I really hate it when people comment on something like a book or movie when they haven't even seen or read it themselves. And reviews are so subjective, inevitably influenced by the writer's own tastes or outlook on life. But I was already worried about this "sequel" to arguably the most beloved American novel in history from the get go. You know what they say. "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is." What were the odds that another novel as inspiring as TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD existed out there, undiscovered in the world, by the nation's most reclusive and least prolific author?
It would seem the odds remain extremely low.
The consensus appears to be that this novel is a first (and rejected) draft of TKAM. A draft that showed promise mostly in the flashback scenes of Scout's youth. As the story goes, Harper Lee's editor helped nudge the author to a seemingly massive rewrite that changed just about everything this original draft was into the classic so many know and love. My books have first drafts also (and I'm not comparing myself to Harper Lee), but my first drafts aren't good. Getting a story down in its initial form is one of my least favorite parts of writing because, invariably, it's going to pretty much suck.
You should have seen the first draft of this article. Barely readable.
I suspect this novel is a like the thing Edison made just before he managed to cobble together the light bulb. Probably some shadows of the greatness to come, but ultimately not something anyone should rely on to turn night into day.
Not wanting to spoil anything for those of you who plan to read this book, let me just warn you: Based on what I've read about it, get ready to be disillusioned. Some may feel the story arc of this book is a welcome departure from the idealistic themes of the original. I would say, "The original novel is no fairy tale itself." But at least there is hope, and heroes, and a feeling that mankind's better inclinations will eventually win the day.
Having written a book that I hold dear in my heart, I feel I owe Ms. Harper Lee some allegiance in this pivotal moment in her career as a writer. There are certain authors and even bands that when they release something, I buy it, sight unseen. Doesn't matter what I've heard about it, I just get it, to support the artists who have provided me in the past with art that enriched my life and broadened my view of the world around me.
As for Ms. Lee, I will support her the best way I know how. I will not read GO SET A WATCHMAN, and hopefully by doing so, preserve, at least for myself, the impact of one of the greatest novels I've ever had the pleasure of reading.