Monster: A Graphic Novel by Walter Dean Myers, Guy A. Sims, Dawud Anyabwile (Illustrator)
October 20th 2015 by Amistad
ARC from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there
Myer's 1999 novel is a favorite class discussion novel for our 8th grade, so it was interesting to see it adapted into a graphic novel.
Steve Harmon is an African American teenager who is very interested in film, and the book is presented as if it is the screenplay for a movie Harmon is making for class. Steve is on trial because he is accused of being the lookout for a robbery that ended in a drugstore owner being shot. Steve protrays his neighborhood, the people he knows, and his perception of the events. The lawyers at the trial bring up doubt concerning many of the events, and Steve, while he knows he is not guilty, begins to doubt the actions that caused him to be in this situation.
This is a timely book, given the current events in the news this summer. The graphic novel makes the characters seem very immediate and real, whether it is the arrogant swagger of Bobo, or the grief and disbelief of Steve's father.
The difficulties that Steve faces in his neighborhood are not glossed over, and there are elements in the novel and in this graphic version that make this more suitable for young adult readers. It is a good book for springboard discussions about how innocent people can be accused of crimes when they are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This version stays true to the novel, although the beginning lacks some of the background information that helps readers to understand the situation in the novel. The pictures capture the gritty, inner city feeling of the setting, and will make this story more accessible to readers who find pictures easier to process than paragraphs of description. Monster: A Graphic Novel is a must have for readers who are being introduced to this story for the first time, or who have read the novel and want to see the story told in a different way. Teachers will find that using these books for a compare/contrast exercise could be very interesting.
I, sadly, am not one who likes pictures, and since this book (given the original screenplay format) has always been confusing for me, I didn't much care for it personally. Will have to buy a copy, though!