Review from first reading, finished September 7, 2009 (I didn’t realize until today that I must have read this in the first weeks after my son was born. Strange that I don’t remember that connection):
OK, so I’ve avoided this book up to this point in my life because I’m not that into rabbits. But somehow this ended up on my to-read list and I picked it up at the library last time I went. Tell you what…this book is incredible. The book jacket put it up there with Tolkein, Lewis, and Carroll, and I heartily agree. Adams did an excellent job of showing the growth of the characters over the course of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it and looking forward to the next time I’d get to pick it up. I even found myself answering, “hrair,” when my husband asked me how many of something we had (he doesn’t speak Lapine, though, so I had to translate).
Review from second reading, finished October 8, 2013:
When my eight-year-old started getting into Erin Hunter’s Warriors series about battling cat clans, I felt compelled to introduce her to Watership Down. So, every day at lunch (and often at dinner, too) I’ve been reading Watership Down aloud to her and her four-year-old brother.
My son could pretty much take it or leave it. The most he’s said about the book is when I said, “Okay, let’s read some Watership Down,” and he said, “And after this can we read Watership Up?” Which is funny, but doesn’t really indicate that he’s been paying very close attention to the story. Oh, except for the part where Frith blessed the rear-end of the rabbit because that was the only part showing at the time. My son loved that part.
My daughter enjoyed the story a lot. She asked me to read much more often and for longer stretched than our schedule allowed. She would look through her field guide to wildflowers while I read and show me the pictures of the plants that matched the names of the rabbits.
And I loved the book as much as—or perhaps even more than—I did the first time I read it. Once again, I was delightfully surprised at how immersed I became in the story. On my morning walks, I found myself wondering if I would see rabbits at morning silflay (and when I didn’t I wondered if they were scared away by the hrududil that were doing utility work at the bottom of the hill).
This time around I was struck by the idea that the Black Rabbit of Inlé, when he comes, will come as a friend and companion. The rabbit for whom he comes will know him and follow him without fear. It’s a comforting thought.
At times while reading the book I felt a little self-conscious when I realized how emotionally invested I was in a novel about rabbits, but that self-consciousness wasn’t enough to pull me out of the story. I don’t cry at books very often, but I admit to getting choked up when I read the epilogue of this one.
Adams did an incredible job on this novel. I expect to be reading it again.