18. Monster

by Walter Dean Myers

What an interesting novel. Monster, is about a 15 year old on trial for felony murder. He was allegedly the lookout for some older guys who planned to rob a local convenience store. The robbery went bad and the store owner was shot and killed with his own gun. In New York State, causing the death of another while in the act of committing a felony amounts to murder, even if the death was an accident.

The novel is Steve Harmon's voice, which is delivered in the form of excerpts form his diary entries and a film script he has made of his own trial. He writes his story as a film in order to cope with the reality he finds himself in (being seen as a monster). The effect is a combination of his very human, emotional side as depicted in his diary entries, and a very singular, focussed account of his trial proceedings.

Most interesting is the structure of the novel, the contrasts amde by the two modes of writing. It sort of reminds me of how The Sopranos is structured: the weepy, emotional therapy sessions contrasted with the cold-bloodedness of mafia life. Monster was very effective in revealing what court proceedings fail to reveal in the argument over "facts": the person who is the accused.

Overall, this is a young adult book and a very good one.

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