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Laline Paull's debut novel The bees has been hailed as "Watership Down for The Hunger Games' generation". Actually that's not a bad analogy, as it's one of the best novels I've ever read that's got inside an animal's head. Bees are not as naturally cuddly as rabbits, but this is an astounding novel - part science fiction, part fable, part nature mockumentary, wholly engrossing and extraordinary. I would have never thought that 350 pages about a hive of honey bees would have held me captivated, but that's exactly what this novel did.

Flora 717 is a lowly sanitation bee, clumsy and rather lacking in the usual apian social graces, Flora moves through the ranks quickly despite her status at the bottom end of hive society. As she moves through her short (by human standards) life, we see the changes that come upon the hive, part natural, part man-made; set against this background Flora has a terrible secret that she will do anything to hide, it may…

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