Sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon is on trial for murder. As he sits in jail contemplating how the film of his life might play out he is all at once composed and frightened. As a film student he is used to noticing the details and framing them just so to tell a story, and as he sits in the court room listening to the prosecutor call him a monster he envisions his own.
Monster is written in the form of a screenplay that I found a little hard to follow. There’s no questioning that the story is gripping and provocative, but I found myself struggling with the format. The book is a National Book Award Finalist and a classic Young Adult text and is extremely well written. From page one Myers has dropped the reader into the frightening world of Steve Harmon and leaves us wondering if he is guilty or innocent. As the story unfolds through a courtroom drama we are left to decide for ourselves. Was he simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, a victim of a system that allows far too many plea bargains from already convicted criminals? Or was he an active participant in a robbery that turned into murder? Just like the jury at the end of the novel I had made my own decision.
What strikes me most about Monster is its relevance to today’s world. There are Steve Harmons running around all over the place that get caught up in situations born more of their circumstance than of their own actions. This book gives a stunning look into the mind of such a man and the way a simple decision can alter the course of one’s future.