Steve Harmon is sixteen years old and on trial for murder in Monster by Walter Dean Myers, which takes the reader through the suspenseful trial and the verdict. Steve is a young man who has never been in trouble before. Suddenly, he finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Is he truly guilty or just guilty by association? Can a young man be on trial for having made poor choices?
Steve recounts the events that transpired the night of the robbery at the convenience store. He says he just happened to be there at the moment the robbery and murder took place. But a murder did occur and the prosecution is looking for the guilty party -- and they think they have found it in Steve. The term "monster" is the one used by the prosecutor as she describes Steve and his alleged actions -- but is Steve really a monster or is she just trying to build a case against Steve? When Steve hears this term used to describe himself, he is very disturbed.
"Beneath heaven is hell. Beneath hell is furnace." That is the description by 14-year-old Alex of Furnace, a prison one mile below the surface of the earth. When you are sentenced to Furnace you are sentenced for life. This gripping tale is Lockdown: Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith. In this story we meet Alex, who is arrested after he and a friend are caught during a burglary. However, the police are not your typical law-enforcement officers, as they are clothed all in black. Without any of the requisite procedures, during the arrest they shoot Alex's friend dead in front of him. Alex is taken to court and found guilty of murder. Despite his and his parents' pleas for an appeal he is sentenced to life in prison with no parole. Not just any prison but Furnace, where there are no visitors and no chance of ever getting out.
Alex arrives to find a tough world where survival is a daily concern. He quickly learns that friendships are not part of the Furnace world, and it is every man for himself. Gangs abound, the food is disgusting, and guard dogs tear the inmates apart. Alex quickly learns from his street-smart roommate to keep a low profile and not to draw attention to himself. This is especially the case when, during the night, evil guards manuever through the prison and randomly select the next victim. The victims are taken away and return as killing machines. Alex decides he wants out. So he and his roommate devise a clever escape plan. But it is very risky.
by Gennifer Choldenko
Who can blame 12-year-old Moose for feeling uneasy when his family moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 for his father’s job at the prison? Humor and pathos, memorable characters, and a strong sense of place highlight this unusual coming-of-age story.
Suggested for ages 10 - 14