Being 16 years old is one of the few things that Steve Harmon and I have in common. At 16, while I may be stressed out about a test or a cross country meet, Steve Harmon is on trial for his life, accused of robbery and murder. While I may see an essay grade at unfair, Steve is an African American teen accused of murder who is prejudged by the jury, his defense lawyer, and even his mom as being guilty before his trial even starts.
Monster is the story of the Steve Harmon’s murder trial. At the start the reader is introduced to Steve Harmon who claims to be innocent but no other character in the story believes him. Through the rest of the book the reader learns who Steve actually is through flashbacks of his life before the trail and by his journal during the trial. At the same time, witness after witness is called to the stand.
Monster is told through a screenplay written by protagonist Steve Harmon. Author Walter Dean Myers chose to do this after he found, through research, that many prisoners tried to distance themselves from their crime. They view the crime as something committed by a character in a movie and not themselves. This style also compliments the murder trial setting by giving the reader similar information and in a similar way to what a jury would receive, creating the suspenseful and tense tone of a courtroom.
Although I had not particularly enjoyed mysteries, Monster may have changed my mind. I recommend this book for anyone looking to explore the mystery genre. Monster lacks the dragging on and boring characteristics that someone new to the genre would expect because of the style of Myers’ writing. While the reader learns the details of the case he or she is also learning Steve Harmon’s background and his feelings towards what is going on in the trial.
Book review by Aric Landy