Review: Watership Down by Richard Adams

Fiver could sense danger. Something terrible was going to happen to the warren – he felt sure of it. So did his brother Hazel, for Fiver’s sixth sense was never wrong.

They had to leave immediately, and they had to persuade the other rabbits to join them.

And so begins a long and perilous journey of a small band of rabbits in search of a safe home. Fiver’s vision finally leads them to Watership Down, but here they face their most difficult challenge of all.


I love this book! I have this habit sometimes of checking out ratings and reviews on GoodReads about half way through a book, just to see if what others think match up with what I think. I know that might not be the best thing to do, it might sway my opinion, but it really doesn’t.

I found some reviews where readers had found it boring and one in particular had comments telling them it gets better towards the end. I agree with that to an extent because for me it was good in the beginning, not boring, and it really did get better by the end. Sort of like a locomotive in a way.

It’s interesting to read a tale like this, about survival, war, and life, and then think that these characters are all rabbits. Sometimes it was easy to forget, especially when they were going through some sort of struggle or action that you wouldn’t normally think of an animal, let alone a rabbit, in, then something would happen to remind you that they are in fact rabbits. I think of rabbits as cute little things and to picture them in these situations can be surprising. You don’t always think it will work, rabbits depicted and personified in this way, but somehow it does. It works beautifully I think, so much so that I feel Adams had a way of writing with this novel; a way to make things mesh that wouldn’t normally do so.

I also found some comments and reviews mentioning how often men are mentioned in the book, how bad they are, in such a way as to imply that Watership Down is overtaken with it. First of all, I didn’t find that to be so. I only found it to happen when the rabbits were in some sort of danger where men could be. The only time that it really hammered in that men were bad regularly was in the opposing warren that the rabbits come across.

Secondly, these are rabbits. Wild rabbits. I think Adams has done a great job when it comes to personifying them and showing the very real dangers and threats wild animals face through their life span. For those who don’t like how much that is pointed out, I don’t know what world they’re living in, and really their missing the point. In some ways it is not aimed against humans, but humans are there because that is a real danger to rabbits and if you’re reading a realistic novel with humans as the main character, what’s their threat going to be? Viruses and serial killers and what have you that can very well end in death. The dangers are all very real; it’s really just a different face placed on them.

I don’t know if I got my point across and of course there is more to the story, it does go deeper than that, but I’m not one of those people to sift through everything. This is some of what I have taken away though in response to other’s opinions of it.

As for the ending, I really enjoyed it and I think it could have gotten away without an epilogue, but at the same time I really like the epilogue as well, it just didn’t feel necessary because it felt like two epilogues really. Oh well, maybe that’s a good thing for those who can’t get enough of the story.

The only problem I do have with this book is that in the beginning, not even 100 pages in, I’d decided I must have a pet rabbit and name it after one of the characters (I’ve actually wanted a pet rabbit for years so it’s not exactly a new thing) and by the end of it I wanted a whole bunch of rabbits! And if that’s the only problem I have with it then there is nothing to whinge about and I highly recommend the read.

  • Genre: Allegory
  • Demographic: Meant for a younger audience, but I feel it’s more an adult allegory. Great for those who appreciate a different perspective, but in all, like survival stories.
  • Format: Paperback
  • Rating Out of Five: 5
  • Challenges: Off The Shelf!

11 thoughts on “Review: Watership Down by Richard Adams

  1. It’s amazing, isn’t it? Trying to describe Watership Down to someone who hasn’t read it is hilarious – “Well, it’s about these PSYCHIC BUNNIES…no really!”

    In particular, I loved all the stories about El-Ehrairah! They were all so clever and entertaining. Watership Down is like a strange little world of its own – I adored it and wish I’d read it earlier. Yes, I read t in my twenties, so what? AND we had a pet bunny at the time! His name was Godzilla…

    Ps – Fantastic review, Bonnie (c:


    • Haha yeah, I didn’t think of the psychic bunny line. I might have to go try it out on people when they ask me about it, just for the laugh. I’ve only thought of ‘it’s about rabbits and it doesn’t involve ships’ so far. Lots of people seem to think it is either a warship or naval story, I’ve noticed.

      I loved those stories too! It’s great how they weave in with the main story as well, matching in with the current situation, enhancing the main characters, and showing perspective on character behaviour and what’s going on. It would be nice to have a book of those stories all by themselves.

      Aw that is so cute! A little bunny named Godzilla… What inspired that name?

      Thanks Michelle, and thanks for stopping by.


  2. I absolutely love this book and I’m reading it for the fourth time now! I think this review fits the book perfectly and people should not take it so seriously. Humans just happen to be part of the rabbits’ enemies. This story started as a story he told to his daughters on road trips, not as something aimed to give humans a bad name!


    • I didn’t know that’s how it came about. I love learning things about book origins. Thanks for sharing that Cassie and yes, people need to stop taking it so seriously or at least look a little deeper or in a different direction instead of only picking up on that.

      Maybe they also need to get over themselves a little bit too.

      Thanks for your comment Cassie.


  3. This is the same reaction I had when I first read the book. I think I read it three times straight through, again and again, when it first came out in paperback. I was the young reader I think it’s aimed at.


    • That’s good to know that it has that affect with it’s intended demographic. I should probably stop trying to think how my nieces and nephews would react when reading something like this.

      Thanks for stopping by too.


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