Latest Book Summary & Questions

In June, we read a novel of eco-speculative fiction from Finland called, The Blood of Angels (view on Amazon).

The majority of the book club discussion occurs in our online book club where we generally post 2 questions a day for 5 days at the end of the month. However, we also welcome discussion online here.

For reference, we've included a summary of the book below as well as all of the questions used for discussion. Beth & Mia alternate the choice of country & write up of the book summary. They each contribute approximately half of the discussion questions.

BOOK SUMMARY 

In the near future, Colony Collapse Disorder (a catastrophic phenomenon occuring when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear & leave behind their queen) has triggered the disintegration of the US & China agriculture industry causing widespread food shortages for both people & animals. A funeral home owner & amateur beekeeper named Orvo is horrified to find Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has spread to his hives in Finland while he also deals with the death of his son, Eero. An eco-warrior & blogger for an extremist animal rights group, Eero has been killed by his grandfather's henchmen hired to stop Eero & the Animalist Revolutionary Army from setting the cattle free at the family's abattoir (slaughterhouse).

Questioning his own sanity, Orvo discovers that the disappearing bees are not dying, but taking flight to the Other Side, a future world which has become pristine filled with happy bees, no pesticides & no factory farms. When touching any of the dead queens left behind from his collapsed hives, Orvo is able to travel to this world through his barn. With the deceased Eero at Orvo's funeral home, Orvo places one of the dead queens into Eero's mouth which allows Eero to live on in the Other Side. While Orvo desperately wants to live in the Other Side & be with his son, he realizes this will place this future, pure world at risk. Determined to save his son & the Other World, he kills all of his hives & burns his barn to the ground.

Told from the perspective of Orvo interspersed with Eero's blog posts about animal rights, the novel explores the affects of CCD & factory farming while reveling in the wonder & legends surrounding bees.

Main Characters

  • Ari: Grandfather of Orvo. Owns an abattoir (slaughterhouse). Hired henchmen to stop Eero & the Animalist Revolutionary Army from setting his cattle free. He escalates the situation telling the henchmen to teach Eero a lesson which results in Eero's death.
  • Eero: Eco-warrior & blogger for an extremist animal rights group called the Animalist Revolutionary Army. Killed by his grandfather's henchman while out on a raid to free the cattle at his grandfather's slaughterhouse.
  • Orvo: Narrator & father of Eero. Eschewed the family slaughterhouse business & became the owner of the Port of Departure, a funeral home. Amateur beekeeper tending hives left to him by his grandfather, Pupa. 
  • Marja-Terttu: Ex-wife of Orvo. Mother of Eero.
  • Pupa: Grandfather of Orvo. Amateur beekeeper.

Book Club Questions

  1. Beth: On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest) did you like this book? Why or why not?
  2. Mia: Before the book, were you aware of the impact bees have on our food supply? Do you think that we are at risk for food shortages from Colony Collapse Disorder like in the novel?
  3. Beth: Did the book alter your perception about the food you eat or animal rights?
  4. Mia: Women are rarely mentioned in this book. What message was the author was trying to convey by not developing female characters?
  5. Beth: Have you read speculative fiction before? Did the author handle the transitions well moving among fiction, fact & fantasy?
  6. Mia: Eero was an angry animal rights activist/eco-terrorist in the Animalist Revolutionary Army. Are his views or actions justified by the world he was living in? What character had the most influence on Eero's views?
  7. Beth: What are your thoughts on the use of blog posts as a literary device?
  8. Mia: Was this book more about family drama or eco-drama? How did you see them relate to one another?
  9. Beth: What was your favorite bee fact?
  10. Mia: Did this book make you feel like you were distinctly in Finland? Why or why not?