Cannonball Read V: Watership Down by Richard Adams
As far as reviewing it....I'd almost say I'm not qualified, but that would be easy and unfair to anyone, myself included. The writing is simple and vivid. Every scene is painted in strokes that can be quickly visualized. The characters, too, are sharply drawn and tidy. Everything fits neatly within the framework of the story and its larger picture. You never once forget that they are rabbits, animals with an alien view and reaction to the world, and yet they are made sympathetic enough that you can (hopefully) understand their fears, struggles and triumphs. Individuals together can accomplish amazing things is also a central theme, and one that likewise influenced my thinking for years to come. Heady stuff for a teenager.
The story also made me reflect on my theological beliefs as well. In the rabbit's world, everything is out to get them. Everything could be a risk or an enemy, and that's a cornerstone of their psychology. I'm not, and have never been, a religious person by any means, but reading this book also made me understand the reassurance faith can have for those in difficult circumstances. Given that I've gone to religious schools all of my life, this was an eye-opener. In essence, this book awoke my empathy for other people to a large extent. It also made me want to live underground, but that's probably not a common reaction.
Watership Down is at the top of my book recommendation list. I push it (gently) on anyone I meet who I think would be interested. I've reread it multiple times and never gotten bored or disappointed, the way you do when you come back to a favorite to find it's changed for the worse after time. Perhaps those old feelings and revelations are coloring my view of it. Possible. But I'll still maintain it's a great read, a classic, and will put it up against anything else.
(A fun note I did not know till later: all the geography is accurate and the paths and landmarks described can be found and walked.)
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