Author: A.J. Betts
Published: June 26th 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Rating: 3.5 stars
All I can tell you is what I remember, in the words that I have.
Hayley tends to her bees and follows the rules in the only world she has ever known.
Until she witnesses the impossible: a drip from the ceiling.
A drip? It doesn’t make sense.
Yet she hears it, catches it. Tastes it.
Curiosity is a hook.
What starts as a drip leads to a lie, a death, a boy, a beast, and too many awful questions.
Hive is the first in a gripping two-book series by award-winning and international bestselling author A. J. Betts.
I will freely admit that my usual reading fodder rarely extends to young adult and dystopian style fiction. However, a new book by a successful Perth based writer, who I have not yet had the pleasure of reading encouraged me to try Hive, by A.J. Betts. This visually appealing front cover, a foil gold embossed bee wings design initially drew me into this book. I was intrigued and my curiosity was rewarded by a highly innovative storyline, that I questioned over and over again.
Hive brings us the story of Hayley, a teenager who lives in a strange and alternative hexagonal world. The world Hayley inhabits involves care of bees. This is an extremely ordered world, where rules are to be followed and routines strictly adhered to. Hayley believes there is no other world out there than the one she lives in. Hayley’s world changes when she spies a drip in the ceiling. Suddenly her outlook is changed, but in Hayley’s world it does not pay to be inquisitive about the world you live in. The drip marks the beginning of a number of changes to Hayley’s life and the world of those living in her community. First there is the drip, which is followed by a death and before Hayley knows it, a loophole has been exposed. Hive is deadly, perplexing and utterly intriguing.
Hive, signals quite the turning point for me. I often struggle to connect to the dystopian genre and young adult themes. However, I did appreciate a number of things about this book. I can safely say adult readers will be able to appreciate this text. While on the younger readers end of the scale, I would say that Hive is a book ideally suited to older teenagers.
A.J. Betts has created an alternative vision of living that is incredibly well described and complex. It did take me some time to simply get in tune with the world depicted in this novel, but once it happened, I was happy to go with the flow. I really admired the approach the author has taken with this novel, it has a real Logan’s Run/The Island/The Handmaid’s Tale (alternative world feel films) feel. I enjoyed the sequences that described the day-to-day and sustainable form of living taken by the community featured in Hive. I could easily visualise many moments of this text transferring to the big screen, there is a definite cinematic quality to this novel.
Hayley, the central protagonist in Hive, is depicted with a natural propensity to inquire about her surroundings, which is matched with a kind of wide-eyed innocence. I think readers of all ages will find a link to Hayley and her story. I believe Hayley is the type of protagonist readers want to cheer on and make it until the end. Through Betts’ prose, we become easily swept up in her welfare. I know I found that the latter stages of the book seemed to whizz by, the pace definitely quickens. As the book progressed, I also began to feel quite angry about the oppressive nature of the community in which Hayley resides and the lack of options for living in this odd world. Betts includes a surprising end for her main protagonist and we are left hanging (hopefully not for too long) with the promise of a second novel on its way, via a back page teaser.
Sometimes it is a good thing for a big reader like me to explore other genres and themes. I am thankful to the latest novel by A.J. Betts, Hive, for pushing me way out of my comfort zone with this alternative world and unsettling offering. Reach for Hive if you appreciate young adult and visionary based works of fiction.
Hive by A.J. Betts was published on June 26th 2018 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Hive, A.J. Betts visit here.
*I wish to thank the publisher, Pan Macmillan for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Hive is book #69 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge