Hmm... I'm still unsure about this one. I wanted to like it more than I did, but it was still quite good overall. I think I'd rate it a 3.5 instead of just 3, but I don't like it so much I want to round up the rating either.What I Liked:
- Some may feel that the format of this book (it's written as a screenplay) is gimmicky, but I thought it was appropriate here. This story is supposed to be about moral ambiguity and whatnot, and I think that would have been hindered had readers been treated to the trial through prose. Technically, this is *still* Steve's POV (the screenplay is written by him) but I still felt like I was being given the facts. HOWEVER, had this been told from Steve's POV in prose, it could have accented the Unreliable Narrator even more heavily than it was done here.
- That last line at the ending (which I obviously won't spoil) was particularly striking.
- The novel never gives you any clear answers about how the crime really went down. I liked that there's so much room for interpretation, and this book would be great fodder for discussion with teens. Some of this novel might feel like emotional manipulation, but that's just it: Steve is writing the screenplay as a means to convince himself that he's not a Monster. Outside of that, I don't think the text is trying to manipulate readers to feel sympathy for Steve -- that could have been achieved much more easily using prose where there would have been room to explore Steve's character and the secondary characters more in-depth, as well as the social circumstances they find themselves in.What I Wasn't as Crazy About:
- I'm not at all familiar with the American judicial system, but I find it strange that Steve could serve 25 years to life for participating in the holdup. Yes, it led to a death, but the punishment felt extremely harsh in light of the circumstances which kind of diluted the moral ambiguity for me a bit.
- The format of the novel, even with excerpts from Steve's journal really kept me from getting to know him. I didn't really feel invested in the outcome of the case; I was curious, but it was only a mild curiosity and not because I was concerned for Steve's well-being. This was compounded by the fact that Steve displayed absolutely no remorse/concern that this was happening to him because someone had DIED.
I can see why it won the Printz -- I wouldn't be surprised if this book was quite different from what was being published at the time -- but there was a disconnect with Steve's character that kept from loving it. However, I don't think I'd hesitate to recommend this to readers looking for stories that focus on moral ambiguity or are looking for unusual narrative formats.