Book Review: Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Yes, yes, I am still mostly on leave from the blog. But Tim's book release needed to be talked about, and now so does this (even though it's been out for a while, it's amazing and deserves attention). 

This New York Times bestselling novel and National Book Award nominee from acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers tells the story of Steve Harmon, a teenage boy in juvenile detention and on trial. Presented as a screenplay of Steve's own imagination, and peppered with journal entries, the book shows how one single decision can change our whole lives.

Fade In: Interior: Early Morning In Cell Block D, Manhattan Detention Center.

Steve (Voice-Over)
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 prosecutor called me ... Monster.

-via Goodreads

I read this as the last book for my diverse books project.

Y'all, it was soooo good

I haven't read Myers before, but I definitely see why his work was included on the list.

Normally I am not a fan of books written in any format other than the standard, but this worked. I actually get really annoyed when people are very descriptive in their writing-I will gloss over entire paragraphs describing a living room or the size of a house. I'll even skip over character details sometimes (when everyone got really pissed about Rue & Cinna being black in The Hunger Games? And then everyone pointed out passages describing them as black? Did not care at all, but also didn't remember their descriptions). My brain fills in gaps automatically, too much detail just slows it down when picturing a fictional world.

The act of writing this as a screenplay somehow gave the perfect amount of direction without forcing me to give up my own instincts as a reader. 

The positioning of the jury, judge, etc clearly set the scene but without wasting time describing the lawyer's outfits/etc.

I could sit here and discuss every part of this story, and all the characters. They felt real, and believable-or at least as real and believable (maybe more so) than any trial blasted across our news stations in the past ten years.

The story touches on family, personal identity, the American justice system, age, race...and all with truly minimal amount of written words.

 My copy was 280 pages, but again it's a non-traditional format so think lots of spacing and big print (I also applaud the choice to have Steve's notes presented in a handwritten font- a risky move but again, it worked).

Myers truly proved to be a master with this book, and I highly encourage everyone to read it. I gave it a 5 star rating on Goodreads...which I never do. Out of 320 books, 14 have 5 star ratings (and some of those I would probably take back if I read today). It was just a truly engrossing read (I finished in just over 24 hours) and I was pleasantly blown away by the unorthodox format. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a book written in a non-narrative form even half as much.

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