Monday, July 27, 2015

Review: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Read from July 19th - 20th, 2015.

(Source:  Purchased.)

As a huge fan of To Kill a Mockingbird, I was so excited when I heard about Go Set a Watchman.  However, after hearing that this was never intended to be published, and that it only had the tiniest bit of editing, I was wary when I picked it up.  I didn't allow myself to have high hopes, and therefore, I wasn't disappointed.  

I think I should preface this review, for those who aren't already aware, with just a little background information as I understand it.  This isn't a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, as some have claimed.  It is set after the events in To Kill a Mockingbird, but it's definitely not a sequel.  It was written first, but Harper Lee was advised that a story about Scout as a child would work better, and that's when she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird.  It was great advice, and I'm glad she took it.  To Kill a Mockingbird is a masterpiece, and it's considered a classic for a reason.  

On the other hand, it's obvious that Go Set a Watchman is not a polished and completed novel, and I'm glad I kept that in consideration as I read it.  I think it's important to note that, again, Go Set a Watchman was not originally meant to be published by Harper Lee.  If anything, I would consider it a very early rough draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, which, in essence, is what it is.  Some parts of the book - especially character descriptions - are repeated word for word in To Kill a Mockingbird.  If I hadn't just finished rereading To Kill a Mockingbird before starting this book, I probably would never have noticed those instances, but as it was still fresh in my mind, those passages stuck out.  And that, more than anything, showed me that this was, indeed, an early version of To Kill a Mockingbird.  Though an early draft from Harper Lee is still better than some books that are published today.  

Beloved characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are altered in Go Set a Watchman, or missing entirely, and I was already heartbroken by page 13.  No spoilers here, but I literally had to put the book down and walk away while I processed what I had just read.  

I did enjoy this book, but I appreciated it for what it was (an unpolished novel from a wonderful author), instead of what it wasn't - a sequel to one of the best books ever written.  If you remember that, and don't go in expecting a masterpiece, you won't be disappointed.  

Rating (out of five stars):

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