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Monster by Walter Dean Myers
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Monster (original 1999; edition 2001)

by Walter Dean Myers

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2,7942282,090 (3.68)1 / 43
ydestura's review
Monster is a young adult drama-novel by Walter Dean Myers and published by Harper Collins in 1999. While on trial as an accomplice to a murder, sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon records his experiences in prison and courtroom. In this novel he tries to come into terms with the course his life has taken. Steve Harmon is accused of acting as lookout for a robbery that left a victim dead; if convicted, Steve could serve 25 years to life. Although it is clear that Steve did participate in the robbery, his level of involvement is questionable, leaving protagonist and reader to grapple with the question of his guilt. An amateur filmmaker, Steve tells his story in a combination of film script and journal.
Myers combines an innovative format, complex moral issues, and an intriguingly sympathetic but flawed protagonist in this cautionary tale. The “handwritten” font of the journal entries effectively uses boldface and different sizes of type to emphasize particular passages, but makes the novel hard to read. The film script uses movie script jargon, such as camera angles (CU, POV, etc.), and explains each term when they first appear. Myer’s son, Christopher provides the black-and-white photos, often cropped and digitally altered, that complement the text. The script and journal create a fascinating portrait of a terrified young man wrestling with his conscience. The tense drama of the courtroom scenes will enthrall readers and question the complex morals in the novel. Descriptions of the robbery and prison life are realistic, but not overly graphic. The subject matter is more appropriate for high-school students because of the portrayal of violence, such as prisons, fatal shooting, murder, robbery, etc. Grades 9-12
  ydestura | May 20, 2012 |
All member reviews
Showing 1-25 of 228 (next | show all)
So I confess, I read this book because I encountered it on a list of book someone felt young people should not read (because of the references to violence and prison rape, apparently). As I'm a little rebellious, I took note of the titles which sounded particularly dicey and requested this one from the library. After finishing this book, I must say that I completely disagree with the opinion that this book should not be read. Monster chronicles a young man accused of a crime through the creative means of a diary and screenplay he writes about his trial. Yes, there is violence and rape in this book, but even more powerful is the critique of the social system - which might have been the real reason this book ended up on a Do-Not-Read List. On the contrary, I found it well-worth the read. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jul 27, 2014 |
Reread in 2014....can say it's any better. Checked it out from the library to read along with the African American read along for February....because I forgot that I had read it. This wouldn't typically be a "must reread!"

Read it as a potential to read with students...It's ok in that sense (the read with students sense)...but not life-altering.... ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Reread in 2014....can say it's any better. Checked it out from the library to read along with the African American read along for February....because I forgot that I had read it. This wouldn't typically be a "must reread!"

Read it as a potential to read with students...It's ok in that sense (the read with students sense)...but not life-altering.... ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Monster by Walter Dean Myers Illustrator Walter Dean Myers
Published HarperCollins Publishers, 2004: 281 Pages Realistic Fiction Harmon who is on trial for being part of a robbery and a murder. He writes down what is doing on as a movie screen, and writes journals as side notes. In the end he is found innocent but he still feels bad about what all has happened. I didn’t enjoy this book was not as light hearted and fun as the other books but I do believe it still has its place to teach a lesson in youth.
  joey_spencer | May 13, 2014 |
Bibliographic Information: Walter Dean Myers, “Monster”, Illustrated by Christopher Myers, Published by HarperCollins, ©1999, 281 pages
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Summary: Steve Harman is a sixteen black boy who is in jail for murder. He describes everything in a notebook set up like a film. He was supposed to be the guy that goes into the pharmacy and tell the guys if it was clear. In the pharmacy though he changed his mind and didn’t return the signal. He talks about what it is like in prison and describes how horrible it is. This book has multiple setting in court, in the cell, in a film class and etc. Steve ends up not being guilty but forever changed.
Tags: Prison, struggle, life, hurt
My Response: I really enjoyed this book for the story but not for how it was set up. I found it hard to read and follow along with. It was easy to read how we read it in class where everybody had a part. The way Steve describes prison is very vivid and scary. I know if students read this in high school or junior high they would probably relook at how they do things.
  EmilyBascio | May 5, 2014 |
Gritty and at times difficult to read, Monster offers a unique look into the judicial system through the eyes of a sixteen year old charged as an accessory to felony murder. The book's display of it, through screen writing and a diary format, is refreshing and adds to the realism portrayed. It also leaves characters up to interpretation and many things unclear in the reader's mind, allowing the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

The illustrations also help pull the story together, along with the mental images provided through the script format.

It was an easy read, taking me less time than normal, and although it was, as I've stated, difficult to read at times, one had to know how it ended, had to know whether he was found guilty or not guilty. Coming from a background in Justice Studies, the legal system was more familiar to me than perhaps to other readers and I could see how the arguments were going to proceed before they actually did. This tended to eliminate more suspense than I'd have liked.

All in all, it was a decent book, rather disturbing to be a young adult novel. ( )
  liveshipvivacia | Apr 26, 2014 |
Gritty and at times difficult to read, Monster offers a unique look into the judicial system through the eyes of a sixteen year old charged as an accessory to felony murder. The book's display of it, through screen writing and a diary format, is refreshing and adds to the realism portrayed. It also leaves characters up to interpretation and many things unclear in the reader's mind, allowing the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

The illustrations also help pull the story together, along with the mental images provided through the script format.

It was an easy read, taking me less time than normal, and although it was, as I've stated, difficult to read at times, one had to know how it ended, had to know whether he was found guilty or not guilty. Coming from a background in Justice Studies, the legal system was more familiar to me than perhaps to other readers and I could see how the arguments were going to proceed before they actually did. This tended to eliminate more suspense than I'd have liked.

All in all, it was a decent book, rather disturbing to be a young adult novel. ( )
  liveshipvivacia | Apr 26, 2014 |
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Title: Monster
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
No Illustrator
1999
281 pages
Literary Genre:
This book is about a guy named Steve Harmon who is on trial and for convicted of robbery, I think? Throughout the story he ends up not getting tried and gets set free.
I would not recommend this book. I have absolutely no fun reading it and at times thought it was hard to read. But others might be different and actually enjoy it and like it.
  MaeghanS | Mar 31, 2014 |
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Title: Monster
Illustrator: Walter Dean Myers
Publisher: Amistad
Date: 2004
Pages: 281
Type: Realistic Fiction
Summary: This book is about a young man named Steve Harmon who is on trial for acting in a murder. He writes down everything that happens to him during this trial and plans to make it into a movie once it is all over. He writes down everything that happens to him. He ends up being innocent and is set free. But even though he is free he wonders if people still see him as a monster.

I had a hard time understanding this book at first because it is made like a movie. But after I took the time to read through it carefully I actually enjoyed it. It is a great book, which lets the reader decide themselves if he is innocent or guilty.
  emfro20 | Mar 25, 2014 |
Title Monster
Author Walter Dean Myers
Illustrator Walter Dean Myers
Publisher Harper Collins
Date 2004
Pg Numbers 304

Realistic Fiction
Summary of main plot: This book is about Steve who is in jail because he took part in the killing of Mr. Nesbitt in the convenient store with two other boys named Bolden and King. This book Steve writes like a movie and he writes the book of what all he sees while in jail.
The content and theme of this book is a lot to do with the justice system and makes you think what is right and wrong in the justice system also. A tag and subject heading in this book that makes me think this is when Steve finally admits that he did go into the convenient store but before he said that he told the jury he didn't go into the store so he basically lied under oath. I think a lot of people thought he was guilty and that he didn't actually kill Nesbitt that the other two guys did until he wrote down that he was in the store.
My Response to the book: I liked the book I mean it was okay I am not really that interested in the whole justice system stuff but it was an okay read I thought. one thing I didn't like was the layout of the book the way it was laid out as a movie confused me while I was reading it but other then that it was alright. ( )
  Mihalevich | Mar 17, 2014 |
Monster by Walter Dean Myers. Illustrations by Christopher Myers. Copy right 1999. Publisher HarperCollins publishers. pages 281.

Type of Book: Realistic Fiction

Summary: A sixteen year old African American boy is on trial for being an accomplice to a murder. He was supposedly the one that scoped the place out for cops before the robbery took place. Steve Harmon is his name and he records his experiences throughout the trial and in prison in the form of a film. He is also trying to figure out the path his life is on and the path his life has taken.

Response: I enjoyed this book very much. It only took me three days to read it. The book is a very easy read and was interesting. I figured out what the ending would be but it was like you were watching it on t.v. like you would any televised court hearing. I thought this book was awesome.
  singleton2012 | Mar 2, 2014 |
Very intense novel about a young 16 year-old black boy from Harlem, Steve, who is on trial for murder. Told through a screenplay and Steve's diary entry, this very impactful book is one that will make you think about what it means to be guilty and what a life is worth. ( )
  smheatherly2 | Nov 24, 2013 |
BBYA Top 10 2000. YALSA Outstanding Books for the College Bound. From Amazon.com: "Monster" is what the prosecutor called 16-year-old Steve Harmon for his supposed role in the fatal shooting of a convenience-store owner. To calm his nerves as he sits in the courtroom, aspiring filmmaker Steve chronicles the proceedings in movie script format. RGG: Urban. Black. Male. Compelling. Very Readable.
  rgruberexcel | Nov 2, 2013 |
A 16-year old African-American boy from Harlem is on trial for murder in this tense YA drama written in movie-script format.
  bwilkinson | Aug 24, 2013 |
I think this book really helps young people understand the criminal justice system. Myers uses a screenplay format to tell Steve Harmon's story, which makes the book easier to read . I often recommend this book to my more reluctant male readers, and 9 times out of ten, they really enjoy it. ( )
  YvetteKolstad | May 6, 2013 |
There are certain books that I have read in my lifetime that stick with me for better or for worse. I first read Walter Dean Myers's Monster in ninth grade. At that time, I honestly detested even the thought of reading the book. I thought that books that centered on the plight of an African American were overdone, possibly to the point of being cliche. Of course, I had not read a great deal of books about that topic; nonetheless, I despised my teacher for making us read Myers's novel. As a result of my negativity towards the book, I finished it with a bitter taste that I attributed to the work itself.

Throughout the years, however, the book has stuck with me. I think I knew that I didn't give it the fair shake it deserved. Maybe it could be chalked up to my immaturity and ignorance of the concepts Myers attempts to convey, or perhaps it could be the environment in which I read the book (a predominantly White, private, all-boy, Catholic high school) that influenced my feelings towards it. Regardless of my prior feelings, while reading this book as an adult, I had a slightly different experience.

During my second reading of Myers's novel, I was first reminded of the book's format--a collection of journals interwoven with screenplay both written by the main character, Steve Harmon. This format was the only reason I gave this book four stars. Although it is always interesting to get a change in pace versus the more traditional style of novels, I felt this story could have been better told through one medium alone (i.e. only journals or only screenplay). As it stands, the format distracts from the central message of an otherwise powerful novel.

Other than the format of the book, I found my second reading fairly enjoyable. Like watching a movie for a second time, there were several subtleties that I had--understandably--missed as a ninth-grader. For example, I found myself relating to some of Steve's feelings of wanting to do something great with his life (i.e. becoming a filmmaker) that conflicted with the uncontrollable issues that held him back. Would he ever live his dream?

Undoubtedly--without even mentioning race--this is an excellent book to use in the classroom as a way to connect young readers to text due to the age of the main character and his thoughts expressed throughout the story. I can easily see it being used as a supplementary text in a unit on identity or labeling. Any teacher who would have the urge to teach Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird should have the same urge to teach Myers's Monster. ( )
1 vote dareone32988 | May 5, 2013 |
To be blunt, I really wasn't a fan of this book. The style was unique and interesting in the way that it transitioned between journal and screenplay. However, I didn't find the story compelling. Much of the development of the characters seemed shallow and uninteresting. The focus on trial proceedings was boring and really didn't add much to my own perspective or opinions of our own judicial system. I suppose that there are students for whom this story may resonate though. The book is also a relatively easy read, once you get used to dealing with stage direction notes in the script. This could be a way to tap in to reluctant readers, especially if they have backgrounds similar to the main character. By reading the book, there are obvious connections that can be made to the judicial system, the concept of justice, how people treat each other and what it's like to be involved in the criminal courts system. ( )
1 vote pbailey1980 | May 5, 2013 |
I loved this audiobook with the film script format! The story is very 12 Angry Men from the perspective of the accused Teen. ( )
  StefanieGeeks | Apr 11, 2013 |
I liked the journal and film script way of telling the story. It was so interesting to get inside the head of a sixteen-year-old boy on trial for murder with uncertain ties to the event. Not as gritty as one might think. Most of the harsh prison life details are left out, with only references to actions, rather than graphic descriptions. ( )
  JessieP73 | Apr 6, 2013 |
Solid, popular, boy-centered book. Never go wrong with Walter Dean Myers ( )
  akmargie | Apr 4, 2013 |
I surprisingly liked this book. I thought I wouldn't based on the style the story is presented (it's written in both script format and as a journal entry), but once I got used to the jarring quality of the script, I found it made for a quick read.

The subject is obviously a tough one, but I think it's well presented and does a fantastic job of showcasing truth and reality of life.

I found the content fascinating and while some of the character's are questionable (i'm still unsure of whether Steve was actually in the drugstore...he kept mentioning he went in for mints...) the overall message of good over evil and the justice system prevailing still managed to come across.

It would have been an entirely different book and commentary if the ending hadn't happened the way it did. ( )
  leftik | Apr 3, 2013 |
This book was so fascinating to me! I really enjoyed it. It was suspenseful!! I think it really portrays how seemingly small decisions can have really huge consequences, and the importance of having a firm moral foundation. I don't want to give anything away (i.e. the verdict), but I thought it ended how it should. ( )
  saraferrell | Apr 3, 2013 |
I wanted to like this better, but there just wasn't much depth to it. I thought the writing style - being written as a screenplay - would be distracting, but it was enjoyable. ( )
  pidgeon92 | Apr 1, 2013 |
First person narrative of a kid going through a trial that might end in a life sentence. He writes his experiences down in a notebook as a film script and director's notes. Inventive format, really compellingly blunt narrative. ( )
  amaraduende | Mar 30, 2013 |
Does being an accessory to murder make one a "monster"? Steve is in jail awaiting trial and contemplating the decision that led to his arrest. A unique look. ( )
  faither | Mar 25, 2013 |
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