Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book Review: The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell

Fifteen year old Marnie and her sensitive younger sister, Nelly, have just buried their parents in their backyard.  They are the only ones who know what caused their deaths, and they both know that they can't tell a soul.  It's hard enough to keep anyone from finding out that they are living alone, but their neighbor, Lennie, has started asking questions.  And his dog won't stop digging in the garden.

I was seriously impressed by the writing in this one, particularly as it's a debut.  I loved the way the author combined the darkness of the story with darkly comic moments.  Marnie and Nelly are intensely lovable, as is Lennie.  Marnie in particular was a striking character.  O'Donnell does a great job of slowly revealing just how damaged she is, continuing to shock the reader with each new revelation.  At the same time, you can't help but love her and sympathize with her.

Entertainment Value
This is one that you'll be tempted to neglect your responsibilities for.  I couldn't stop reading it.  And at approximately 300 pages, it's possible to read it in just a sitting or two.  It's very smart, but also very readable.  I thought it was clever, funny, touching, and intensely disturbing at parts.

I definitely recommend this one.  It's a great coming of age story that manages to be original and capture a unique voice.  My one word of caution would be that the content is at times hard to read, especially given the age of the narrators.


  1. We are definitely book twinsies! This is also on my to-be-read list. I started reading Pretty Girl-13 last night. Ahhh, so good. I stayed up till 11 reading it. Hopefully I will finish tonight. I am not usually a fan of dark YA books, but I think both of these have good stories to tell.

  2. I'm going to have to add this one to my list, thanks!

  3. I've got a copy of this one waiting for me to read so I was excited to skim through your review. It sounds interesting so I'm definitely going to have to find the time to read it sooner rather than later :)

    Irene (Bear Hunts in Alaska)