BOOK CLUB: Hive

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Auhor: A.J. Betts
ISBN: 9781760556433
RRP: $16.99
Publication Date: 26th June 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

A.J. Betts is an award-winning Australian author and Hive is my introduction to her work.

Hive is an alternate-world story that was actually not what I expected. This is a young adult title that I think is probably well suited to the mid-range of the demographic. There is quite a lovely naivety and innocence about the characters that would fit well with the younger end of the scale but some of the themes may still be a little too much. Having said that I think older audiences will still enjoy the story, I know I certainly did.

It’s hard to really explain what I have going on in my head because it is told quite simplistically but is a rather complex storyline.

Hayley is living in an enclosed world that is strictly regimented and everyone has their place in the community. Her world is small, her knowledge is passed down through generations and the language is rather simplistic. They are only taught the words for those things within the realm of their experience, and they are a religious community with an all-seeing God.

It was early on in the story that I started questioning the nature of this community and trying to piece together what it all meant, but I don’t think I actually figured it out before it unfolded on the pages.

The community Hayley is a part of is quite small, close knit and well guided, until the people come along that aren’t happy to just accept the status quo; they have questions and they want answers, they want to understand and know how and why it all works…. and that isn’t always a good thing.

Curiosity is a character trait that can land you in tricky situations when the older generations can’t or won’t answer your questions. If you do have an inquiring mind that needs to know how and why things work there is little that is more frustrating than a non-answer. ‘God works in mysterious ways’ isn’t going to satisfy the curiosity.

Early on I’m making mental comparisons to The Truman Show and…. another one that I can’t name right now. Yes, they are both enclosed communities but that is where the similarities end really.

At the conclusion of this book a lot of pieces fell into place and I could feel myself putting the mental pieces together as I was reading and the final chapters were answering the questions I had. I was happy with how it all came together and then it just stopped. Lucky for me, I knew there was a second book to come but I would have been bitterly disappointed thinking that was where it ended.

Hayley and her community are trained from early on how to think and what is acceptable, their class systems are far removed from what we see these days but they are well documented and strictly enforced. Marriage is required but it is done with a lot of ceremony because it has to be followed to make sure it is a suitable match, a small gene pool makes it even trickier to make sure you aren’t mixing genes that are best left separate.

Hive is written in a way that leaves the reader questioning when and where this community is situated because the story is told in a way that leaves you thinking it could be anywhere. It’s a sustainable hive that grows it’s own food, produces it’s own oxygen and has a supply of meat. It is also a community that has no known recollections of life before the hive, they’ve been there for generations and generations and no-one knows what was before. This plotline certainly had me intrigued.

I enjoyed the way the storyline played out and I will be keeping an eye out in 2019 for Rogue to see how the story ends. I think that sometimes it’s difficult to come up with a truly original story but Betts has woven different elements to create something unique.

Hive is book #27 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2018.

A.J. Betts can be found on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

Hive is published by Pan Macmillan and is available now from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan 15 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading Hive so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below. I can not wait to hear what our readers think.

15 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Hive

  1. When I first read the blurb for Hive, I didn’t expect much. However, upon reading I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was an easy read which I finished in three days. The cover instantly reeled me in and had me sitting down immediately to begin it. Majority of characters have a naivety about them which made me almost frustrated. However I suppose that is what made me enjoy and relate to the main characters even more. Highly recommend this book for teenagers and above due to the underlying heavy topics, and to properly understand what is going on.

  2. Great! 5/5 for YA book Hive by A. J. Betts, I quickly read through this one as the premise is really interesting and it allows you to form your own idea of what is happening. Hayley and Ceilia are best friends, gardeners who have their respective jobs, Hayley being a beekeeper. You are not at all sure what time or place the story is set and this reveals as more of the characters and places are described, with parallels to the here and now but also clear differences. The society is organised and ruled with God being the all knowing but under utopian lines of enforced roles and interactions between people. There are good hooks, the headpains, The son and the imminent marriage all push you one to want to know more, right through to the end when you want to turn to the next page! Well written, and clear to read, although some of the scenes are confronting and serious, but such is the reality of life. Another great book, thank Beauty and Lace Pan McMillian Australia for the opportunity- I look forward to the next book.

  3. Loved the eye-catching gold embossed wings on cover! This book was so very different from my usual and I have to say it had me turning pages after I got further into it. I thought it had a cult-like feel to it and at times felt closed in because of how they existed and perhaps the strict rules and sheltered way of life they had to live. Hayley’s inquisitive nature kept this book interesting, even though she was naive due to not knowing any different. I thought this book was great. The end leaves you wanting for more and people who enjoyed this one will be hanging out for the next sequel, Rogue.
    Thanks for this book

  4. Thank you Beauty and Lace Bookclub and Pan Macmillion for the opportunity to read Hive by A.J.Betts. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and delayed many other things so that I could read it once I was hooked. The main character, Hayley may appear to be naive but she knows fear & curiosity which sets her somewhat apart from the others that share her world. Her world is governed by strict rules and patterns which need to be adhered to without question. I thought it was a unique storyline and plot offered by the author, but I do think due to some of the more “gruesome” realities described, in my opinion may not be suitable for some young adult readers in their early teens.

  5. This was a very easy book to read and one which I would deem a ‘summer holidays read’ meaning it is fun and entertaining but doesnt require too much brain power. In saying that I enjoyed reading it.

    The characters were were well described but at time irritating in not being able to see the obvious but perhaps this was intended. Once you start reading this book you are gripped and want to keep reading until the very end.

    I would recommend this book for late teens to early adult as some of the concepts around society are challenging. I am definitely keeping an eye out for the next book in the series.

  6. The first few pages of this young adult fiction were difficult, but after that, Hive by AJ Betts was difficult to put down.
    I felt the author cleverly revealed the plot to keep the reader intrigued and draws her characters well. There are some challenging themes for young adults but AJ Betts has handled these well also.

    I’m keen for the sequel next year. A great read. Thank you!

  7. Hive is a book that twists and turns that it can be hard to understand at times, the first few pages I thought i’d never quite understand what was happening. It gets better when you understand the characters and how they perceive life.
    The main character Hayley has headpains and in the times of those headpains she retreats to a vacant room. The characters in Hive believe there world is the only world, that God is the bringer of everything and anything outside of the small community that has been built is impossible.
    That is until Hayley notices a drip of water.
    As Hive is the first in a series i’m really looking forward to what Hayley finds outside of her sheltered life and what will happen to her!

  8. Be prepared – once you have read this book you will be hooked and waiting for the sequel!!! This book had a great flow and left you wanting to keep reading to know more about the hive and the ‘utopian’ society they have created. This book does have some scenes that I would not think appropriate for the younger end of the YA genre. I enjoyed uncovering how the elders of this new society had constructed and explained this new reality and environment to the generations born into the hive. I can’t wait for the next book!!

  9. Hurry up sequel!!!!!!!

    I don’t often say that, but i NEED to know what happens next.

    I kept trying to think of what kind of world it was, the where and when and why of it, and then suddenly it all made sense.

    A great look at how society may develop in an enclosed situation

    Great believable and lovable characters, even the one you think its bad until you are told why he does what he has to do for the community

    Highly recommended…and hurry up sequel

  10. I’ve read quite a few reviews and heard a lot about A.J. Betts novel Zack & Mia so I was delighted to have the opportunity to read and review Betts’ latest novel Hive.

    Hayley’s world consisted of 6 hexagonal houses each connected to a common room by corridors. Above these was a nursery and above that the Upper house for The Council. The Council was the ruling group which was headed by the Judge, a role that was inherited.
    Much like a bee hive everyone has their designated role. There were those that nurture and teach, those that prepare meals, those that tend the gardens and those that work in the machine rooms with everyone working together for a common good.

    Hayley is a gardener, she tends the hives, her voice is young and naive which is appropriate for someone brought up in a cult-like world where every part of your life is set out and controlled from birth to death. Chimes sound and are adhered to. They signal work times, meal times and sleep time where the people are locked in dorms. Made me think it was very similar to a prison.

    No one questions their world, that is just the way it is, God’s way. If anyone questions why something happens the elders simply answer “God works in mysterious ways.”

    Hayley is inquisitive and she can’t help breaking rules and asking questions and not accepting vague answers. But they have ways of dealing with people who ask too many questions.

    Hayley was instantly likeable, so young and naive. She was inquisitive and strong. She quite often spoke her mind with dire consequences.
    The story was like nothing I’ve read before. Note quite cult, not quite dystopian and not quite science fiction, but a mixture of the three.
    I had a lot of questions reeling around in my head while I was reading the story. Some were answered, others weren’t. But I must say I was totally sucked into the story shocked at how the community lived and accepted this way of living; but then I suppose they knew no better.

    The ending left me holding my breath and eagerly awaiting the next book, Rogue, due to be released in 2019. Just to whet your appetite there is a one page teaser for the next book at the end of Hive.

    An exquisite tale of a girl who asked too much.

  11. Wow! What an amazing book! I couldn’t put this book down. The story seems very simple but is actually quite complex, the story is centred around the main character and seeing her world from from her eyes. The story kept me guessing right to the end, with a few twists and turns in it. For a while I couldn’t work out if it was an alternate world within our world, a different planet, or simply a cult. The author did a brilliant job with the plot and character development, you feel the main characters confusion and terror throughout the story.
    It’s really hard to pinpoint a genre, apparently it’s YA although, as an almost middle-aged woman, I REALLY enjoyed it and am desperate for the sequel to come out.

  12. I found this book a bit weird at first, but I ended up loving it. Looking forward to reading the next one when it comes out next year.

  13. An interesting plot and storyline with well well delivered characters. A few twists in the story line that will leave you wandering. Ya but great for those readers who do like a well paced but easy read.

    A mixture of a few genres from my point of view. Science fiction – dystopian kinda feel to it .

    I enjoyed the concept that these people had made them all think that this is the only world existing and questions and things begin to unravel . A good build up of suspense, that will leave the reader eager to read on and find out more. The ending left us intrigued, eagerly awaiting book 2.

    A good mix of good and bad , the author delivers a thought provoking read that is entertaining and leaves the reader in thought as to what direction we will be taken !!

    Look forward to book 2

  14. Hayley follows the rules. She tends to the bees, and when a bee goes rogue, she captures it. Until one day, while following a rogue, she discovers a drip. The drip leads to lies, a death, a boy, a beast… and lots of questions.

    Hayley and her best friend Celia are gardeners, with Hayley working with bees. Her role includes chasing bees who go where they are not supposed to, and catching them to return them to the hives. The story is based in a very regimented community, comprising of a set of buildings connected via corridors. Every person is given a role within the community, including gardening, enginers and kitcheners. The elders are known as aunts and uncles.

    Hive is the first in a two-book series, and it ends on a real cliffhanger! I could barely put the book down. I found it really interesting to read about a world that is not my own, and A.J. Betts did a great job detailing the characters’ world in such a way that allows you to be transported in.

    This book takes you on a real adventure, even though it is centred in such a small world. There are different words for things, and it makes you wonder why there are different names and descriptions. The characters’ experiences are different from my own. But the way everything is described leaves you feeling like you are part of that world. I love all of the characters in this book!

    I really can’t wait for the follow up novel to be released!

  15. Not the usual genre of book that I would read but it kept me occupied for 3 or so days pretty easily..

    It is very cleverly written and you get engaged with it without even knowing. Great build up of suspense and can’t wait to read the next sequel.

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