Context

Earlier this year, during a small talk at the office (yes, it was a long time ago), I first heard of “The History of Bees”. The enthusiasm of my colleague had already convinced me to read the book, and I prioritized it after finding out that it tackles climate change issues. Fiction + climate change = a book I definitely want to read as soon as possible!

In a nutshell

“The History of Bees” combines futuristic dystopia and historical fiction to raise a red flag about the declining bee population. The story has three narrative lines – each one pertains to a different time period, but all have the “bee” element at heart. Apart from the ecological perspective, the book also deals with parents-children relations to a great extent.

Overall impression

I read devoured this 300+ pages book in less than 24 hours … that does not happen often! It is a carefully crafted blend of action-oriented and character-development story built on top of the climate change background. The story is a winning combination for my taste, so I definitely recommend it!

I fell in love with honeycomb structures. Illustration from Etsy.com

Beekeeping as family business

Beekeeping was presented mostly through the family business lens, leading to multiple parallels between bees’ and humans’ families. The problems faced by bees reflected the issues encountered by humans in their family life, needing urgent measures to change the course. Urgency was key.

As a side fact, did you know that bees communicate by dancing (also known as waggle dance)?

The waggle dance (left) and the swarm (right). Extract from The Book of Bees by Piotr Socha

Climate fiction

Have you ever heard of “climate fiction”? It is a relatively new genre – “literature of our planet in transformation” (Sparks, 2017) or “the climate change novel” (Irr, 2017).

I find it an appealing way of bringing the topic of climate change closer to people and getting new voices to the table. Regarding the climate change aspect of her books, Maja Lunde said “My books enable me to talk about the big, important issues. They allow me to have a voice in the climate debate” (2019).

Further reading / watching

The story about bees reminded me of an episode from the Black Mirror TV series (season 3, episode 3), where robotic bees were used because normal bees went extinct.

Back to books now! It is worth knowing that Maja Lunde published 3 of the 4 books that belong to her “Climate Quartet“. Books 2 and 3 focus on the ocean (“Blue”, 2017) and wild horses (“Przewalski’s Horse”, 2019), while the final book seems to be about “plants, seeds and everything that grows“, according to an interview with the writer (2019).

The German covers of the 3 books published, 4th one is still being written.

Wrap-up

“The History of Bees” by Maja Lunde is a beautiful and thought-provoking read that brings an important topic to the fiction world – we, as human beings, are utterly dependent on the well-being of bees and other insects. As long as they’re in danger, we are in danger, too.

Have you read any climate fiction novels? Looking forward to reading your recommendations!

‘Till next time … happy reading!

Georgiana


Cover picture adapted from Amazon.ca

2 thoughts on “What happens when bees go extinct: The History of Bees by Maja Lunde (book review)

  1. Glad you liked this! I read The End of the Ocean (that’s the title HarperVia used to publish Blue in the US) early this year. It was a so-so read for me. But I’ve seen many reviewers raving about The History of Bees. I should give it a shot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you could give it a try, maybe it’s more exciting than Blue. Personally I’m very curious to read all books of the series! At the moment Blue is available in Romania only as hardback cover, most probably I’ll wait for the paperback cover 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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