The Hunger Games meets The Handmaid’s Tale? … ok, you got me.
Flora 717 is a sanitation worker bee. Her caste is considered the lowest of the low. Their responsibilities are limited to cleaning the hive of dirt, grime, and the bodies of fellow dead bees. There is an exception to this particular Flora 717, though. Although she is much larger and, in the eyes of the other bees, a lot uglier than most caste members, she has traits that no other sanitation worker has displayed before. This Flora can astonishingly produce flow, which is when bees have the ability to produce honey to feed the babies in the nursery. This action is primarily found within one specific caste because they are the nursery workers tending to the young. But somehow a sanitation worker has managed to join their ranks and as we follow Flora on her puzzling journey, we find that she is capable of doing so much more.
This novel was fascinating. At first, I was completely skeptical as it was categorized as a dystopian novel. I mean… they’re bees! It seemed absurd and in some places, it WAS absurd. Paull made a smart move in choosing a hive as the center of her story. There are plenty of aspects that land this book into the dystopian genre: for instance, the bees believe the Queen is the ultimate ruler. She is their religion. Only the Queen may breed. It is their duty to accept, obey, and serve.
Before you go into this book, I would suggest refreshing your knowledge on honey bees, particularly bee reproduction and how the hive is set up. It was a complete learning experience for me as sometimes it was hard to discern fact from fiction — believe me when I say I have A LOT of ‘did-you-knows’ now! Also, the book boasts more violence than you would think. You kept on surprising me, Laline Paull.