Monster By Walter Dean Myers: A Book Review

By: Rachel Lyle, February 17th, 2017

I am an English Literature Student at DelVal, so I take a large amount of literature courses. One of these many courses is one that I am currently taking called Young Adult and Adolescent Literature. One of the many books I have had to read so far for this course is the novel Monster by Walter Dean Myers. I have decided that I both love and hate this book at the same time.

I love the book because of the content of the story and what it’s about but not the way it’s written. I enjoyed reading the story and I think it is well written. The story is about a sixteen year old black boy named Steve, who has been arrested and is now on trial for felony murder. According to the Scholastic Inc. website,

Young, Black 16-year-old Steve Harmon, an amateur filmmaker, is on trial for the murder of a Harlem drugstore owner and could face the death penalty. Steve copes by writing a movie script based on his trial. But despite his efforts, reality is blurred until he can no longer tell who he is or what the truth is.

So since Steve is writing a movie based on the trial the book is written as if it is a screen play with what could be called journal entries intermittently placed between sections of the trial. Most of the book looks something like this,

MONSTER!

FADE IN: INTERIOR: Early morning in CELL BLOCK D, MANHATTAN DETENTION CENTER. Camera goes slowly down grim, gray corridor. There are sounds of inmates yelling from cell to cell; much of it is obscene. Most of the voices are clearly Black or Hispanic. Camera stops and slowly turns toward a cell.

INTERIOR: CELL. Sixteen-year-old STEVE HARMON is sitting on the edge of a metal cot, head in hands. He is thin, brown skinned. On the cot next to him are the suit and tie he is to wear to court for the start of his trial.

CUT TO: ERNIE, another prisoner, sitting on john, pants down.

CUT TO: SUNSET, another prisoner, pulling on T-shirt.

CUT TO: STEVE pulling blanket over his head as screen goes dark.

VOICE-OVER (VO)

Ain’t no use putting the blanket over your head, man. You can’t cut this out; this is reality. This is the real deal. VO continues with anonymous PRISONER explaining how the Detention Center is the real thing. As he does, words appear on the screen, just like the opening credits of the movie Star Wars, rolling from the bottom of the screen and shrinking until they are a blur on the top of the screen before rolling off into space.

As much I love the idea of writing this book in the form of a screen play, I don’t like it actually being written as a screen play. It’s really hard and annoying for me to read. Don’t get me wrong I loved reading the book for the content of the story and the characters in it I just don’t like the way it’s formatted. I really enjoyed reading it because it makes a statement and calls out our court and justice system for being messed up and showing how no one is trying to do anything to fix it, which I totally agree with, but I just find it annoying to do this in the form of screen play.

So for content I will give this book five out of five stars, but for the format I give it four and a half out of five stars. I say for an overall rating I’m giving it four stars out of five.

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