Hive by AJ Betts
Fremantle Press, 2018. ISBN 9781760556433
(Ages: Secondary) Highly recommended. Themes: Future. Dystopia. Bees. Survival. The community is like a beehive, everyone has a role, no one knows what outside is like, and they all worship God, from whom water comes every day. The hierarchy is strict and a judge and her council rule the three hundred occupants.
But one day Hayley sees a drip. She is afraid. Water only comes from God and yet it is coming from the ceiling in the way between living spaces, a place she is forbidden to enter unless a bee has escaped.
She is frightened, things in her world are not as assured as before, she notices things. Chasing a bee, she runs into Geoffrey, one of the uncles and he seems to die from the bee sting. Questions are raised about the bees and their place within the community.
Told that God gathers the dead and takes them to heaven, she sees an aunt butchered and thrown into the hub, the place their meat comes from.
Her best friend Celia is about to be married, a cause for great celebration within the community as it heralds another baby. Hayley has befriended Luka, one of the netters who seems to question as she does, and when Celia is refused marriage as her body has been examined and found wanting, Hayley is put in her place, and she chooses Luka as her bridegroom in the hope they can have three nights of talking without interruption and work out what is going on in the place they live. But someone else knows she is questioning and rather than be deemed mad, he takes action to save her.
This is a riveting read of a place where people have taken refuge after an event which has killed many. But their sanctuary has been severely reduced and stories evolved to explain their survival, stories which justify why they live in such a place, and why God is merciful. But when someone questions, steps must be taken to remove her. Not your usual post apocalypse story, Hive is a stunning read, raising all sorts of issues about survival and the role of story in keeping people compliant.
Amanda Betts is a well known Western Australian author, writer of several of my favourite YA novels, Wavelength, Zac and Mia and Shutterspeed, all engrossing reads with a totally different perspective on life for post millennials.