Dystopian, Family

The History of Bees by Maja Lunde

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I heard that this novel was being compared to Station Eleven, I knew I had to give it a shot. Station Eleven was a book I absolutely adored so I was hoping I would enjoy this one just as much. Here is my review:

England, 1853: William gave up on his research in order to be a seed merchant and provide for his family. What he didn’t account for was the melancholy that would take over him and prevent him from doing anything. But when he stumbles upon a book that rekindles his passion in biology, he decides to set out and build a new type of beehive, one that will bring fame and honour to him and his children.

United States, 2007: George is a beekeeper who loves his traditional farming methods, and is opposing the tide of modern farming. But he is getting older every day and knows he can’t keep up with modern innovation. His only hope is in his son, Tom.

China, 2098: Now that the bees have disappeared, hundreds of workers must hand-pollinate. Tao has been doing this arduous task for years, trying to save enough money so that she and her husband can have another child, while also trying to educate her young son so that he can aspire for more in his life. When Tao’s young son is taken away by authorities after a tragic accident, she sets off on a dangerous journey to find out what happened to him.

Going into this book, I knew that it was a slow-burner that would take time to develop intrigue. I actually knew nothing about bees or pollination or the vital role that they play in our world, so I thought that was extremely interesting. The author really takes this environmental issue and beautifully connects it across 3 different generations and 3 very different groups of people. Each story was unique but presented the same content: parent-child relationships and how they are affected by parents’ expectations or hopes for their child. I thought that the author did an amazing job in portraying this relationship in each of the stories. However, I found it hard to get into the story itself. This was mainly due to the fact that the characters didn’t invoke any emotion from me. I didn’t feel invested in them and found it hard to make a connection with them. I also found that while the topics that the novel addresses were important, the author never reached the core of anything; it just felt like some depth was missing. So while this is a very interesting story told from 3 very different perspectives, it didn’t give me the overall effect I was looking for, which is why I’m giving this a 3/5 stars.


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