Young Adult Book Review – Hive

This book by A.J. Betts is included in the Notable list for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year Awards – Older Readers.

Cover Image for Hive

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.

This book, by Perth author A.J. Betts, is from our YA collection but is definitely suitable and recommended for adults too. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as did my son. It is rare to read a dystopian YA book set in Australia and I am excited about more familiar environments in the sequel. 

Hayley is the central character of Hive. She is a teenage girl living in a closed community where everyone has their assigned jobs, arranged “marriages”, and prescribed beliefs. Curiousity is discouraged and questioning the rules is considered a sign of madness. When things happen that do not fit the teachings Hayley has received, she doesn’t know if she is going mad, or if there is more to the world than her hexagonal hive-like home.

The writing in this book is excellent. There are lots of short sentences, reflecting the confusion Hayley feels. The descriptions of her world bring clear images to mind, and would convert well to a movie (fingers crossed…). The characters are well-written and I liked the way the story focusses on the young people. We know there are many adults living in the hive but they are very much minor characters in this book.

Hive ends on a cliff-hanger so I am really looking forward to reading the sequel, Rogue, when it arrives at the library in July!

Did you know… that A.J. Betts will be at Supanova in Perth this year?!


HIVE is a book about a girl (Hayley) who tends to bees. But when she feels a drip, her whole life changes.

Hayley gets “headpains”, but she needs to keep them a secret, as headpains are considered a sign of madness, and madness is feared by all. Her friend, Celia, tries to help her as much as she can by growing feverfew, but what Hayley finds helps her pains the most is being in the “way” (an alleyway) between the engine house and the abandoned service house, but she can only get there by lying about a rogue bee that she needs to catch, so that she is allowed to go through the engine house.

A. J. Betts is a master storyteller in the way she weaves this story, as she brings all of the elements together to leave a very satisfying ending and there are a lot of subplots throughout the story that are left open for the answers to be discovered in the sequel, ROGUE.

Reviewed by Harper (aged 12)


Click on the covers below to reserve other books by this author.

Book cover for Zac and Mia
Book cover for Shutterspeed
Book cover for Rogue