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William's Book Blog

Mostly book reviews.  Very rarely I'll allow William Campbell Powell (author) to write a blog entry on publishing activity, but he's under orders to keep that stuff over on his Facebook page and on http://williamcampbellpowell.com

Currently reading

Fonda Lee
Fonda Lee
Anansi Boys
Neil Gaiman
Zombie Elementary: The Real Story
Howard Whitehouse
Progress: 99 %
The Angel's Game (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #2)
Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Progress: 6/504 pages
The Longest Week: What Really Happened During Jesus' Final Days
Nick Page
Progress: 43/310 pages

The Bees - interim

The Bees - Laline Paull

I've been dipping into this, rather than totally throwing myself into the book.  (That's not the book's fault - it's entirely that disruptive thing called life, intruding into the process of reading.)


So I'm less than a third into the book, and much of that has been scene-setting - life in the hive, hierarchies.  There's been some conflict and tension - an invasion by wasps that allows Flora to shine, and has brought her to the attention of the Queen - but until this current page, nothing bar the cover blurb to indicate that Flora's progress would be anything but upwards.


Finally it's come, and I expect that from here on in the ride will be a lot rougher for Flora.


At this point my warning is that it has taken a lot of pages to get to the conflict point.  Personally I'm not averse to this level of scene-setting, but it's definitely not a book that falls into the "page 1: protag stuck up a tree, page 2: tree catches fire, page 3: arrested by CIA ... page 20: time for a bit of backstory" mould.


Instead I've been kept interested by some good worldbuild-by-showing writing.  I feel involved in this world, ready to root for Flora when the going does get tough.  Having a science background, I'm fascinated by Paull's depiction of a world of complex chemical triggering, being used for everything from deciding caste, through signposting within the hive, to communicating sophisticated stories as VR.  It's a popularisation of science, yet if you allow for a anthropomorphic licence, it's probably true enough.


I'd hope that YA readers would persevere with this, which I'd characterise as a great bridge to adult speculative fiction.