Contributor(s): Myers, Walter Dean (Author), Myers, Christopher A (Illustrator)
ISBN: 0064407314 EAN: 9780064407311
Publisher: Amistad Press
US SRP: $ 12.99 US
Binding: Paperback: 281 pages
Reading level: Young Adult
Pub Date: May 01, 2001
Annotation: Steve Harmon, 16, is accused of serving as a lookout for a robbery of a Harlem drugstore. The owner was shot and killed, and now Steve is in prison awaiting trial for murder.
From there, he tells about his case and his incarceration. Many elements of this story are familiar, but Myers keeps it fresh and alive by telling it from an unusual perspective.
Steve, an amateur filmmaker, recounts his experiences in the form of a movie screenplay.
His striking scene-by-scene narrative of how his life has dramatically changed is riveting. Interspersed within the script are diary entries in which the teen vividly describes the nightmarish conditions of his confinement.
Myers expertly presents the many facets of his protagonist's character and readers will find themselves feeling both sympathy and repugnance for him. Steve searches deep within his soul to prove to himself that he is not the "monster" the prosecutor presented him as to the jury.
Ultimately, he reconnects with his humanity and regains a moral awareness that he had lost. Christopher Myers's superfluous black-and-white drawings are less successful.
Their grainy, unfocused look complements the cinematic quality of the text, but they do little to enhance the story. Monster will challenge readers with difficult questions, to which there are no definitive answers.
In some respects, the novel is reminiscent of Virginia Walter's Making Up Megaboy (DK Ink, 1998), another book enriched by its ambiguity. Like it, Monster lends itself well to classroom or group discussions.
It's an emotionally charged story that readers will find compelling and disturbing.