Monster – Walter Dean Myers

Monster

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Monster is a book that deals with crime and what defining moments or decisions lead a person to cross the line and become a criminal. We are introduced to Steve, a 16-year-old kid who is on trial for felony murder – all because he chose to act as a lookout for two people who decided they wanted to rob a local shop and ended up killing the owner. He never intended to be swept up in something more than a plan to get some quick cash, but now his entire world has been flipped – all because he agreed to look around the store and let them know if there were any cops around. Yet, as a result of his participation, a man is dead, he is in prison and awaiting his trial.

I really enjoyed the style of the book, as it was written from Steve Harmon’s point of view and alternated between the main character’s diary-esque thoughts and his writings as he turned his life into a movie. The style made the story even more engaging and made the character more likable. I was engaged with the plot and read the book very quickly, which was helped in part by the format and pacing. Some of his flashbacks didn’t seem to add anything to the narrative, but overall they helped give the reader a better idea of ‘who’ Steve Harmon was/is.

The legal aspect of the book was also well written and interesting. I personally enjoy experiencing legal trials, lawyers arguing a case, and learning about the evidence (as one of my minors was in law), so I may be biased but it felt incredibly approachable and engaging, so I think all readers will appreciate it. I do actually wish we had gotten more of the trial and Steve’s reaction to it because sometimes I felt that it skipped ahead too quickly and we missed important plot points – but I could also see how that might slow the story down.

Monster is an interesting look into Steve’s life, the actions that brought him to where he is today, and the difficulty of knowing oneself, especially in that aftermath. I think it’s an incredibly important read for teens, especially those who might be faced with the same choices that Steve was in his life.

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