7 Reasons Why I Disliked Netflix’s Interpretation of Watership Down

I’ll start off spoiler-free, then warn you before I get there in case you don’t want me to tell you things. I get it.

I’m not usually into tearing down the creative work of others, and I’m not comfortable publicly bashing books I hate. Because maybe someone else loves it.

But I don’t feel like Netflix is going to worry too much about my opinion. And I adore Watership Down, by Richard Adams. I was so excited for the new animated series. I love James McAvoy. And I thought that John Boyega as Bigwig was going to be gold.

Whenever screenwriters adapt a book into a movie or TV series, things will have to change. It’s open to interpretation, and as two different mediums, they have different strengths. I get that.

For example (not a spoiler), they had more female characters in the Netflix version, and these female rabbits had some agency. In the book, they stuck more to the way rabbits in the wild act. Female rabbits having agency is fine and doesn’t have to change the story in a significant way. That was a good change.

I just feel like the screenwriters didn’t get the original book. And my reasons are all spoilers, either for the book or the series. You’ve been warned. Spoilers below the picture.

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  1. All the rabbits fought with each other all the time. In the book, the rabbits bicker and fight in the beginning, but after they rescue Bigwig from the snare, they all acknowledge their strengths and start to act like a team. In the Netflix series, they continue bickering and acting like bratty children until the very end.
  2. Kehaar was a jerk. In the book, Kehaar is defensive and angry at first, making sure the rabbits know he can defend himself and is no one’s victim. But once he learns that he can trust them, he becomes an ally. He’s dependable, loyal, and helpful. In the Netflix series, he’s cagey and unreliable. I think it was supposed to be funny, but it wasn’t.
  3. Bigwig was a bro. Who was the version of Bigwig in the series? The best things about the Bigwig of the books is that he’s tough but with a kind heart. He might complain about things, but he’s always the first one to volunteer to do anything difficult. And even though he’s big and could overpower Hazel in a fight, he’s willing to acknowledge that Hazel is the better leader. But in the Netflix series, he’s always spoiling for a fight, challenging Hazel and basically flexing his big muscles. What a waste of John Boyega.
  4. They seemed dumb. The rabbits in the book came up with plans and executed them. They were organized and worked together. The rabbits of the Netflix series were always reacting with no real idea of what was next.
  5. Why was there all this romance?? I love romance, and most of my favorite stories have romance, but not every story needs it. They gave the girl rabbits more agency and larger parts, which is 100% fine with me. But why did they have to make it all romantic with these love scenes between the various rabbit couples? It struck the wrong chord with me. Watership Down is an adventure story, and while I could get behind some sweet nose touching or some subtle signs of affection, speeches about how one rabbit loves the other in the middle of gearing up for battle just seemed out of place. Not going to lie, I yelled at the TV.
  6. I didn’t entirely understand why they changed certain things. I get it, they needed to change some things because it’s a different format and the book is pretty long. But why did Buckthorn and one of the other rabbits (Dandelion? Bluebell?) argue with one another all the time? And why was Bluebell the storyteller instead of Dandelion? And why did everyone just impulsively do things, like go to the farm and others to Efrafa? Would it really have made it that much longer for them to take a moment to plan to do it like in the book? What purpose did those changes serve to the story they were trying to tell?
  7. The ending didn’t do anything for me. Hazel died… so what? Now, maybe this is because I was mad at the rest of the series, but the ending just fell flat for me. I was so irritated by it that I took out my book and read the epilogue to my husband, who got a bit teary-eyed and agreed that the book version was much more touching.

This could have been something amazing, and they totally missed the mark. I’m so sad about it, but the writers didn’t seem to understand the characters. I kind of wished I hadn’t watched it because it just made me sad and angry. I know movie versions of beloved books are often not as good, but it doesn’t usually make me feel like this.

Did you watch the Netflix series? What did you think?

5 Reasons I Don’t Like Hardbacks (And One Reason I Do)

IMG_9156When I used to work in mobile crisis, we periodically had downtime. One day, when my partner was out for the day, I worked with an older guy. When he asked if I wanted to go to a bookstore, I couldn’t say “yes!” loud enough.

We ended up in this dim, narrow bookstore which mostly had hardback books. It smelled the way old bookstores should: book glue, dust, and leather. This guy explained that he liked this store because they had so many hardbacks, and he could get them “wrapped.” As in, wrapped in some kind of plastic to preserve the cover.

I was perplexed. This might be a naive thing to say, but I didn’t think people voluntarily bought hard backed books. I thought people only bought hardbacks when they couldn’t wait for the paperback. And in the Kindle age, even that’s not necessary.

Another friend of mine prefers hardbacks because she likes to keep things neat and new-looking, and hardbacks are easier to do that with. I suppose I should be a good supporter of other authors and buy the hardbacks, but I’m just not into them. Even if I find a cheap copy of something I want at Goodwill, if it’s in hardback, I’ll probably pass.

  1. They take up too much room on my bookshelf. I only have a limited amount of space, and I want to maximize the number of books they can house.
  2. They’re too big/ bulky/ heavy. Hardbacks are heavy! I have to hold them two-handed, which is annoying, since I like to read when I eat, am in the bathtub, sometimes when I’m outside playing with the dogs. Plus, hardbacks weigh down my purse and make it feel like I’m carrying bricks.
  3. The paper cover! Do I leave it on and let it get raggedy? (I’m really hard on books) Or do I take it off, likely put it in a safe place (so safe I can’t find it) and then lose it?
  4. I have to wait. Or buy it twice. I wanted to buy Our Dark Duet when it was released back in July, but I have This Savage Song (the first in the series) in paperback. Since I prefer series to match, when possible, I knew that no matter how I bought it, I was going to have to re-buy it in paperback. The library wouldn’t get it quickly enough to suit me. So… I went with Kindle. It doesn’t take up any room on my shelves, and I won’t have to get rid of it when I buy it in paperback.
  5. They’re not recyclable. This isn’t a huge issue for me because the idea is that I’ll keep my books. But I know, from reading bookstore blogs, that sometimes they throw out books because there are just too many of them. The DaVinci Code and Twilight come to mind. (I’m not hating on either of these books; I just remember the article identified these two as ones they get too many of.)

A caveat:

Hardbacks are more durable. They’re normally made from better paper, and the binding is put together better. So, if I owned my collection in hardback, I wouldn’t have tape holding together my copies of Watership Down and Lightning (by Dean Koontz). I actually own Harry Potter and most Dean Koontz books in both hardback and paperback for that reason.

Are you Team Hardback or Team Paperback?

B is for Bigwig

IMG_8307.JPGHello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z! Thanks for stopping by.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

I love the book Watership Down, by Richard Adams, about a group of rabbits who travels from their home when one rabbit prophecies a disaster.

One of the characters I’ve always been most interested in is Bigwig. Of all the characters, he has what I believe is the biggest character arc.

He goes along with the main characters, Hazel and Fiver, partly because he believes in the prophecy, but partly to escape what he believes is unfairness and favoritism. At first, he’s kind of a bully at times, short-tempered and sharp-tongued. For him, life is black and white.

As the story progresses, he’s shown to be brave and kind. He might bully someone who annoys him, but he also protects the weaker. He complains at times, but he does the job. He’s honest, acknowledging when someone helps him, but his honesty also means that he says things that are hurtful at time.

There’s a scene early on in the book where he’s hurt and almost dies. I cringe every time this scene happens (and I’ve read this book many times), and wonder how different the book would have been without him. I can’t even imagine it.

That’s a good character.

Who’s your favorite character in Watership Down? And if you haven’t read it, what are you waiting for?

To Buy or Not to Buy… That is the Question…

img_6614Actually, even though the title of the post is to buy or not, that’s not really the question.  The question is whether to keep them once bought.

I’m a little bit of a hoarder.  I know people who change out their wardrobes seasonally, and have no trouble getting rid of old clothes, but I figure that if I buy it, I should keep it.

That’s why I have thousands of books.  Literally, thousands.

I try not to buy books.  I really try.  I use my local library for both ebooks and paper books.  But when I buy a book, I prefer to have the physical copy.

When I was attempting to shelve my huge collection, I started giving a lot of thought to clutter, and how much I hate it.  I started to really think about why I own so many books.  I haven’t read all of them.  Some of them were given to me by people who know I like books.  Some of them are well-loved books I’ve read a million times or might read again.  So, how do I decide which stay and which ones go?  I’ve made up a few rules.

If it has sentimental value.  My grandfather didn’t read many books, but he read and loved Marley and Me.  I enjoyed that book too, but even if I didn’t, I’d still own a copy.  It always makes me think of him.  And fairy tales make me think of my grandma.

If I’m going to re-read it.  I’ve read Watership Down more times than I can count.  So much so that I recently had to buy a new copy, as my old one was falling apart.  I love books that bear those kinds of marks of how well-loved they are.  My copy of Pride and Prejudice has post-it flags stuck in my favorite parts, so if I’m having a bad day, I can visit my favorite parts of the story and get a quick mood boost.

If it’s a classic.  I’m working my way through many of the classics, and even the ones I didn’t like, I’m keeping on my shelf.  I figure that it it’s stood up that much over the years, I may want to revisit it at a different point in my life.  I tried reading 1984 for the first time a few years ago, and though I recognized that it was a good book and I should like it, I just couldn’t stay interested.  Two years later, I picked it up and sped through it.  What’s going on in my life absolutely affects what I read and how I perceive it.

If it’s a “reference” book.  This is kind of a tricky one.  I write speculative fiction, so having books full of ghost stories, myths and legends, on my shelves is good practice.  I never know where I might find inspiration.

I haven’t read it yet, but I plan to.  I’m a sucker for used bookstores.  Sometimes I just have to pick something up because it looks good, but then I don’t get to it for awhile.  I’m okay with that.  But there are some books that I’ll probably never get to, and I need to learn to let them go.

These rules are flexible and subject to change.  But I’ve already taken two boxes of books to my local Half-Price books, and it feels good to know I’m reducing some of the clutter.

Do you buy books or get them from the library?  How do you decide which to keep and which to get rid of?

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Here's a cat picture, for absolutely no reason. Photo credit: Doree Weller

Here’s a cat picture, for absolutely no reason.
Photo credit: Doree Weller

Once I read one book by an author, if I don’t like it, I’m unwilling to try another book by that author.

I know that’s unfair.  Dean Koontz is my all time favorite author, yet there are some of his books I don’t like at all.  Same goes for Stephen King.  Though I loved Watership Down, I’ve never read another Richard Adams book.

So, I know authors can be hit or miss.  Not every book that a good author writes will appeal to me.  But my gut reaction to reading other books by the same author is “ugh, no.”  On the flip side of that, I’m more likely to stick with an author I know I like, even if the book isn’t filling me with joy.  Remember I mentioned Dean Koontz?  I read all his books, whether I love them or not.  I’m loyal like that.

Because of my book club and various book challenges I’m participating in, I’ve actually been reading more different things, and it’s a good thing.  I’ve found some new books I’ve loved, and some I most emphatically have not.  But it’s always good to try new flavors and textures to expand my palate.  Plus, there’s something invaluable about being able to discuss books with other people.  I’m not surrounded by very many readers, and discussing a book as if it were real, critically analyzing character development and the events that surround them, is stimulating and allows me to see the book from other perspectives.  That alone will push me to finish a book I otherwise may not have.

How about you?  Are you willing to give an author another try?  Or are you like me, telling an author, “I’m just not that into you”?

S is for Stories

So many books!  They're everywhere.

So many books! They’re everywhere.

For me, it’s all about the story.

I don’t care what you’re talking about: books, movies, people.  I love a good story.

I’m more liberal than most people about what makes a good story.  I don’t really care if there are plot holes or if the story has been done before.  I just care about how well the story is told.  Ordinary can be interesting in the same way that extraordinary can be boring.

A lot of people complained that Avatar was a cliched story, but I loved it.  Even if it’s a story I’ve heard before, I liked the way it was told, and it had enough new and interesting elements to keep it fresh.  People complained that Twilight had poor writing, but if it did, I didn’t notice when I read it.  I was too drawn in my the story to worry about the fact that Bella and Edward have an unhealthy relationship dynamic.  The story was interesting and fun.

I like literature.  I like reading about psychological theories.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy things at the other end of the spectrum, and everything in between.  As long as there’s an interesting story, I don’t mind if it’s cliche.  I enjoy stories I’ve read before, and I enjoy reading them in different forms, from different perspectives.  But then, I’m also the person who can read the same book over and over again and still have emotional reactions to it as if I were reading it for the first time.  (Where the Red Fern Grows makes me sob every. single. time.)

Stories connect me to the past.  Growing up, I loved Cinderella and Snow White, and remembering those stories gives me warm memories of my parents and grandparents.  I love sharing stories (discussing books and movie plots) with other people.  We all see the same story in different ways, and it’s interesting to hear other people’s perspectives on a story.

I know people who love sitcoms and comedy memoirs, but it can be hard for me to get into those things because I feel like too often, they focus on the punchline rather than the story.  There are always exceptions, of course, but my favorite stories are the ones that make me feel deeply, that make me cry or touch my heart.  I love characters who feel so real to me that they become part of my life even after I’ve closed the book.  Harry Potter, The Fault In Our Stars, Watership Down, Me Before You, and Watchers are just a few of the books that made me feel this way.

What’s your favorite type of story?  Do you have a book whose characters feel like part of your life?

Watership Down- A Review

For Throwback Thursday, I review older books that are awesome.  ‘Cause if you can post a picture of you with that awful hair from the 80’s, I can certainly talk about a book that’s been around for awhile.

th-1Is there anyone who hasn’t read Watership Down by Richard Adams?

This is a book I can re-read over and over, and it just gets better every time.  This book is like spending time with an old friend.  I love all the characters, and I love following the adventures of Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig, and their band of misfits.

I first read this book when I was in 6th grade.  All the kids were on the waitlist to read this other book that was popular (I don’t even remember what it was).  When I added my name to the waitlist, the librarian handed me this book and told me to check it out.

No one believes Fiver when he predicts the destruction of his warren, and he and his brother, Hazel, decide to leave.  They invite anyone who wants to come along to flee with them, and a small band of misfits starts a journey into the unknown.  Along their adventure, they experience hardship and deception.  They make friends with creatures who aren’t like them, and find true bravery in themselves.  They learn to trust one another, and learn not to trust something just because it looks good on the surface.

Although the book’s main characters are rabbits, it’s not a children’s book.  This is a book that every adult should read.

Have you read Watership Down?  What are your thoughts?