth and waiting for something, anything, to happen.

And it did. After the first 160 pages Flora straps on a pair (forgive the meninist terminology) and starts realising that hey, she has needs and wants too. Then the story picks up, fails at places, picks up again and goes on. After it picked up the things annoying me were the flowery passages. Literally, flowery passages. Descriptions of how different flowers do pretty much the same thing to attract her. I get it, the flowers want you, please move on! But Laline Paull fixed that at the end. The end was so unexpected that it left me shocked. Surprised me completely. Since the whole book was below expectations, I didn’t expect the brilliant ending. But it was great.

I’m not saying this ending made it a 5 star read for me, far from it. But this was a decent book. A 3 star read, which for me was a little generous given how uninspired I felt by it. I blame the hype. The book itself isn’t a bad book, but it doesn’t deserve the hype that it got. I was expecting something between Game Of Thrones and an Animal Planet special on how life is in the hive. But this isn’t that at all. This is just a book on how a bunch of bees, Flora 717 in particular, go through their routines and their everyday lives. And if you knew how Bee’s lives are you’d know that it was boring at best. But for a debut this is pretty great and I’ll expect a lot from Laline Paull as she continues writing. So go in with low expectations and you might just love the book.


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Have you read The Bees? What did you think of it?