Book Review: Watership Down by Richard Adams

I have to be honest I only read Watership Down now as an adult. I grew up watching the movie which left me an everlasting impression as a child. I remember feeling very concerned for all the animals and how they can survive out there beyond the walls of a home without food coming from a store (yes that was my view as a child) and without firefighters or basic understanding how roads and motor vehicles work (others like Alfred J. Kwak left me afraid of roads and their killing power). Nights and days went by me thinking how cruel the world was and how I should welcome all the animals to live with us in our home in my bed surrounded by central heating and just walk away from the fridge. Now after reading the book, those similar urges come back, but instead, I think humans should be locked inside their homes to stop them going out and poisoning the little bunnies and their friends and their habitats.

Watership Down is definitely worth to read. It is cruel, intelligent and heart-warming. Adams sprinkled the book with colorful old-timy legends giving the world and story depth. Along with legends Adams kept genuine facts about rabbits moving along the story, and I loved that. I liked the quotes at the beginning of every chapter wondering how they were ever allowed inside a children’s book. (Not saying that they shouldn’t be there. Enough children’s books are sugarcoated and softened with still containing full violence without consequences and check for reality.) I’m not sure if this book would be allowed to be published today, but it should. Like I said the movie left an everlasting impression on me. Think what this book might have done: how it might have shaped my future actions and even my profession.

However, all the praises said. There were times when the reading was tedious as I knew what would happen. Not a surprise there as the book is written for children. But interesting characters kept me turning pages. Another concern I had with the book was the strength of Hazel’s and Fiver’s friendship didn’t stay as strong towards the end as I would have liked. But the central conflict and Adams ability to write about different kind of societies and leadership styles (from hierarchical structures to pampered societies to police state to Hazel’s more equal run society) made up the book’s other failings.

About the criticism the book has received, the lack and narrow roles given to female characters. Yes, it is a shame, but I wouldn’t pass the book because of it. There are so much important elements in it to be read or heard.

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