Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
Half of those jurors…believed you were guilty the moment they laid eyes on you. You’re young, you’re Black, and you’re on trial. What else do they need to know?
At sixteen years old, Steve Harmon is on trial as an accomplice to a murder. As a high school student with an interest in filmmaking, Steve records his time in jail and in the courtroom in the form of a screenplay, titling it what the prosecutor called him: Monster by author Walter Dean Myers.
Count this as the only time I’ve ever read a novel written as a movie. That immediately got my attention when I picked up this YA book on an impulse.
But what I came to appreciate most about the story? It didn’t turn out to be the oversimple tale it could have been. It may be easy to string together a bunch of clichés concerning a hot button topic, to insert them into a predictable plot, and then—BAM!—you’ve got a novel about a hot social “issue.”
This novel isn’t that. Yes, it relevantly takes a social climate into account, but it isn’t merely using that to spin a drama together, nor is it just a ride or a race to figure out whodunit. Rather, this is a story of lost innocence. It’s a story of reflection, of questions.
And it seems to me, the novel’s value is in getting readers, especially (but not only) young adults, to reflect. To question. Perhaps to even form a habit of reflecting, of seriously thinking about what’s important, before trouble demands it.
Note to my blog readers: this novel contains some violent material within and outside of jail.