Friday, September 21, 2018

Bambi - Felix Salten

Summary: Bambi's life in the woods begins happily. There are forest animals to play with -- Friend Hare, the chattery squirrel, the noisy screech owl, and Bambi's twin cousins, frail Gobo and beautiful Faline. 

But winter comes, and Bambi learns that the woods hold danger -- and things he doesn't understand. The first snowfall makes food hard to find. Bambi's father, a handsome stag, roams the forest, but leaves Bambi and his mother alone.
Then there is Man. He comes to the forest with weapons that can wound an animal. He does terrible things to Gobo, to Bambi's mother, and even to Bambi. But He can't keep Bambi from growing into a handsome stag himself, and becoming...the Prince of the Forest.

My Review: A friend of mine and I frequently talk about stories, and the story she constantly remembers from her childhood was Bambi.  It's been on my to-read list for quite a while, and she brought it up again the other day and I was in the mood for a good animal story, so I went to the library and picked it up.

I was always a fan of the Disney film, because I'm a fan of anything that's focused on animals.  And this isn't to slam on or say anything bad about the film, I think it's beautiful, but the book they based it on is vastly different.

What I liked was how real and raw it felt, obviously not like a nature documentary, as the animals were given some human emotions and speech, but it felt more real somehow, more dangerous and dark.

The characters are complex and intriguing.  From a fawn, Bambi is in awe of the old Prince, a seemingly phantom-like deer who rarely appears to anyone, but who Bambi sees on and off throughout the book.  This Old Prince, along with other characters, can be curt and standoffish with the animals in this book, a trait that is hard to relate to sometimes, especially when I've been raised to be polite and kind.  But as I read the book, I realized this was just survival, they couldn't always afford to be kind (there are moments where they are, just in general, it was a harsh world that they must be on constant alert and aren't always inclined to pleasantries). 

The foreboding character of 'He' (the humans) in this animal world was threatening.  'He' in this story is often only out for blood (though there is one exception of a human taking care of animals, which actually turns out to be a detriment later, unfortunately).  'He' is often spoken of as a dangerous bogeyman, though his threat and presence is all too real in this animal world.  Though I've never personally done it, I've nothing against hunting at all, and understand there is a place for it.  However, I didn't see this as anti-hunting at all, as the more I read, the more I found it to be simply a tale of survival above all else (the danger does not only come from 'He,' but from other places as well, even other deer).

Overall, it was a quick read, and I really enjoyed it, and it had some really interesting perspectives (including a fascinating chapter of two ripe autumn leaves contemplating existence).  Beautifully written.

My rating: 4 stars

For the sensitive reader: hoo boy.  If animal death makes you squeamish, you'll want to shy away from this one.  Deer are shot and animals are mauled and killed throughout the book.  Nothing on par with something like Watership Down, but still fairly violent.

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