Monster by Walter Dean MyersSometimes 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. Ill call it what the lady who is the prosecutor called me. Monster.
Fade In: Interior Court. A guard sits at a desk behind Steve. Kathy OBrien, Steves lawyer, is all business as she talks to Steve.
Let me make sure you understand whats going on. Both you and this king character are on trial for felony murder. Felony Murder is as serious as it gets. . . . When youre in court, you sit there and pay attetion. You let the jury know that you think the case is a serious as they do. . . .
You think were going to win ?
It probably depends on what you mean by win.
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 Myerss writing at its best.
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Monster Book Review
Steve, sixteen and in prison awaiting a murder trial, is an African American teen and a product of inner city poverty and circumstance. In this story, Steve retells the events leading up to the crime and narrates the prison and courtroom drama while trying to determine if what the prosecutor said about him is true. Is he really a monster? Steve Harmon, a year-old African-American teen from Harlem, is awaiting trial for his role as an accomplice in a drugstore robbery that ended in murder. Before being imprisoned, Steve enjoyed amateur filmmaking and while in confinement decides to write his experience in prison as a movie script. In a movie script format, Steve gives readers an account of the events leading up to the crime.
Steve is pretty freaked out, in need of a way to deal with both the trial and the nastiness surrounding him in prison. Just writing in his journal isn't cutting it, so he begins chronicling his experience in screenplay form as well. The film begins with opening statements and other generic courtroom stuff, none of which is particularly interesting, but things start to heat up shortly thereafter when witnesses start taking the stand. The witnesses in the trial come from all walks of life. James Moody, the medical examiner; and even Steve himself. Need we say more?
The book uses a mixture of a third-person screenplay and a first-person diary format to tell, through the perspective of Steve Harmon, an African American teenager, the story of his trial along with James King for felony murder in the state of New York. The novel begins with year-old Steve Harmon writing in his diary awaiting for his trial for murder. Musing on his short time in prison so far, he decides to record this upcoming experience in the form of a movie screenplay. Kathy O'Brien, Steve's lawyer, informs him on what will happen during the trial. At this stage, only two of the four accused James King and Steve will be tried, since the other two accused Richard "Bobo" Evans and Osvaldo Cruz have entered into a plea bargain.
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At the beginning of the novel, the reader learns that Steve is in prison awaiting trial for his alleged involvement in a murder. He writes in his diary to pass the time, chronicling his observations and anxieties while imprisoned. As a coping mechanism, Steve records his daily life in the format of a film script. Both Steve and James King , another man allegedly involved in the murder, have entered a plea bargain and must testify in court. As the trial progresses, more witnesses are called to the stand. The trial proceedings are interrupted by a series of snippets that explore the relationship between Steve and James.