Thursday, February 16, 2012

Book Review: Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Title: Monster 
Publisher: Amistad Press
Pages: 281
Release Date: May 8, 2001
Reading Group: Young Adult


Young, black, 16-year-old Steve Harmon, an amateur filmmaker, is on trial for the murder of a Harlem drugstore owner. 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. Illustrations.


Monster was unfortunately disappointing for me. When I started the book I was really enjoying it. However, as I kept reading, I found myself getting more and more bored with it. By the time I finished it, I felt... indifferent. I'll try my best to explain.

First of all, I want to give props for Walter Dean Myers for taking such a creative approach in writing Monster. I've never read a novel written like this before. We're basically getting exposed to the story through the main character's personal journals and the script he writes as the story goes on. Some may think that it's a lazy approach in writing the story, but I think it made the book fun to read... for a certain amount of time.

While I do appreciate the creative approach, I don't think it works for this particular story. This is a story that mostly takes place in court, so you really need to care about the characters to keep reading. Having most of the story written as a screenplay doesn’t give enough material about the characters or the situation they’re in. You could say that characters shine through their dialogue, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case in Monster.

Like I said, I do appreciate the creative approach, but I think this form of writing made the characters suffer in my eyes. It was really hard for me to get attached to Steve. I really didn't know what to think of him. His personal journals weren't enough for me to get to know him. The side characters in particular don't shine at all, even though there are several of those. As I kept reading the novel, I kept forgetting who is who. I'm not the kind of reader that cares about having a likable character, but I do want characters that are interesting enough for me to keep reading.

When it comes to the story itself, I personally didn't know where it meant to go. I don't think it succeed to delivering its central message, which is about how people see you. I was disappointed because I didn't get a satisfying resolution neither there was a character development in my opinion.
All in all, despite how I feel about Monster, I'd like to try more of this author's work. Keep in mind that I’m in the minority when it comes to this book, so don’t let me stop you from trying it out.

Final Rating: 

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