- Series: Monster
- Paperback: 281 pages
- Publisher: Amistad; Reprint edition (December 14, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780064407311
- ISBN-13: 978-0064407311
- ASIN: 0064407314
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 991 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Monster Paperback – December 14, 2004
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"Myers grapples with complex moral questions that will definitely make readers stop and think."-- Booklist," Editors' Choice 1999The main character is a teenage boy accused of having participated in a crime that ended in murder, but the intriguing moral questions at the root of this award-winning book cross age boundaries."-- Booklist" April 1, 2000
From the Back Cover
FADE IN: INTERIOR: Early morning in CELL BLOCK D, MANHATTAN DETENTION CENTER.
Sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I'll call it what the lady prosecutor called me ... Monster.
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Walter Dean Myers used Steve's script as part of the story, which allows Steve to see himself as an observer as well as what he knows is true. Readers don't know if the allegations are true or false, although his white lawyer seems to think he's guilty. Steve isn't like the three others involved in the robbery/murder. He's thoughtful and creative with dreams beyond his Harlem neighborhood. He does seem to lack insight, if he's guilty of being the lookout.
Myers superbly gives readers messages, with subtlety. Where lesser writers tell, he shows through nuance. He makes me think and feel. In one of the most poignant lines in MONSTER, Steven muses that his younger brother can't visit him in the adult prison, and if he was not an inmate, he too would be unable to visit. That one sentence spoke volumes to me about the juvenile justice system and made my heart ache. Another strong moment was Steve's lawyer's reaction to the verdict.
MONSTER is an important story not just about justice, but also about race and judging young black men on stereotypes rather than as individuals.
A budding filmmaker, much of his journal is written in the form of a screenplay. In addition to documenting the trial, Steve includes flashbacks relating the events in the weeks leading up to his arrest. Through his writing, Steve attempts to negotiate his own identity with the perception of public, which has labeled him a ‘monster’.
Recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award, Monster was also recognized as a Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book and National Book Award Finalist. This is undoubtedly due to Myers’ ability to capture the complex character and feelings of Steve and reveal the flaws in a criminal justice system which relies on the dehumanization of the accused. Monster will leave readers wondering the impact of a single decision and questioning what it really means to be a good person in the real world.
Reviewed by Grayce Jones
For me, the appeal of this book lies with how the question of Steve’s innocence or guilt is intentionally ambiguous. Like the jurors, the reader has to weigh the evidence and decide whether Steve is innocent or guilty and if he is guilty, of what exactly? (The book does not go into as much detail about this, but it is set in NYC in the 90’s when Rudy Giuliani was the mayor known for being tough on crime. “Acting in Concert” clauses in the penal code meant that you didn’t necessarily have to be the one who pulled the trigger to be charged with murder.)
The book has a very unique and interesting writing style. The story is told from Steve’s point of view but the narration switches back and forth between a screenplay format and diary entries. It also switches between the courtroom, jail and flashbacks to Steve's childhood. The screenplay format can be distracting at first and takes some getting used to, but it actually is quite effective in conveying imagery and as his trial ensues, it adds to the the drama. Some parts of his trial are riveting and read like an episode of Law and Order and his diary entries from jail are very sobering. The awards and accolades that this book has received are well-deserved. This is not your typical "overrated/overhyped" urban fiction novel.