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Monster Paperback – December 14, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Monster" is what the prosecutor called 16-year-old Steve Harmon for his supposed role in the fatal shooting of a convenience-store owner. But was Steve really the lookout who gave the "all clear" to the murderer, or was he just in the wrong place at the wrong time? In this innovative novel by Walter Dean Myers, the reader becomes both juror and witness during the trial of Steve's life. To calm his nerves as he sits in the courtroom, aspiring filmmaker Steve chronicles the proceedings in movie script format. Interspersed throughout his screenplay are journal writings that provide insight into Steve's life before the murder and his feelings about being held in prison during the trial. "They take away your shoelaces and your belt so you can't kill yourself no matter how bad it is. I guess making you live is part of the punishment."

Myers, known for the inner-city classic Motown and Didi (first published in 1984), proves with Monster that he has kept up with both the struggles and the lingo of today's teens. Steve is an adolescent caught up in the violent circumstances of an adult world--a situation most teens can relate to on some level. Readers will no doubt be attracted to the novel's handwriting-style typeface, emphasis on dialogue, and fast-paced courtroom action. By weaving together Steve's journal entries and his script, Myers has given the first-person voice a new twist and added yet another worthy volume to his already admirable body of work. (Ages 12 and older) --Jennifer Hubert --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up-Steve Harmon, 16, is accused of serving as a lookout for a robbery of a Harlem drugstore. The owner was shot and killed, and now Steve is in prison awaiting trial for murder. From there, he tells about his case and his incarceration. Many elements of this story are familiar, but Myers keeps it fresh and alive by telling it from an unusual perspective. Steve, an amateur filmmaker, recounts his experiences in the form of a movie screenplay. His striking scene-by-scene narrative of how his life has dramatically changed is riveting. Interspersed within the script are diary entries in which the teen vividly describes the nightmarish conditions of his confinement. Myers expertly presents the many facets of his protagonist's character and readers will find themselves feeling both sympathy and repugnance for him. Steve searches deep within his soul to prove to himself that he is not the "monster" the prosecutor presented him as to the jury. Ultimately, he reconnects with his humanity and regains a moral awareness that he had lost. Christopher Myers's superfluous black-and-white drawings are less successful. Their grainy, unfocused look complements the cinematic quality of the text, but they do little to enhance the story. Monster will challenge readers with difficult questions, to which there are no definitive answers. In some respects, the novel is reminiscent of Virginia Walter's Making Up Megaboy (DK Ink, 1998), another book enriched by its ambiguity. Like it, Monster lends itself well to classroom or group discussion. It's an emotionally charged story that readers will find compelling and disturbing.
Edward Sullivan, New York Public Library
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Monster
  • Paperback: 281 pages
  • Publisher: Amistad; Reprint edition (December 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064407314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064407311
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (910 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Walter Dean Myers is a New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed author who has garnered much respect and admiration for his fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for young people. Winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award, he is considered one of the preeminent writers for children. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, with his family.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#92 in Books > Teens
#92 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 69 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
My parents courted by playing the "first line" game. One person says the first line of a favorite book of theirs and the other person guesses the piece of literature quoted. "Monster"'s first line is a doozy, and I doubt anyone, once hearing it, could do anything but guess its title correctly.
"The best time to cry is at night, when the lights are out and someone is screaming for help".
So writes Steve Harmon, the sixteen year-old accused felon and hero of this story. Myers adeptly creates a new form of fiction in this Printz winner of a book. Finding jail too painful to endure, Steve recounts his life and court appearances by styling his journal in the form of a movie. The title of this movie "Monster" refers to a statement made by the leading prosecutor about Steve, the defendant. Falsely accused of aiding and abetting a robbery and consequent murder of a local drugstore and its manager, Steve recounts his current status, his past hopes and dreams, and the pain he must endure day to day. Kids reading this book might have some difficulty grasping exactly how this book's protagonist is connected to the murder. Certainly there isn't a detailed description of the extent to which Steve was connected to the killers in the neighborhood. But Myers gives his readers a lot of credit, believing they'll figure out what's going on, on their own. Steve's experiences in jail are a pared down version of the t.v. show "Oz". There are several references to sexual assault, in addition to violence and some mild language. I wouldn't be handing this book to your five-year-old but for any kid that's curious about jail or being "tough", this book can do you no wrong.
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89 of 102 people found the following review helpful By John Zittel on December 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Steven Harmon was only a lookout in the four-person holdup of a drugstore, but during the robbery attempt the store owner was killed. Steven wasn't even IN the store at the time of the murder. How guilty does that make Steven? Does his participation make him a MONSTER? That is the question left up to the jury in this courtroom trial. While the book in made up entirely of the trial, Myers uses mixed modes to depict the case. Steven, an aspiring filmmaker, records the trial's events as a screenplay, complete with close ups, reaction shots, and voice overs. Between scenes, we read Steven's handwritten journal about the case and see his fears of prison life and apprehensions about the proceedings in court. Mixed in are photographs of "Steven" in anguish. I found the telling of the story to be riveting and I feel it would provide terrific discussion in a classroom, perhaps 9th grade. Not only must we judge Steven's guilt, we also judge others involved and learn about the justice system in all its glory. By the time the novel ends, we feel as if we've been with Steven the whole time, and know we would never want to experience these events. It makes us consider peer pressure, the choices we make, the integrity of people, and different degrees of guilt. I enjoyed MONSTER very much and highly recommend it for personal use or with a class.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "matokie" on December 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Maybe I'm a little bit biased, being a staunch Walter Dean Myers fan...but my hope is that I can still review this book fairly so that you, the potential reader/purchaser of this book will know what they're getting into. "Monster" is a very moving novel that, although filled with raw emotion, does not come across as overly-mushy or overly abrasive. That it manages to be truly realistic and "gritty,"(which seems to be an extremely popular description) without being depressing is impressive enough itself.....but to top it off, Mr. Myers' latest book is also incredibly deep. We are actually given a glance into the very soul of Steve Harmon, (the authors protagonist)and what we see is amazingly human.....And very, very, rare. So, why only four stars?? Well, there ARE times where Mr. Myers gets TOO into his play of emotions....and the book gets a little bit over-baring. But hey, don't let that scare you off, it only happens once or twice and is soon forgotten. Over all, "Monster" is a very satisfying read. And for teens or adults that are conservative in what they read....there is nothing to balk at in this book. Oh, hey, it even has a moral!!
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A. Flores on December 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This novel really makes one think about society's view of young black men, and about young black male's preception of themselves. Why do good kids get into trouble? And why did Steve Harmon? What happens to good kids when they do get put into jail and they have to be with harden criminals-who do they become? MONSTER, brings these questions to light and there are no answers. But as a young hispanic female, recommending this book to a young african-american male is hard. One teen looked at me and looked at the cover and asked me if i thought he was a monster. Of course I do not. But I wish more than anything this young man would have picked up this book because I think that it would have helped him at looking at himself with the question Steve Harmon asks himself WHO AM I?.
I truly believe anyone who picks up this book will also ask themselves the same question WHO AM I? I know I did.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a very depressing book. It is a page turner and at some points it is a tounge twister. It was a good book and I reccomend it to young adults and higher.
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