Genres: Animals, Dystopia, Adult/YA
Release Date: May 6th, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
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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…
The biggest downfall of this book for me was what made it unique: the bees (pun kind of intended.. but is it a pun or is it not, that is the question).This book has a lot of things going for it, but the characterization of the bees made it almost impossible for me to enjoy it. It really sucks because the plot is interesting, the world building is marvelous, but the characterization of the bees really grated on me.
My favorite bit in the whole book was actually the prologue and the epilogue. That’s it.
I don’t know where to begin because it’s so hard to untangle my thoughts. I find myself confused because while I did NOT like the book, I can see that there are many aspects that are interesting
Flora 717 is a special snowflake bee. Flora bees are of the lowest order and tend to be sanitation workers, but somehow Flora 717 is different. For starters, she can talk which is most unusual for Flora bees. Morever, Flora 717 can produce royal jelly which is basically what they feed the new born baby bees. Basically, she can do everything and seems to be really smart (for a bee, that is).The problem is, I never could get behind her. She felt “too human” for a bee. All of the bees for that matter seemed human and this humanization of bees really got to me, seeing that BEES ARE NOT HUMANS.
Flora 717 feels love. She feels her heart swell with love, she has howled out her heartbreak and all of these words used to describe her actions and feelings make her seem too human for my comfort. That is the downfall of this book for me. Having bees as characters is great, but when they seem to read like humans instead of bees, there is a problem.
The bees actually say “amen”. This is such an obvious humanization of the bees that it bothered the living daylights out of me. Why are the bees saying “amen”? WHY? Why do these bees have a religion that seems to be based on Christianity or Judaism (this is an assumption based on the fact that these bees say amen)?
What’s even weirder is that Flora 717 seems to have a love interest. It isn’t a romance but there does seem to be feelings involved in the way she acts around a certain Sir Linden and THAT is creepy. The first thing I did when I got a sense of this was laugh… really hard because in all honesty it is ridiculous in my opinion.
Characterization aside, I do think that the dynamics within the hive are interesting. Seeing all the roles the different breeds of bees play to keep the hive functioning is very interesting. I especially like that this book isn’t so much of a dystopia as it is about just being part of something bigger. At the same time though, I found myself wondering if it was fair that Flora 717 got more freedom than anyone else in the hive without ever having to deal with serious consequences. Although I have to say, it is appreciated that this book wasn’t about overthrowing the ‘queen’ and setting everyone free because you cannot do that. Bees need hives to survive and everyone will need to play a role to make the hive function. I also really liked the queen. I think she was a very interesting character and I really liked seeing the role she played.
There were so many elements to the world building worth mentioning, but I don’t even know how to begin to do so. There is devotion, the mother’s love and all these little tid bits about the inner workings of the hive which were so incredibly fascinating, but at the same time, there were TOO MUCH INFORMATION. I found my mind wandering and sometimes it was just so hard to focus because I was so tired of all the information being thrown at me.
The plot was just decent as well but the problem was the bees made it impossible for me to enjoy it. I wonder: if the same story had human characters, would it have been more enjoyable? The plot is incredibly slow paced and it picks up at times, but will will slow down again as Flora 717 returns to her routine. The weird pacing actually works in this case, but I didn’t really care.
This book does have a lot going for it but sadly it didn’t work out for me. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for something different, but if you, like me, will be bothered by the humanization of the bees, I’d say skip it.
(Note that the rating report does not reflect my final rating for the book but a breakdown of the various elements. My final rating for this book is 1 star)
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