Review: Watership Down

As assumed, I finished Watership Down this weekend. Hooray for me! I am proud to finally be able to say that I read it. It feels like a big accomplishment, and I hope that feeling continues throughout this whole process. Now that it is complete, I would like to give my full review about the novel.

I had written last week that the beginning was a little slow going. I find this common in a lot of novels, so I didn’t let myself get discouraged. Sure enough, about a third of the way through, the story really starts to pick up. The rabbits have traveled to Watership Down to make a new warren (that’s basically an apartment complex, in non-bunny terms). The plot mostly involves Hazel’s group and their interaction with two other warrens of rabbits. I won’t go into too much detail about the other two warrens, since that is one of the interesting things about this book, but it is worth noting there is an extreme difference between the two. This helps add depth to the cast of characters by showing their reactions to each warren. Bigwig was by far my favorite character. He has such a big personality and comes off as kind of a brute, but I found myself laughing at his comments.

I mentioned briefly before about the culture Adams has given to the rabbits. This comes mostly from the stories about El-ahrairah, the “Prince with a Thousand Enemies,” the rabbit folk-hero. While I enjoyed the stories that were told throughout the novel, mostly by Dandelion, the placement of some of them seemed to only slow down the main plot. Despite this, it adds another level to the characters.

Along with the folktales, Adams worked in a small amount of new language. The rabbits used their own words in referencing certain things, such as “silfay” when speaking about going out of the warren to feed on the grass. At first I occasionally checked the glossary in the back of the book, but it was eventually one of my favorite things about the novel. In particular, when Bigwig flings a curse at another rabbit using a string of these words.

While I would like to say that this novel is an allegory or that there is some deep meaning behind it all, I don’t think I can make that leap. Sure, there are parallels between our world and theirs, and there are many comments and observations about man from the animal point of view (the men constantly have “white sticks” in their mouths). But I feel like this should be taken for what it is. A heartwarming and motivating story about a group of friends trying to survive and have a better life.

I definitely recommend this novel. It is not for everyone, I realize that, and I am sure I cannot convince people to read it based on the fact that it is a classic. But, I strongly advise you to give it a try. It is worth the read. Oh, and fear not, the “sad ending” that I had been so fearful of, wasn’t as sad as I was led to believe.

After completing Watership Down on Friday, I was at a loss for what to start reading next. I have such a wide selection, and so many to choose from, that I thought my mind was going to explode (or implode, mostly because I just like saying that word). James (my fiance) told me to start reading “one of those Lord of the Rings books you have,” which is in reference to the many books I own by Tolkien. It made me realize that there are going to be a lot of books on my shelves that some people are just going to have no interest in. But, I have come to terms with that. Maybe I can even get some people to like them! And for the record, I have already read The Lord of the Rings, so fret not!

I wanted to garner interest in the blog, so I am staying away from some of those books for now, and I will cross that bridge when I come to it. Instead I have chosen The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. I have already started reading, and I feel like this one will go much faster, so I plan on talking more about it in the next post.

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2 thoughts on “Review: Watership Down

  1. I love watching the movies after I have read the book. It is always interesting to see if the director’s vision matches what I imagined when I was reading the book. Maybe I will do that this week if I can find it.

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