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Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Monster (original 1999; edition 2001)

by Walter Dean Myers

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,711None2,176 (3.69)1 / 37
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 |
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Showing 1-25 of 221 (next | show all)
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Title: Monster
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
No Illustrator
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 |
Story of Steve Harmon
  MGraysonk12 | Feb 1, 2013 |
Monster is what the 16 year old African American boy called himself while he was in jail for being a suspect in a murder trial. Steve Harmon, the teenager that writes the journals throughout the book, is accused of being a lookout for some bad guys during a robbery at a drugstore. Throughout the book, you find yourself trying to figure out if Steve was a part of the crime or not a part of the crime. Because Steve is an amateur film maker for his teacher, the book is written like a screen play. Steve shares his vivid and scary experiences in jail throughout the book as well. We get to see the whole court case play out and find out what really happens to Steve.

There are many things you can do with this book in the class room. First, we can teach the class about diversity or race. It plays such a big role in society today and it would be a great book to start the year with. I can also see myself using this book in a social studies classroom. When learning about the court systems and how it works, this book would be great to use. Students could be given roles from the book and have a mock trial.

Personally, I could not get into the book. It was a good book and had a great moral to it, but I just could not seem to stay focused. I did not like how the book was set up. I felt it was hard to follow because it was set up like a screen play. I really liked the journal pages that Steve wrote in jail. Overall, the book was interesting and I believe that middle school boys would love it! This was just not something I would recommend for girls. Girls may find the book dark or scary or uninteresting. I just do not find court room dramas to be interesting.
  AllyRice | Jan 30, 2013 |
Monster is the story of Steve Harmon, a young man from the Harlem neighborhood who is facing a charge of felony murder. The book opens with the gripping image of Steve crying quietly in his cell while a fellow prisoner is being beaten and raped. Steve tells his story through a series of journal entries and a move script. The script is especially used for Steve to process the situation that he is going through. In his journal entries and film sequences, Steve ponders his own perceived innocence, shares scenes from life in the prison, and recounts events that led to his accusation. The journal entries as well as the interwoven court scenes are well crafted. However, the close reader notices the discrepancies between Steve's testimony in court and the facts that he relates in his journal.
This might lead the reader to pass a "guilty" verdict on Steve Harmon. However, throughout the story, the author has created so much ambiguity and nuance in the terms "guilty" and "innocent', that it is hard to make a resolute judgement. Prisoners speak of their crimes as "mistakes", and out of delusion believe themselves to be innocent. Others quibble about "truth", and feel that telling their own version of the story is acceptable in light of the true horrors of life in prison. These conversations take place right before Steve's testimony in court, leaving readers wondering what the truth really is. This question haunts the reader even after the story is over, in the same way that Steve is ever after haunted by his identity as a "monster".
I liked this book because of the mystery that it maintains, and the question marks that it leaves you with. I think that this book speaks to young people because it deals with decision-making, acquaintance choices, helplessness, and identity crises.The book gives plenty of room for teachers to discuss the difference between perception and actual truth with their students. This would be a great book to teach to a classroom full of tough customers, and it is short enough and an easy enough read to assign to young people with the expectation that they read it on their own. ( )
  sarahstorment | Jan 29, 2013 |
This is a great book. The story is about boy named Steve Harmon. Steve is a young, black, terrified teenager. Steve is living in New York state with his mother, father and little brother. He is in trial for a murder. During this trial, Steve uses past and present timing to get the reader involved in the text. This fast-moving book was written like a movie script. There is a lot of drama in the book also. This book kept my attention throughout the whole story. The guessing and wondering keeps you on the edge of your seat.
I have a concern about this book. Such as, what grade level should a teacher give this type of book to her students to read for a discussion? We need to make sure our classroom children are ready for books like this one. I liked how it gave a lot of different examples of how things are brought up in the court room. Showing differently aged children how the court works with different examples, like the book Monster, might keep the classroom from doing bad things to go to jail.
I liked this book a lot. It is a very detailed book, and it is great for teenagers to see what goes on in the court room. I think every student around the age of nine should have to read this book as he or she is approaching the peer pressure years of a teenager. I have seen many of my friends have to go to court for different reasons and getting a feel for the way they ask questions can be quite scary. This book could be a guide to being honest and wanting to do the correct things in life. I would recommend this book to any child that wanted a quick, fun read. ( )
  Savannah_Horton | Jan 28, 2013 |
Monster is about a young teenage boy, Steve, who is accused of committing a crime at a drug store. One of his acquaintances, Bobo, places him at the scene of the crime, telling the jury that he was a part of the illegal act. Now it is up to the lawers and jury to decide the fate of this young man. The book is written in a script because after all was said and done, Steve made his experience into a movie.
Teaching this book to a class would be great. It relates to so many kids who are living in dangerous areas and who sometimes associate with the wrong people. One good theme about this book that a teacher could point out to his/her students is that one must be wise in choosing who the associate with. Steve was a harmless guy, but since he chose to talk to the neighborhood criminals, they threw him under the bus and accused him of murder. Another good point about this book is that no matter what type of situation one is in, it is always important to always believe in yourself. Do not let someone wrongly accuse you of something you know you did not do.
I actually liked this book. It was very easy to read and kept you interested in what was going to happen next. I cannot say that I can relate to this young boy, but I can only imagine that this was the worst experience of his life. My heart goes out to those who are wrongly accused of a crime. I know for a fact that I do not like people blaming me for something that I know I did not do. Growing up, I was brought up in a good town and great school and it just breaks my heart to think that crime, in some cities, happens daily and that it has no effect on some of the people. ( )
  AudreyFord | Jan 28, 2013 |
Steve Harmon was a simple boy just trying to make it through school. He saw life as a movie waiting to be produced and directed. A turn of events happen that Steve's life forever. He is charged with murder. Behind bars he is, waiting for his trail. Did he really help with a murder? Is he really a monster?
Themes in "Monster" revolved around crime and actual life. Some of the themes were right versus wrong, denial, seclusion, and perception versus reality. Teaching around this text will show children how society works and how people vilify the convicted so that others will have low opinions of them. The book is written is a different way, script-like. This ensures more attention expressed in the students. The themes and ideas in this book make it a great selection to teach to adolescent students.
This book grabs attention on page one. The script-like form of writing is somewhat frustrating but does numb after some time of reading the book. It is a bit hard to understand; there's no chronological order. The book fades from present to past to predicted future. All in all, the book is a great piece. Personally, the script lingo on every page is hard to interpret unless someone has background experience with scripts. The same goes for the settings in court when terms used are found in the text. This book was challenging to read but worth the effort. ( )
  Emily_Maddox | Jan 28, 2013 |
Through the story "Monster", Myers writes about the trial and thoughts of a 16-year-old boy who goes by Steve. He keeps the reader interested through a first person, film script type writing. This can seem a bit confusing at first when trying to keep all the people separated in the courtroom. Through Steve's "movie script", the reader finds Steve in prison and on trial for the murder of an older man. This realistic story keeps the reader constantly wondering, "Did he do it?...Will the jury believe he did it?" Steve uses making movies to get through this difficult time. The audience finds that in the end Steve finds his passion which keeps him living above the influence around him. This is a quick-read that any age group will enjoy.

Favorite quote: "Think about all the tomorrow's of your life." ( )
  Sarahac336 | Jan 28, 2013 |
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