Book Review: “Monster” What do they really see?

*** Contains Some Plot Spoilers ***


Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Damajia Daniels, Staff Writer


Monster was written by Walter Dean Myers, a New York’s Time bestselling author. It was published in 1999 about a young man named Steve on trial for a murder that everyone believes he’s committed. The story is told as if it’s a movie screenplay, a very captivating approach. Steve faces trial for murder with a few other guys from his neighborhood for the murder of Mr. Nesbitt, but Steve continues to claim his innocence. Even though Steve claims his innocence, it seems everyone only sees him as the monster. 

What is Monster?

Monster is a young adult literature read that tells the story of a young man named Steve who got mixed with the wrong crowd. Steve awaits trial with another young man named James King (the other two accused in the murder took a plea deal). In this story, we’re reading from Steve’s experience while in jail and in the courtroom. This novel depicts how one incident can change everyone’s view of you and how you start to depict yourself. As we’re introduced to Steve’s prosecutor Sandra Petrocelli, she refers to the four young men as “monsters.” This word not only leaves the reader speechless and distraught, but it breaks Steve as he hears this. Steve’s own lawyer seems to see him as a monster as well: after he has won the trial, she turns away once he tries to hug her. Even Steve’s dad moves out. This leaves one wondering: did they see the real Steve or did they see a monster? 

What I took from this novel?

What I took away from Monster is that one incident can label you something you’re not. It changes people’s view of you, and it dehumanizes you. When the prosecutor named all four boys “monsters,” I wondered why did she call them this heinous name. I understood the crime committed was horrendous, but why say it? Was this a race thing or did it just push forward her agenda?

Steve states in the text that “we lie to ourselves here.” Did he mean they lie about being innocent or that everything will be alright? I suggest that a lot of young adults read “Monster.” Your parents can’t protect you from reality as we see Steven’s parents try to do. The setting is brutal, but it’s jail which can be brutal (scenes include sexual violence, but that’s reality).