"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
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7-12-Walter Dean Myers' novel (HarperCollins, 1999) is brought to life by a full cast of actors in this excellent audio interpretation. The author opens this audiobook by discussing many of his interviews with young prison inmates and his desire to discover what drives them to a life of crime, what makes them become monsters in society. From the outset, listeners are caught up in Steve Harmon's life as he documents the events for the film script he is writing for his high school video club. Was Steve actually the lookout in a robbery gone awry in which a man was murdered, or was he simply at the wrong place at the wrong time? The suspense and tension remain high until the end when we are told whether the jury will find Steve guilty or innocent of the crime for which he is on trial. This auditory delight is presented in the clear, well-enunciated and articulated voices of a full cast of actors. The narrator, with his deep melodious voice, reads Steve's film directions and provides the quick scene shifts, guiding listeners through the story. His voice combined with the voices of the other actors, the strong plot, and the unusual story format grabs readers and holds their interest throughout. This interpretation could entice reluctant readers to become Myers' fans. Monster is a must purchase for all middle and high school libraries. English teachers should be encouraged to use this audiobook as a possible writing prompt or as an introduction to readers' theater.Lynda N. Short, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Lexington, KY
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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