Review: Watership Down

Watership Down
Watership Down by Richard Adams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This falls under the category of ‘I should have read this in school’. Watership Down was a Summer Reading choice when I was in middle school but with a title like Watership Down, I thought it was about sailing. If I’d known it was a tale of rabbits, I might have read it. If I wasn’t daunted by its size (back then I tended to choose my required reading based on size and that rarely worked out for me). Even after I learned that Watership Down is the story of a group of rabbits that bravely leave their burrow to escape an unknown danger based entirely on one rabbit’s faith, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What it is is an adventure tale filled with danger and suspenseful moments.
It is also a well-researched novel, full of facts about the nature of rabbits (and other creatures) and descriptions of their environment. Yet this attention to detail doesn’t make the story drag; they serve to make the story even more real. There are times, though, when it seems to be going by slowly despite the many thrilling predicaments the lapine characters find themselves in. Rather than being a flaw, I feel that this shows Richard Adams’s (RIP) mastery. With the steady stream of dangers, worries, and stories he somehow demonstrated how big the world seems to these small creatures with their many enemies (those they know and those they discover along the way). The main action of the story apparently takes place over a matter of days (a couple of weeks tops) rather than weeks or months and the ground they cover a matter of some few miles. Watership Down explores many themes that are still relevant today – faith, leadership, courage, the balance of nature, and the importance of cleverness and intelligence (as well as many more). I believe that this powerful book is important and will remain so as long as humans live alongside other animals and each other. For more information on the story and the journey of Watership Down, this site has a nice little run down and a map:…
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