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Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Monster (original 1999; edition 2001)

by Walter Dean Myers

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,0582501,853 (3.67)1 / 52
Authors:Walter Dean Myers
Info:Amistad (2001), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 281 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Crime, Innocent, Adolescent

Work details

Monster by Walter Dean Myers (1999)


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"The best time to cry is at night, when the lights are out and someone is being beaten up and screaming for help."

This is what 16-year old Steven Harmon is thinking as he lies on the cot in his jail cell, awaiting trial for murder. He may or may not have been involved in a drugstore robbery that ended with the murder of the owner. He is terrified of being in jail and of the possibility he may have to spend the next 25 years in prison. To help himself cope, he is writing down everything in his notebook in screenplay format. The novel covers the trial and ends with the verdict.

Without spoiling the story, I can tell you that I walked away at the end not knowing for sure if Steve was guilty or not. I can say that I felt a strong connection to Steve and that I wanted him to not be guilty. I felt sorry for his innocence and for the fact that he grew up around criminals. Just being acquainted with these people put him in a bad position. The author clearly portrays the fear and anxiety that Steve is feeling. Being trapped and being out of control, relying on his attorney, the jury and the judge to decide the rest of his life... As Steve says, many times, he is not a bad person, he is not a monster.

Can I say WOW! This story drove home the point that one small event or one small error in judgment or even being in the wrong place at the wrong time or being "friends" with the wrong people can change your life forever. Reading this book could be life changing for young people.

This is my daughter's summer reading assignment. She is going into 8th grade. I really hope she gets as much out of this book as I did.
( )
  Jadedog13 | Feb 3, 2016 |
Monster is a novel written in screenplay language. Steve Harmon, a 16-year-old black boy, is accused of taking part in a crime that involved the murder of an old man. The story is mostly told in script and cinematographic language, but it also includes "journal entries" written by Steve himself. This book offers interesting insights into human nature and the environment of prison. In the end, whether he is innocent or not, Steve realizes that every person has the potential to be a monster lying inside of them--all they have to do is let it take them over. Sometimes the worst thing a good person can do is let bad things happen. ( )
  AngelClaw | Feb 3, 2016 |
The story that Walter Dean Myers tells in this novel—a young black teenager is arrested in connection with a robbery/murder in Harlem, claims his innocence, and goes on trial—is not new. The manner in which he tells it, however, is.

The narration in “Monster” takes the form of a screenplay written from the point of view of Steve Harmon, the 16-year-old on trial. Although the bulk of the story is related through un-editorialized dialogue and descriptions of camera movements (close-ups, long shots, etc.), the narration of Steve’s trial is interwoven with photos and passages from the journal Steve has been keeping during his time in prison. While the trial provides the typical suspense of courtroom drama and grapples with the question of Steve’s innocence, Steve’s journal provides the reflective soul of the story, for in his journal Steve struggles with questions of his identity and his uncertain future.

The gripping plot and Myers’ strong, clear writing endow the novel with a breakneck pace (I read the entire thing is just a few hours). “Monster” is a lightning bolt of Young Adult fiction—fast, strong, and devastating. ( )
  jimrgill | Jan 30, 2016 |
This is a very raw and real look at a minor in prison, written for the YA crowd. Written in an intriguing screenplay-manner, it is easy to read and provides a clear mental image of what the author, the young man on trial, is going through.

I liked his viewpoint of the effects of his arrest and trial on the attorney, his mother, and especially his father. It is a real look at the consequences of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. I highly recommend this book. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
planned on skimwitting but ended up reading it for real because got it good! These started as 1 1/2 stars and became 3 stars. it became a mystery in a way did he or didn't he? i thought he did.
also his fear and his questioning of whether or not he was a monster really started to interest me. ( )
  kdf_333 | Jan 17, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Walter Dean Myersprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Myers, ChristopherIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To John Brendel for his long friendship
First words
The best time to cry is at night, when the lights are out and someone is being beaten up and screaming for help.
I think I finally understand why there are so many fights. In here all you have going for you is the little surface stuff, how people look at you and what they say.

I am so scared. My heart is beating like crazy and I am having trouble breathing.

I want to know who I am.

...what did she see that caused her to turn away?"
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Book description
I appreciated this story, and think it is a good read for young adults. I also think this book has the potential to bring in young readers who may not be that interested in reading. A big idea around the story is decision making and consequences which easily opens up discussion. Additionally, the story is presented and the reader reaches their own decision which would foster debate and interpretation skills within the reader.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0064407314, Paperback)

"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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:56 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

While on trial as an accomplice to a murder, sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon records his experiences in prison and in the courtroom in the form of a film script as he tries to come to terms with the course his life has taken.

(summary from another edition)

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