“The Hive” is a slow but realistic take on social justice

"The Hive" by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden is a must-read as social media continues to grow.

While most popular dystopian books today either set the scene in a post-apocalyptic world or a lush fantasy-like atmosphere, ¨The Hive¨ by Barry Lyga and his wife Morgan Baden does neither, instead painting the picture of a world very similar to cities all over the world today.

The main difference between the world of “The Hive” and today is the introduction of BLINQ, a new social media platform centered around social justice and condemning people for the things that they say online. On the BLINQ app, everyone condemns comments they view as bad, leading to the person with enough condemns triggering the system and beginning to be targeted. The mob decides the punishment of the person condemned and then finds them and administers the punishment themselves. No law enforcement of any sort is ever involved in Hive justice.

Egged on by friends she has made at her brand new school, main character Cassie makes an unkind joke online and overnight goes from being just a random unknown person to the most hated person in the entire country. Forced to go on the run to hide from the people trying to persecute her with Hive justice, Cassie questions the system she has believed and participated in her whole life, as well as all the people around her, as someone keeps giving her away.

The Hive displays reality unflinchingly.”

“The Hive” displays reality unflinchingly. In the very first scene of the book, there is a mob gathering and Cassie goes to join it. The scene displays how cruel Hive justice can be, as the target had done something wrong, but the way people were treating him was unfair, with the hashtag #monsternotaman trending and the punishment that was delivered. From this very first scene, Cassie questions Hive justice, and even before she is sentenced by it herself she wonders about whether it really is a good way to punish people for their online actions.

The end of the book is packed with action, with the characters constantly on the move and information being quickly revealed.”

My main critique of the book is that the plot moves a little slower than I expected; the end of the book is packed with action, with the characters constantly on the move and information being quickly revealed, but the beginning moves very slowly to get to that point. The book is centered around Cassie getting condemned on BLINQ, but that doesn’t even happen until around page 100 out of nearly 400 pages total. The first quarter of the book is mostly exposition and set up, and while that might work for some books I don’t think it quite works here.

Another critique of the book is how the romance is presented at the end of the book. Cassie meets the person she ends up with at the beginning of the book, but he is not very involved for the majority of the story so I don’t think that the plotline is necessary or adds anything to the book. I believe that the novel may have been better off without it.

Although I do have some critiques, I believe that “The Hive” is a solid book that everyone should read. The book does a good job warning of what our future could be like if social media got out of control. The characters throughout the book do not feel as involved as the ones of other similar books, but Cassie moves quickly between locations and is constantly meeting new people, so I think that more character development in characters other than Cassie would have just dragged the book out and made it move slower.