The Book I Want If I’m Stranded on a Desert Island

I write edgy fiction for young adults. Real issues. Real problems. So why are my favorite books steeped in fantasy?
I’ve always been an avid reader. When I was a kid, I read the same books over and over (Bambi, by Felix Salton; The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis), but these days, I’m a little more diverse in my tastes. In fact, there’s only one book I go back to again and again—the amazing and wonderful Watership Down by Richard Adams.
For those Watership Downof you who don’t know, Watership Down is a book about rabbits. And yes, I know how that sounds. But what if I told you the rabbits talk? Sound even worse? Yeah, it does to me, too.
And yet, there’s something about this book. Heart-warming, brutish, heroic. A band of rabbits goes on a quest to find a new home after one of the rabbits sees a terrifying vision in blood. It’s said to be a book for children (I first discovered it at my school library in seventh grade), but its depth transcends most children’s books. This is a story about survival, escape, courage, and the terrible inhumanity of humans.
Not convinced? What if I told you it’s an epic adventure with in-depth world-building and amazing characters? Hazel, the level-headed leader; his brother Fiver, who sees terrible visions; astute Blackberry, whose cleverness saves the rabbits’ lives; and strong, hot-headed Bigwig (my favorite character), who starts off as somewhat of a thug, but by the end, would die to protect the others.
Here’s an excerpt from the synopsis on the first-edition hardback (which I own, of course, along with the paperback and e-book versions): “The heroes of this tale are animals—wild rabbits. Their behavior is consistent with the laws of nature, yet each is endowed with a blood-and-gut personality that is unforgettable.”
Unforgettable. So true. But also a story I want to relive over and over.
I write contemporary fiction, mainly because, throughout my life, I’ve had to deal with some pretty tough issues that inevitably come out in my writing. So maybe Watership Down is my favorite book because it’s a perfect allegory for courage and fortitude in the face of devastating circumstances.
Or maybe it’s just a really good book.
If you’ve read Watership Down—even if you didn’t like it—I’d love to hear from you.

Melody Maysonet

Melody Maysonet has been an English teacher, editor, columnist, and ghostwriter. A self-proclaimed geek, she loves reading fantasy, but prefers writing edgy, real-world fiction—as evidenced by her first novel, A WORK OF ART (Simon Pulse), which received a Starred Review from Kirkus, won the 2016 Hoffer Award for best fiction, and was named a Best Book of 2015 by YA Books Central.

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