First: This is not a review (well, that’s not my intention at least). I feel any attempt to write anything resembling a review will be futile. I will say that I really enjoyed reading it; I mean, I bought it today and finished today – even with an 8 hour work day cutting into precious reading time. On more than one occasion I laughed out loud, and multiple times I felt my blood boil; and that’s all I have to say about it.
I know some people are in two minds about reading it; I myself was until I read the First Chapter when it was released late last week. But should you read it? Do you want to read it but worry it won’t live up to the expectations? I can maybe help you with those questions!
Because I love talking about books and this is obviously a major bookish event, I had to write something about it (because Internet + human = opinion), so I thought I’d make some notes for those people who are uncertain about reading it, and those people who are so excited about it that they might be setting themselves up for disappointment (we can’t have disappointment). So read on (or not), and if you do decide to read it (or have already), I’d really love to hear your thoughts on it. I need to talk about it soooooo bad.
REMEMBER THAT THIS WAS WRITTEN BEFORE TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
This was Harper Lee’s first novel (unless there are some other floating around we don’t know about), and no matter how hard we try, the first attempt at anything is never perfect. This book isn’t perfect (is any though?), and probably the best parts of Go Set A Watchman, are those moments when Scout Finch is reflecting on her childhood, so it’s no surprise that Mockingbird was set in this time of Scout’s life. That’s not to say the rest of it is poorly written, it’s just not as good as Mockingbird.
I think people are blustering into this book expecting too much of it – hype will do that. Chillax people. Read it for what it is – a piece of literary history that we are lucky enough to witness. And whether you enjoy the book not, it’s fantastic to see a book trending on all the social media that isn’t one released by a reality star/YouTube star/anyone with a computer and web cam.
DON’T GO INTO IT EXPECTING TO READ A SEQUEL
Because it’s not, you guys. The events in Watchman do not, I repeat, do not precisely match those of Mockingbird. Think of it more as a companion novel. Think of it, as a novel that just happens to be set some time after the first with a bunch of the same characters. So anyone who was thinking of reading Mockingbird as a refresher, you don’t really need to. But then, it’s an awesome book so there’s no harm in reading it again. Furthermore…
YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE READ TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
This point is handy for the handful of you who might want to get on the hype of Watchman, but think they can’t because they haven’t read its predecessor. Happy days! You can jump right on that bandwagon. There’s absolutely no reason Watchman can’t be considered a stand alone novel, and it should be treated as such (see the above point about it not being a sequel). In fact, I would wager that anyone who hasn’t read Mockingbird and reads Watchman, will then probably want to go read Mockingbird. Which you should because it is as amazing as lots of people say it is.
So you can basically:
FORGET EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER READ BY HARPER LEE
Easy to do as you only need to push that one book from your mind. Watchman is not what people will have been expecting; I know it’s not what I was expecting. It will probably challenge just about every fond memory you have of Mockingbird and really that’s a good thing, because it’ll get you thinking about the story and the characters in a different light. Don’t be scared off it by the critical reviews.
Ok, discussion! Are you like me and already finished? Do you want to chat about it (I know I do!)? Leave your thoughts in the comments section, spoiler free if possible. If you haven’t read the book yet, maybe don’t read the comments just in case.