This was my first time reading Watership Down, and I didn’t know too much about it before I began reading except that it was a story told from the perspective of rabbits. I’m glad I finally read it, and I enjoyed it, but I was never enthralled by it. It was easy for me to put down.
The book starts off with a rabbit, Fiver, having a premonition that something horrible is going to happen to the warren where he and his brother live. His brother Hazel has learned that Fiver’s instincts about danger are usually correct, so Hazel does his best to help Fiver convince the chief rabbit that all the rabbits need to leave. Without any tangible support for their argument, the chief doesn’t take them seriously and is quite annoyed at being disturbed with such nonsense. A handful of rabbits decide to leave anyway, and the story is about the adventures they have after leaving as they try to make new lives for themselves.
Somehow I’ve gone through life without having much exposure to rabbits. I’ve seen a couple wild rabbits here and there at a distance, and I’ve occasionally seen fuzzy, rabbity lumps not doing much of anything (understandably) in tiny cages in pet stores, but that’s about it. When I was about halfway through the book, it finally occurred to me to look up rabbit videos online. That was nearly as entertaining as kitten videos, and searching for some specific things (fighting, thumping) helped me better picture some of the action in the book.
There really weren’t any major twists or surprises in this story. At least, not in my opinion. I felt like everything that happened was easily predicted by common sense, if not hinted at by the author well in advance. The string of adventures sometimes felt a little tedious to me, but there were also times when I was pretty well entertained by it. It also took me quite a while to warm up to the characters, but I did feel fairly attached to some of them by the end.
There’s an anthology associated with this book, Tales from Watership Down, but I’ve decided not to read it.