storytimewithbuffy

Non-Human Stories

In Book Reviews on February 25, 2015 at 6:00 am

Animal Stories

I’ve had a break from my blog for a few months, but during that time I definitely didn’t stop reading. As a result, I have a rather large backlog of books to tell you about. The two books that I’ve chosen for today have one thing in common: the main characters aren’t humans.

These books intrigued me because of their perspective. One is from a bee’s point of view and the other is from a cow’s viewpoint. Even though these stories are from a non-human perspective, they aren’t children’s books and I loved both of them, although for completely different reasons.

The Bees by Laline Paull

Laline Paull The Bees

Photo by Adrian Peacock/Ecco Press

 

This story was told from the perspective of Flora 717, a bee who was born into her hive as a sanitation worker. We join her at her birth as she kicks her way out of her birthing cell and meets her sisters for the first time.

Flora 717 is different than other bees; she’s somewhat larger than the others, but not so much so that she would be killed for it. She’s also not very attractive for a bee.

What appealed to me about this book is the dystopian feel it had to it. Everyone was locked into their roles from birth and they willingly performed the tasks they were born to do. The difference between this story and other dystopian stories I’ve read, however, is that this is nature. There is no over-throwing and revamping the system which made it significantly more interesting.

One thing I didn’t really understand was why Flora 717 was different and why she was allowed to move from job to job like a student doing work experience. Especially when everyone else was so committed to their roles.

Even thought I didn’t understand this aspect of the story, I found it gripping.

One of the things I enjoy doing once I’ve finished reading a book is to read the negative reviews on Goodreads. Sometimes I’ll read the positive ones, but usually I’ll only do that if I didn’t like the book. I like to know why someone has a different opinion to mine and to see if there’s something I missed or interpreted differently.

I only tend to read a few, but the ones I read regarding this book had a problem with the anthropomorphisation of animals. Apparently, these bees were too ‘human-like’ for some readers, which made me chuckle considering that this is a fictionalised account of life within a beehive. It’s strange to me that someone would read this book if they weren’t up for that kind of thing.

You might like this book if you enjoyed Watership Down. I saw a marketing blurb comparing it to the Hunger Games (as many dystopian books are these days) however, I feel that I must tell you that you will be very disappointed if you go into this with that expectation.

It’s a strange and wonderful tale about bees in a beehive and their relationship with each other as well as the ‘Myriad’ which are wasps, spiders, flies and pretty much all other creatures that aren’t bees.

Holy Cow

David Duchovny Holy Cow

Image from Duchovny Central

My husband posted an article to my Facebook page about this book. He knew that I would want to read this book because we are both X-Files fans and we both have a love of silliness and whimsy.

Naturally, I went to the book store and bought it immediately. I read this book in a day and I wasn’t disappointed.

I’d like to start out by saying that David Duchovny is completely bonkers. (Although delightfully so!) This book had me in fits of giggles.

This is the story of Elsie the cow who wants to escape from her farm and travel to India because cows are sacred there and she won’t get eaten. She is joined by a pig who has renamed himself Shalom and wants to travel to Israel because people there don’t eat pork. And then there’s Tom the Turkey who’s trying to slim down because Thanksgiving is getting close and he thinks that his best bet is to move to Turkey. For obvious reasons.

Okay, you reeeeeeeally have to suspend your disbelief for this story. I mean A LOT. These animals know how to buy plane tickets using an iPhone and they can get through airport security disguised as humans (a point with which a few Goodreads reviewers were not pleased). And they say things like ‘OMG’.

I loved this story. It doesn’t take itself seriously at all and I loved that about it. It doesn’t have any pretensions of being high literature or even about making a statement about animals being killed for food. It is what it is and I thought it was wonderful.

Apparently, he reads it on the audio version and while I’m not a huge fan of audio books, I would totally be down with listening to that.

If you need an injection of awesome into your day, check this book out.

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  1. I avoid Goodreads reviews like the plague as most reviewers there tend to take themselves much too seriously, unlike these books. I would think the two won’t mesh well.

    The Bees sound too much like a re-hash of Bee Movie and Antz, but the cow one sounds like a hoot. I’ll keep my eyes open for it – I’m perfectly fine with animals using iPhones. I do draw the line at bulls with udders…

    • I like to skim the reviews because you tend to find similar themes in them and it can be interesting.

      I definitely don’t think that The Bees was like those films and i don’t think I’d consider it a rehash because i right it was quite unique. I’d compare it more to Watership Down if i had to compare it to something.

      And don’t worry, there are no bulls with udders. 🙂

      • The central premise just sounds like those films – hive member dissatisfied with their role in the hive. It’s been done so many times, both with insects and in human dystopian fiction, I’m hesitant. But if she really managed to do it from a differently from previous versions I might give it a try.

        P.S. Did you get the “bulls with udders” reference? Probably the most disturbing film Disney ever made – I can’t even remember its name 😀

      • Ah, i see what you mean. I don’t think that she was dissatisfied with her role in the hive. I was though. It made me uncomfortable sometimes. She was shuttled from one job to another but she was happy to serve. She was sometimes confused as to the way things worked but i don’t want to give too much away. It’s definitely worth reading of you get the chance.

        No! Haha! I didn’t get the reference. I didn’t realise that there was a Disney film with transgender cows! Interesting…

      • The bulls with udders were also cowboys, if I remember correctly. The whole film was just so wrong on so many levels.

        (Hang on…cow boys. Now I get it 😛 )

      • Oh dear…this sounds like a train wreck. 🙂

  2. Welcome back! Holy Cow sounds delightfully ridiculous!

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