Author: Richard Adams
Length: 481 pages
(My) Rating: PG
Watership Down is a fascinating and well-written story about a group of rabbits. Sounds dumb, right?
This story takes place in England, and the rabbits live within a warren. (As a side-note, European rabbits tend to live in large groups while American rabbits, specifically the cottontail, prefer to be solitary and are aggressive toward other rabbits that they meet.) One rabbit named Fiver receives a vision that something bad is coming to the warren, and prophet-style, tries to warn the other rabbits that they need to flee. Only his brother, Hazel, and a few other males, who are already discontent with life at the warren, listen.
This group of rabbits journeys across the countryside to a place that Fiver can see in his mind. Along the way, they encounter many dangers, but eventually they reach their goal. This is not the end of the story, for the rabbits discover that they have completely forgotten that they need females in order to establish their own warren.
The process of seeking female rabbits puts them in direct confrontation with a dangerous, nearby warren. The rabbits have to prove that they are courageous and clever before they can overcome their greatest adversary.
Richard Adams has woven an incredible tale that forces the reader to either forget the rabbits aren't human, or forget that the reader is not a rabbit. At the same time, he does a great job of not over-humanizing the rabbits. They have a distinct culture and are very realistic. For a person who loves animals as much as I do, I really felt that Adams did his research into the behaviors and characteristics of rabbits.
Adams provides theological background and traditions for the rabbits that kept me entranced and added an extra layer of depth to the story. There is plenty of action and adventure, and the you can't help but cheer for the rabbits as they think of clever ways to outwit their foes.
This is one of the few books I've read where the main character wasn't my favorite character, but I blame the influence of my older brother for that. He loved Fiver, and I did too. He is a fascinating character and prophet figure. There are many interesting characters in this book, but one of the best is the villain.
Overall, there isn't much that I've found to complain about in this book. If you have no interest in animals, this probably isn't a book for you, but I would recommend this book to any animal lover. For sheer length, it probably is best not to give it to children younger than twelve, but I read it in 6th grade and have loved it ever since.
There is a cartoon based off of this book, but it is NOT for children. It is violent and confusing unless you have read the book.
On my scale, this book is probably PG.
There is a few minor swear words (mostly from a seagull), and some violence. Rabbits do fight and die. There is no sexual content.