Classic story of a dystopian hierarchical society which feels like fantasy even though it’s based on how bees really behave… This is what takes it to the next level though, the premise being a relatively familiar story of a child at the bottom of a strict social hierarchy who is plucked from obscurity due to her unusual talent, but this ultimately puts her in danger. This happens amidst a backdrop of a tyrannical ruling class which is starting to show cracks as the propaganda upholding it is shown to be false, and factions emerge fighting for control. Combined with outside dangers of invasion, a famine and the stealing of the hives natural resources, civil war breaks out. All factions become victims and perpetrators of murder and cruelty. Ultimately what is presumed to be the natural order is revealed to be completely constructed by those who want to keep hold of their privilege and power, and change is inevitable, but dependant on the sacrifice of many lives.
It’s the story of how many human dictatorships fall, but with the immersive and beautiful setting of a hive of honey bees creating an atmosphere based on all the senses and manages to combine meticulous research with a highly emotive first person narrative. It covers so many social and political issues that are experienced by nations and communities engaged in the transition between tyranny, civil war, justice, and rebuilding and the myriad of complexities therein, especially when outside forces such as famine, manipulation by other, stronger communities and the literal stealing of resources. This book is truly unique while simultaneously capturing the essence of real human experience. I couldn’t recommend it enough!