Friday, April 4, 2014

Book Review: Watership Down by Richard Adams

I had never heard of this book before randomly encountering this list of books to read in your lifetime. The list was compiled from the most common suggestions on Reddit, which to me gave it much more weight than any New York Times list - Reddit is filled with real people, nerdy people, my people :) My husband is a big Reddit fan just to give you an idea, lol. This list is one of the better ones I've come across, so when I noticed it mentioned Watership Down by Richard Adams, I decided to give it a whirl.

Watership Down is a story about rabbits. Hazel and Fiver are brothers an done day Fiver has a sort of vision that something bad is coming and they should leave. Their warren leaders do not agree, so Hazel and Fiver along with a few other friends go off on their own to find a new home, not really knowing why but trusting in Fiver's premonition. Hazel inadvertently becomes their leader as they traverse miles of English countryside in search of a place to call home. They encounter many hardships and enemies, none worse than specific groups of other rabbits. Once they settle and start their own warren, they realize that they have no women with them, so they start searching. They enlist the help of a wounded bird to circle the area and find a very large warren with lots of females, so they make the trek to see if any of their women wish to join them (a normal rabbit practice apparently). This one seemingly normal action begins a war between the warrens and turns to a fight for survival.

That was an extremely watered down synopsis of this wonderful book. I knew nothing about this story going into reading it and I was really impressed with how "ageless" the story is, and by that I mean it's a story that all ages can appreciate. The rabbits all behave in their natural sphere, but they have reasoning and thought like humans which really pulls you into the story. The rabbits have customs and government and religion (complete with stories of their Gods that explain different aspects of their life). The introduction by the author at the beginning really gave a great perspective for me. He explains that he never intended this book to amount to anything. In fact, he came up with the story on the fly while on a long car trip with his daughters, lol. He eventually wrote it down just for the benefit of his children having it, and it turned out to be a best seller! The book is constantly analyzed for its political and social messages, when in reality that was never the author's intention. When this book came out in the 1970s, it was regarded as a classical epic and seemed to hold similar standing to Tolkien's stories. Over time, we seem to have just forgotten about Watership Down, which makes me really sad because it was an excellent story. I will definitely keep the tradition of Watership Down alive with my kids when the time comes :)

Even though it felt silly to tell other adults that I was reading a book about bunnies (lol), I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. It's a family friendly story that doesn't talk down to you. It may be about rabbits, but it really does break down the struggle of a people against a tyrannical force. This book truly deserves all the acclaim it received and should be revived for our coming generation!


  1. I hope you know that there is an animated movie of this book. It is wonderful and beautiful and you should DEFINITELY see it! The artists then used their drawings to create a picture book too.

    1. Awesome! I saw that they made one in the 70s and I really want to see it. I checked Netflix but it's not on instant watch, so I plan to check the library, lol.


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