I was given an advanced review copy of this work to review. The YA novel is a sci-fi adventure in which a young man named Jason must help fight a race of giant, interstellar wasps in order to save Earth. The bottom line: Sometimes humorous, sometimes terrifying, and always imaginative, this high-tech, interplanetary tale will keep you buzzing through page after page. You will never look at bees the same way!
In fact, as I’m writing this review, I am watching a handful of carpenter bees ravage my wooden deck, and it’s actually making my skin crawl. The story follows a race of giant bees—bigger than humans—with their eyes on Planet Earth. The most terrifying is the General, a nightmarishly huge wasp bent on destroying humans.
The story is full of technology—the humans have advanced from our present-day technology, but so have the bees. They have sinister technology, characters, and motivations that underscore the novel with a tone of foreboding dread: The Death Watch, the Eternity Drive, the War Machine, Death Rays, and the deadly General. Even in the story’s lighter parts, these threats are constantly in the background, giving the reader a sense of urgency. Still, not all the bees are bad, and I enjoyed the more light-hearted interactions Jason has with the friendlier apians and was touched by some of the more poignant moments as well.
I also enjoyed the themes running through the book: Jason and his father are firm believers in the possibilities offered by education and science. Through the conflict with the bees, they risk their lives to use science to help the Earth. Another theme the author makes us question is the nature of humanity. Though under attack by a horrendous race of bees, some of the humans are still sticking to their own factions, valuing loyalty to individual countries rather even over loyalty to the human race as a whole. As a music lover, I also liked how Jason links music and science, and uses music to his own advantage in a way reminiscent of Dune. And suggestions about the nature of the Bees’ history and the nature of magic versus science was intriguing as well.
I enjoyed the story overall. There are places where the imagery truly carries each scene (descriptions like “blood orange light” stress the sinister intentions of the bees). My one wish was to be just a bit deeper inside some of the character’s heads before all the storylines come together. Still, I enjoyed the use of future slang; and overall, the suspense of the story carried the writing, making this a page turner and a quick read.
I recommend this book for fun-loving sci-fi fans, apian lovers, and readers liking a multi-cultural examination of the way we humans live, and can live, in this world.