Review Room

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Audiobook Review : The Bees by Laline Paull

Written By: amodini - Aug• 12•15

The Bees: A NovelTitle : The Bees
Author : Laline Paull
Narrator : Orlagh Cassidy
Genre : Contemporary
Publisher : Harper Audio
Listening Length : 10 hours 15 minutes
Rating : 4.5/5
Narrator Rating : 5/5

This book was on my to-read list for many, many weeks before I actually checked it out at my local library. I was skeptical about the luxuriant praise showered on this book – it was about bees, how interesting could it get? Very, as it turns out.

The book’s main character is Flora 717, a lowly sanitation worker-bee in a beehive. She lives with, and is surrounded by, hundreds of her sisters in a close knit community. Each bee has her station and calling. Some are sanitation workers like Flora, some are foragers, while some are high priestesses. All are united in doing their best to “accept, obey and serve” working for their hive and their Queen mother, whose love keeps them motivated.

Although low-born, Flora 717 is intelligent, strong and resourceful. As she rises among the ranks, she breaks the one Sacred Law governing the hive, one which makes the Queen’s High Priestesses her enemies. Now she must fight for her own, and a hard fight it will be.

The Bees is an unusual book for me, since I have never read a fiction novel featuring animal characters. Of course Paull’s bees aren’t just insects, because she imbues them with human traits – love, hate, sisterhood, jealousy, self-preservation. After a while you forget that Flora 717 is a bee, so interesting is Paull’s story-telling. I also enjoyed learning about bees, because the author in her narrative, tells us about how a bee-hive functions from season to season, and how the different job functions promote its smooth running.

This book also works because Flora 717 is a very likable character, and we root for her. The Bees is anthropomorphism done very, very well. The audiobook is made even more enjoyable by Orlagh Cassidy’s narration. Cassidy has a smooth, velvety, mellifluous voice, perfect to portray bees, because I imagine them speaking (if they did) as sweetly as the honey they make. Cassidy also has great tonal shift, and conveys moments of happiness or strife very well. Her narration kept the pace interesting.

Highly recommended.

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