A phenomenal worldwide bestseller for over thirty years, Richard Adams’s Watership Down is a timeless classic and one of the most beloved novels of all time. Set in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of friends, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.
I just don’t get it.
As of today, Watership Down has an average of 4.03 out of 5 from 228,847 ratings on Goodreads. Did we read the same book? I really don’t get it. I would even be hard pressed to finish reading this book if I read it aloud with my children. That may be the only way I would finish this book. Or maybe if I was on a stranded island and this was the only book I had.
The writing was good but the story was so stinking boring. Under normal circumstances, I give a book 100 pages before I give up. There are some exceptions. I didn’t get into Game of Thrones until about 150 pages. Another exception is my 2013 New Year’s Resolution to read/ revisit the classics to see if age and maturity makes a difference. The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye led me to believe age does not make a difference with me and sadly, so does Watership Down. My copy is 475 pages long and I made it to page 214. More accurately, I forced myself to read until page 214, at which point I just couldn’t do it anymore. Life is too short.
This book is really about rabbits. I was thinking maybe it was a metaphor or something. I am into apocalyptic fiction so I thought maybe this is a bunny apocalypse, you know, man infringing on nature… that sort of thing. While I guess that could be the case, but it was so stinking boring I never cared enough to even entertain the idea.
Add to that the pellets. There are several references to eating pellets. Let’s go eat pellets. Then it dawned on me that they were eating their own poop. I found it a bit disturbing that they would so casually discuss eating their poop and do it together, like at a bunny dinner table, i.e. the lawn. So I brought it up in an online discussion. It turns out, the pellets are pre-poop and rabbits have to eat them or they will die. Sort of like birds regurgitating food and then eating it again. So my next logical question was, do the pellets come out of the mouth or the butt? They come out the butt. I understand the rabbits have to eat them. Still… ew.
Then there are the rabbit legends. The rabbits have a story teller with them who tells stories of the first of their kind. Think Adam and Eve for rabbits. Anyway, this first rabbit is mischievous, always trying to outsmart the great maker in the sky. There are these grand, intricate schemes in which this rapscallion outsmarts the maker in order to steal cabbage, or something or other… sounds interesting, right? Wrong. I guess if you’re a rabbit these stories would be interesting. I am not a rabbit.
Wow. 475 pages of mind-boggling boring. Okay, 214 pages of mind-boggling boring because I gave up. If you have read my review of The Great Gatsby, you know how much I hated that book and think it should be burned because it is criminally boring. What is worse about Watership Down? 295 pages.
Reviewed by Christina Galvez
January 25, 2015