Parents' Guide to


By Monica Wyatt, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Provocative book about teen on trial for murder.

Monster Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 14 parent reviews

age 13+

Such a shame to rate this as "iffy"

If there's an infrequent use of "mild to moderate" language and implicit or passing references to sexual activity, I'm unsure why this book would be rated so highly for sex and language. Violence? Of course violence is part of "Monster;" the story is about a young teenager on trial for aiding in a robbery which results in murder. I rate this as appropriate for ages 13 and up not for any "controversial content," but because Myer weaves such a complex story, following the protagonist, Steve, as he struggles to understand how he's come to this point, his overwhelming trial, his dreams in life. Readers are left to figure out Steve's guilt or innocence; Steve himself must grapple with who he is versus what others see him as. Though these questions are never explicitly asked, Myers' story encourages readers to consider how we view young, urban black men; how these perceptions are internalized; justice; how a life (potentially) derails. "Monster" is a quick read that will draw in reluctant readers with its mixed journal and screenplay-style narrative, but be warned: it not only entertains (because let's face it: it's just a darn good story), it also gets kids and teens to think.

This title has:

Educational value
1 person found this helpful.
age 12+

Great Read for Mature Teens

This book is engaging to readers of all ability levels because it is so interesting. And, as an ELA teacher, I haven't read a book like it before with students, and I've enjoyed all of the discussions and questions students have explored while reading the book. It's also one of the best novels to use to help students explore some more difficult reading skills related to point of view, determining character motivations, assessing how elements of fiction work together (ex/ how certain settings affect other plot events or a character's development). There are two instances in the book I discuss with students and parents before reading. In the beginning of the book, the character subtly refers to hearing the sounds of an assault while in jail, but it's such a brief reference that most students don't notice it. And, to be quite honest, anything they're watching on TV is much more provocative than what's in this book. The second occurs a little over the halfway mark when two characters have a disagreement and one repeatedly uses a derogatory term to try to "bully" the other character. Overall, this is a worthy read for 7th graders as long as parents understand it mirrors modern storylines.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (14 ):
Kids say (28 ):

The suspense and drama keep reluctant readers turning the pages, while more advanced readers will respond to the issues raised. Walter Dean Myers writes about human beings who make their own choices and react to their own circumstances -- even the minor characters have enough individuality to ring true -- and, as a result, teen readers care about them. They want Steve to be found not guilty, even as they try to figure out if Steve really is guilty. Steve's feelings about himself, his terror of jail, and his reaction to the epithet "monster," leave the reader guessing.

The format of this taut story regulates the pacing. Edge-of-the-seat courtroom scenes written entirely in dialogue wind the reader up, then thoughtful journal entries allow readers to catch their breaths. Readers can feel Steve's terror and confusion, and will ponder Myers' point about how the road from innocence to trouble is taken in small, almost invisible steps, each involving a "lack of positive moral decision."

Book Details

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