I am very torn with how to rate and review this book. I think this book did a lot of important things. However, I wouldn't say I necessarily liked the book itself.
I really disliked the format. It was an unique choice, but I personally wasn't a fan. The movie-style format made it rather dull for me and often very confusing.
I do think that at the time it was written, it was very significant that the main character was a black teenager. Even today, there are not as many books that follow characters of color as there should be. So the fact this one was published, won so many awards, and was so acclaimed at the time is very impressive.
Story-wise I followed most of it, but there were sections I had to re-read, because they were too vague. The ending was pretty predictable. I was more concerned with why Steve was being charged with felony murder in the first place when he may or may not had a very minimal roll in the robbery. But I suppose that was part of the point of showing how black men are treated in the criminal justice system.
Because of the style, it's a fairly quick read. I really liked the conflict of character that Steve faces and the concept of being a monster. But I don't think it was expressed as much as it could have been if it had been written in a different format.
Again, I think this book did a lot of important things, but I wouldn't say I liked it. However, I still recommend reading it for its significance.
It is an important representation of court trails and jail from the perspective of a black teenager, especially considering it was written for young readers almost 20 years ago.