Monster by Walter Dean Myers

June 5, 2012
By Brianna H. BRONZE, Alton, New Hampshire
Brianna H. BRONZE, Alton, New Hampshire
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If a suspenseful courtroom is what you are craving, or murder is what you’re into, this is the book for you. It is called Monster, written by Walter Dean Myers. It is about a 16 year old boy, named Steve Harmon, who is on trial for possibly assisting the killing of a store clerk named Alguinaldo Nesbitt. He tells the story through his own thoughts and actions throughout the case, turning it into somewhat of a movie or play. “Sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I’ll call it what the lady who is the prosecutor called me. MONSTER.” But is he really the monster that the prosecutor made him out to be? That is the real question.

This book has some very interesting characters. Starting off with Mr. Steve Harmon, he was trying to become a film maker, taking classes taught by a man named Mr. Sawicki. From the description that Mr. Sawicki gave on Mr. Harmon to the court, Steve was pretty good at it. But when Steve got mentioned in the involvement of the murder and robbery, that sort of put a hold on his film making. He was put on trial with a few guys named James King, “Bobo”, and Osvaldo Cruz. These were a few people Steve knew from the streets, not closely, but would know them if he saw them. They are much different from Steve, they act differently, speak differently, even think differently. This raises the question to the judge and jury, how can Steve be a part of this group when he is so different? And if he’s not a part of this group, how could he have been helping them with this crime?That’s what Steve’s lawyer, Kathy O’Brien, wants them to think. She wants to prove to them that he is innocent, but she doesn’t even know that herself. So in the meanwhile, Steve sits in jail, just thinking and writing this play, which is basically the whole context of the book.

I believe that this book takes place in the present time. The way that the people talk and act seems like you could see that on T.V. now. It starts off with Steve in his jail cell, getting ready to go to court. These are the two main places that we see Steve, jail and court. But as the book goes along, he has memories of things that takes the reader to other places, like Mr. Nesbitt’s store, or his home, even the basketball court. These “other places” really help to show how Steve grew up and the events that led to this murder. It was almost like you were with Steve in jail, then you followed him where his mind wandered to, but you knew that you were still in jail. It gave the reader the message that he didn’t want to be in jail, that he wanted to relive his memories, anywhere but jail.

That was his main conflict, jail. He knew that he was innocent, but he also knew that he was the only one who knew that. He had to prove to the judge, the jury, his lawyer, everybody that he was not guilty. You could tell that he was stressed, and angry, and upset, but didn’t know what to do about it. And more importantly, couldn’t do anything about it. He could only sit there and watch the whole thing unfold in front of him. I think that’s why he felt like he was watching a movie. And maybe even why he wanted to make it his own movie. So that he could feel like he was in control of something.

I personally was sort of iffy about this book. I’m not too big on realistic fiction and it took a while to build up to its climax, which I was not too thrilled about. I don’t think that I would recommend this to anybody, especially not anyone lower than eighth grade, some parts were a bit inappropriate for younger readers. If I were to give this book a rating, it would most likely be a 2.5 out of a 5. I do not think I would recommend other books like this one because overall I thought it had too much suspense, making it a bit boring. But if you really want to read this, you can buy it for $8.99 on Amazon for the paperback or $7.99 for the kindle edition.

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