Monster (Walter Dean Myers novel)
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Cover of unknown edition
|Author||Walter Dean Myers|
|Cover artist||Christopher Myers|
|Language||Spanish and English|
|Genre||Drama, Crime novel, Mystery|
|Media type||Print (paperback)|
|LC Classification||PZ7.M992 Mon 2004|
Monster is a young adult drama novel by American author Walter Dean Myers and was published by Harpercollins in 1999. It was nominated for the 1999 National Book Award for Young People's Literature, won the Michael L. Printz Award in 2000, and was named a Coretta Scott King Award Honor the same year.
The novel's plot focuses on Steve's time in prison and his experiences in the courtroom throughout his trial. the aspiring filmmaker records the events of his trial in screenplay format. Interspersed are journal entries containing Steve's own thoughts which provide the reader with background information concerning his life and to the robbery.
During his trial, Mrs. Petrocelli, the prosecutor, calls to the stand a 14 year-old boy named Osvaldo Cruz. Osvaldo tells them the plan for the robbery and who participated. He tells Petrocelli that Bobo, King, and Steve were involved. According to Cruz, the plan was that Steve would go in the drugstore, check for police or citizens and then make a signal if the store was clear. After King and Bobo robbed Mr. Nesbitt, the store owner, Osvaldo was to slow down any person who chased them. Osvaldo tells the police that he participated in the robbery because Bobo threatened him and his mother with violence.
Lorelle Henry also testifies as a key witness as she was in the drugstore when the robbery happened. At that time, she saw two men get into an argument. She saw one of the men seize Mr. Nesbitt by the collar and decided to leave the store before there was any more trouble. The prosecutor brings Bobo out to tell his part of the story.
A small mistake links Bobo Evans and James King to the robbery: Bobo and King take five cases of cigarettes as an afterthought to the robbery. When a drugstore clerk sees that cigarettes are missing, he reports a theft to the police. In the meantime, Bobo and King have already sold the cigarettes to a man named Zinzi who deals in stolen goods. While Mr. Zinzi was going to be incarcerated for buying stolen goods, the police offer to shorten his sentence if he will testify against Evans and King. In his self-serving testimony, Zinzi confirms that he bought five cases of cigarettes from James King and Bobo Evans which they said came from a robbery.
At the novel's close, Steve rediscovers his personal identity, and develops a set of moral standards for himself that ultimately shape the person he becomes following his trial. James King is found guilty of murder and Steve is found not guilty.
||This section possibly contains original research. (September 2013)|
Introduction: Steve must come to terms with his own identity. He accomplishes this throughout the novel in his journal entries which he makes during his time in jail awaiting trial.
Peer Pressure: This theme is the basis for how he ended up in his current situation. Had he not given in to the peer pressure by James King he wouldn't have been involved with the robbery that led to the death of the store clerk.
Humanity: Steve is called a "monster" by the Prosecutor at the beginning of the novel and Steve grapples with the question of whether or not he is monstrous for his actions in the robbery. He is constantly reflecting upon this in his journal entries. The word can also be found scribbled faintly and scratched out on pages of the novel itself.
The style in which this book was written is not typical of novels, giving the impression of a screenplay, written by Steve Harmon. Using visuals like "fade in", "voice over", and “fade out. One critic said, “Presented alternately as the first‑person, handwritten memoir... a neatly typed screenplay.” They also commented on the “ Surface effects – marginalia, drawing, photographs, mugshots, and video stills – to offer an analysis of the complex identities that emerge in the context of such surfaces.” Another critic complemented, “Monster is an experiment in form and structure,” and “vent[ing] his passionate perplexity.”
- Steven Harmon: (Main Character) A sixteen year old African American boy who was being trialed for a murder. But still hasn't had a chance to talk and say his part of the story.
- Kathy O’Brien: Steve's serious defense attorney, who doesn't know if he is guilty or not guilty but still tries her best to plead him innocent.
- Sandra Petrocelli: The Assistant District Attorney who prosecutes Steve and James King, labeling them "monsters" to the jury.
- James King: The defendant who encouraged Steve to join the robbery. He is said to be responsible for the death of the store owner, Mr. Nesbitt
- Richard "Bobo" Evans: The defendant who planned the robbery. The prosecution uses his testimony against King and Steve because he is receiving a smaller sentence.
- Asa Briggs: The defense attorney for James King. He has blue eyes and white hair.
- The Judge: A 60-year-old man, who is short and fat with blue hair who calls for a glass of beer often.
- Osvaldo Cruz: A 14-year-old boy, slim and well-built, who has a tattoo of a devil's head on his left forearm and one of a dagger on the back of his right hand between his thumb and forefinger. He is in a gang, The Diablos, and has been arrested multiple times.
- José Delgado: He is the young, well built, very articulate drugstore clerk, and the first person to see the murdered Nesbitt.
- Sal Zinzi: He is the criminal in jail telling the story he heard to get a break in his jail sentence. He was not part of this crime.
- Mr. Nesbitt: He is the man murdered in the store during the robbery.
- Judge: Judge of the court trying to prove the people on trail innocent or guilty. He has a very confused attitude.
Like his character, Walter Dean Myers grew up in New Orleans. As a young man, he struggled with a speech impediment that caused many of his classmates and teachers to ridicule him and think him unintelligent. Myer often got into trouble at school for selling drugs in school and on the streets. When trying to defend himself against the ridicule, causing many to label him a “Monster," much like Steve Harmon was labeled a "monster." Later, while working as a construction worker, Myers decided to follow advice given to him by his high school writing teacher and began writing at night after work, just as the character Steve Harmon writes throughout the novel.
In New York City there is a long established law that allows a person to use deadly physical force when they reasonably believe it is necessary and there is no chance of retreating from danger. In most cases of robbery when the suspect is a minor (case depending) they are only held until they are 18. However, when there is a murder involved this rule no longer applies and the juvenile can be incarcerated for much longer.
- "2000 Printz Award". Retrieved 14 April 2013.
- Staunton, John A; Gubuan, Francine (May 2002). "Monster". J ADOLESC ADULT LIT. 45 (8): 791–793. JSTOR 40012833. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
- Cart, Michael (2000). "Carte Blanche: The Dream Becomes a Reality". Booklist. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
- Myers, Walter Dean. "Biography". Walterdeanmyers.net. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
- Italie, Hillel (4 March 2011). "At 73, Jersey City author Walter Dean Myers is a hero to young readers". NJ.com. Associated Press. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
- Myers, Walter Dean. Bad Boy: a Memoir. New York, N.Y.: HarperCollins, 2001. Print
|Michael L. Printz Award Winner