Review: The History of Bees by Maja Lunde

32920292*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: The History of Bees

Author: Maja Lunde

Publisher: Touchstone

Publication Date: August 22, 2017

ISBN: 9781501161377

Synopsis from Goodreads:
England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed merchant, who sets out to build a new type of beehive one that will give both him and his children honour and fame. United States, 2007. George is a beekeeper fighting an uphill battle against modern farming, but hopes that his son can be their salvation. China, 2098. Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared. When Tao s young son is taken away by the authorities after a tragic accident, she sets out on a gruelling journey to find out what happened to him. 


This English translation of Maja Lunde’s Bienes Historie is an excellent observation of the intricate relationship between humanity and the tiny little honey bee. Lunde positions the story from three perspectives: the mid-Nineteenth Century with the development of the beehive, the early Twenty-First Century where the world is encountering Colony Collapse Disorder for the first time, and the late Twenty-First Century where humanity has barely survived the extinction of bees. The stories provide  a look at the effect that bees have on human life–their life sustaining abilities–at all stages of human history from pre-Industrial Revolution to the future.

I loved reading this book. And it’s got a fantastic cover to boot! I found it to be heart-breaking and gut-wrenching, but also full of hope as the novel draws to a close. It’s full of life-and-death moments, mystery, excitement, new invention, change, and so much more. Lunde doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities that the absence of bees has on life of Earth. The story has been compared to Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel (another one of my favourites) and I can see why. Lunde confronts the end of life as we know it and the collapse of the human race. She doesn’t show us exactly how it comes to be, but leaves the downfall to our imaginations, which I really enjoyed. The story is not about the collapse, but about it’s effect on the survival of humanity.

The story moves quickly from moment to moment at a good pace, keeping the reader engaged and wanting more. I finished this book just a few days, so excited to find out how it would end and what the characters would encounter. I found the characters to be incredibly real and very relatable. They are all honest in their triumphs and failures, bringing this story to life. I related to Tao in 2098 the most, connecting her in a raw and visceral way. Her pain is the greatest, I found, and her emotion is strong and tangible. Her story was the most moving to me, but I like the others as well!

I hope you’ll give this story a try. It’s worth the read.

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