Book reviews / Fantasy

Book review: Watership Down

Well, it’s been awhile since I read a book from the list as I’ve been busy reading other things.

Anyway, here goes. So the plot is that a bunch of rabbits leave their warren after the urging of one of the rabbit’s having a vision of disaster befalling it. After a long arduous journey, they are ultimately validated when the rabbit that tried to stop them from leaving their original warren in the first place shows up and speaks of the entire disaster.

However, these rabbits have no does (they’re all boys) and so 2 different ways of getting does occurs, leading to a mini-war between a warren ruled by a tyrant.

So I guess there’s 2 ways you can kind of look at this – there are a bunch of rabbits and the story is fine and that I shouldn’t look at it through the lens of feminism and all that. However, once you anthropomorphize a bunch of rabbits into having thoughts, feelings, wants and meglomania (in the case of 1 particular rabbit) then….well…I think it’s fair game.

I think the story is lovely, it takes some time getting into because they are rabbits. They also keep telling stories about a rabbit like god I suppose, which gets a bit old. The depressing thing is then that basically, it’s a story for boys. All the interesting stuff is done by boys and the does are just a symbol of a thing they want. They are only central to the story because the boys need them but they does don’t really have any agency or personality. You really get a sense of Bigwig, Fiver and Hazel but none of the does.

Also, they don’t matter compared to the bucks – like this particular gem. One of the newly liberated Efrafa does is liberated but then gets eaten by a fox:

I don’t remember, I’m afraid. But I don’t see that any of us could possibly have known, what’s a doe more or less? p. 428.


It feels weird talking about a book being sexist when all the characters are rabbits, but then why would you write a book with a bunch of sexist rabbits? To be fair, I don’t know how rabbits act in the wild, but I’m pretty sure that also goes out the window with the aforementioned anthropomorphism and psychic powers. So yeah, it fails the test.

Anyway. I guess it’s good? It’s all rah rah environmentalism which is in its favour, I suppose. Shame about the sexism and weird psychic powers. Ho hum. 3/5 stars.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s