The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde
Publish date - 2 JUL 2020
Hodder & Stoughton
The most famous political allegory of fiction is George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’. The intense battle of pigs versus humans, eventual power struggle & murder with themes of class and social struggle, is very much a modern tale, a mere 70 years after publication. In this 2020 dystopian world of Trump, Farage, fake news, and social engineering, you can certainly vouch for impeccable timing by the publishers, but, is The Constant Rabbit any good?
Well yes, it is, in places.
The satire is decidedly sharp, and at times, it's very funny. The rabbits, following ‘the event’ of 1965, are anthropomorphic and are struggling to live side-by-side with humans in the present day. Peter Knox works for ‘Rabcon’ the government body (under the guise of working as an accountant) when in fact he’s a ‘spotter’. A talent that means he can recognize ANY rabbit (they all look the same of course), and criminalise them for an array of convictions. Peter meets an old rabbit female friend from his uni days, and being a rabbit sympathiser, he falls in love with her, she’s a spy, and the sinister world of mega-warrens, off-colony rabbits, and espionage are soon exposed.
It is a clever narrative and the influence of Otwell's '1984', juxtaposed with the weary world of modern-day politics, xenophobia, and immigration is very engaging. At times though, the characters are two dimensional, predictable, and to be honest, I struggled to finish it. Concluding with ‘the battle of may hill’ the book finishes climatically and history is changed. It is worth sticking with though, to see if the rabbits or the humans win?
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