The Constant Rabbit
By: Jasper Fforde
My Rating: FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS
Best for: 16 and up
Satire is an art form. Done well as a novel, it’s like getting two books in one: there’s the story you read, and then there’s the story you’re meant to understand. One entertains, and the other teaches. Or educates. Or informs. The very best? They can make you laugh and make your world bigger at the same time.
I’m going to say The Constant Rabbit up there with the best. Jasper Fforde’s 2020 lockdown pet project is excellent, and deserves a spot next to history’s favorite satirical novels, including Animal Farm, Slaughterhouse-Five, and 1984. If you know Jasper Fforde, you’ll know he’s the best at writing absurd, quirky stories that are great fun, and The Constant Rabbit might be the oddest yet. But…this weird story might actually be his most real.
In the 60’s Rabbits (and a smattering of other animals) suddenly and spontaneously became humanized. It’s known as The Event. They became human sized. They walked on two feet. They could talk. It’s a miracle! Amazing! Welcome to humanity! Fast forward to today, when The Constant Rabbit is set. The super fast breeding cycle of rabbits has created a whole lot of talking rabbits. And that’s set us up for some very interesting societal problems for us humans…
If all you are looking for is a quirky story about human sized rabbits and their fight for acceptance of their place in a world of humans, you’re going to enjoy this book! All the absurdity you can imagine is there–rabbit culture, rabbit food, rabbit burrowing, rabbit mating habits (!)…it’s all present and fodder for some good laughs. Jasper Fforde just writes absurdity and expects the reader to go along with it–and it works wonderfully.
But if you look for more, that’s there too. Pay attention to that moment when you’re laughing at a funny joke about how humans treat rabbits–because it really is absurd–and then realize it’s not really a joke about rabbits at all. And suddenly it’s not so funny anymore–instead it’s a sobering reminder that maybe we humans aren’t quite as open and accepting as we like to congratulate ourselves for being. One lesson I learned from The Constant Rabbit is standing against the ugly doesn’t mean temporarily changing our profile picture and keeping quiet. Actual action is required.
“I could have done more earlier, and of my own free will. But I didn’t.”
“You did something, said Connie. “Incremental change comes from incremental action.”
“Incremental is enough?”
“It’s the most most people can do. We’re not all revolutionaries, but enough people challenging the problem can make a difference.”The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde
A book that entertains me is a winner. I appreciate a book that makes me think. A book that does both? Now that’s a true treasure.
There are a few swears in The Constant Rabbit and jokes about rabbit mating habits. No significant violence. Best for 16 and up, and I’d love to see this book added to an High School AP Lit class.