About My Book Reviews

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Title: Monster

Author: Walter Dean Myers

Published: 1999

Genre: Crime Drama

Grade Level: Young Adult

-Movie Rating: PG-13 for vulgar language and mature subject matter 

Blurb (from goodreads): 

Sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon is on trial for murder. A Harlem drugstore owner was shot and killed in his store, and the word is that Steve served as the lookout.

Guilty or innocent, Steve becomes a pawn in the hands of "the system," cluttered with cynical authority figures and unscrupulous inmates, who will turn in anyone to shorten their own sentences. For the first time, Steve is forced to think about who he is as he faces prison, where he may spend all the tomorrows of his life.

As a way of coping with the horrific events that entangle him, Steve, an amateur filmmaker, decides to transcribe his trial into a script, just like in the movies. He writes it all down, scene by scene, the story of how his whole life was turned around in an instant. But despite his efforts, reality is blurred and his vision obscured until he can no longer tell who he is or what is the truth. This compelling novel is Walter Dean Myers's writing at its best.

My Scores:

Writing Style: Good

The novel is written in a “found-footage” type of style, it’s a combination of a script, diary entries, and photographs. The author most likely chose this style to make it feel more realistic. 

Personally, I’ve never enjoyed this style because I think it takes away from the character development. However, this is the first novel of its kind that I have read all the way through, so it gets props for that. 

Characters: Fully Developed

The only character we really get to know is the MC, Steve Harmon, through his diary entries. The entries are masterful in taking the reader through the prison system as a young inmate. This aspect is why this novel has remained a classic. 

It’s my feeling that the author wanted Steve Harmon to be a universal symbol, and that’s why we don’t know much about him outside of his emotional experience in the prison system. 

Plot: Slow Burn / Enjoyable

The plot hinges on whether Steve Harmon will be found innocent at his trial. Will he spend the next 20 years in jail? Or will he get to finish out high school? This plot device never gets old, especially for a true-crime junky like me. 

What is interesting is how often the narrator points out the mundane conversations of the adults around him, the lawyers and guards. To have that contrasting against his emotionally raw and heart-breaking diary entries just adds a new layer of sadness and frustration. 

Overall: Enjoyable

It was an extremely quick and suspenseful read that remains as relevant as ever before. 

Messaging: Everybody lies

*Yes, it’s from House M.D., but it fits!*

Goodreads Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment