Sunday, April 3, 2016



YA graphic novel
"Most people in our community are decent, hard working citizens
who pursue their own interests legally and without infringing on the
rights of others...But there are also monsters in our
communities...people who are willing to steal and to kill...people who
disregard the rights of others..."
The same library visit during which I found Drowned City I also
discovered Monster, the graphic novel adaptation of Walter Dean Myers'
prize winning Monster. I'd read the original novel ages ago and been
very deeply impressed. I wondered how this version would stack up. I
was a little skeptical that a slimmer volume with less word space
could carry the power of the original.
Let me be the first to say I was wrong.
Monster is centered around the trial of a juvenile, Steve, for
armed robbery and murder. In the course of a robbery for which he was
the alleged look out the well liked and respected owner of the drug
store being hit up was fatally shot. Even if he did not pull the
trigger, because the murder occurred during the commitment of a
felony, he could get a heavy sentence. Sandra Pettrocelli, the
prosecuter, from whose opening statement the quote that starts this
review is taken, is determined to put him away for a long time. Kathy
O'Brien, the defense attorney, is determined to win her case, but
seemingly ambivolent about her client's innocence. In a very telling
panel, when she answers his question, "You think we're gonna win?",
she replies, "It probably depends on what you mean by win," while
looking away.
You see the trial coverage in a movie like format (how Steve,
who studies film making, sees it) from when Steve receives
instructions from his lawyer til a verdict is reached. But it is far
from the slicked up version you get in many movies. There are
complications. For some reason I never completely understand the
lawyer for one of the other accused guys is in on the questioning.
Moments of drama are interspersed with more mundane ones. One person
is shown on the verge of falling asleep.
Flashbacks are incorporated very neatly to show, rather than
tell, the backstories mentioned in incidents alluded to during the
trial. However, the most powerful segues from chronological narrative
involve Steve's experiences in prison and his feelings about them.
His father talks about his hopes for him and breaks down in tears.
It's the first time Steve has ever seen him cry. His mother tells
him, despite what anyone else might say, she believes in his innocence.
In short, I believe that, in addition to bringing Monster to a
lot of people who would not have the patience to read the original,
this version is a fine piece of literature in its own right. In fact,
in one regard, raising questions about the American legal system, it
surpasses the all script version.
On a far more pleasant personal note, the morning before Easter the
Veazie Community school held the annual family breakfast and egg
hunt. Very wisely (considering recent roller coaster weather) the
eggs were hidden in the gym. Our police officers and fire fighters
were working the event. A Kodak moment was our town manager serving
up food.
A great big shout out goes out to the Veazie fire and police
departments and out town manager, Mark Leonard, who runs just about
everything in this town. I don't see how he does it.
Jules Hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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