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Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  3,285 ratings  ·  328 reviews
"After pumping eight blasts from a sawed-off shotgun at a group of rival gang members, twelve-year-old Kody Scott was initiated into the L.A. gang the Crips. He quickly matured into one of the most formidable Crip combat soldiers, earning the name “Monster” for committing acts of brutality and violence that repulsed even his fellow gang members. When the inevitable jail te ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published June 29th 2004 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 1993)
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The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister SouljahPush by SapphireTrue to the Game by Teri WoodsB-More Careful by Shannon HolmesThe Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
Good Urban Literature
37th out of 144 books — 234 voters
The Manson File by Nikolas SchreckMonster by Sanyika ShakurAlways Running by Luis J. RodríguezThe Black Hand by Chris BlatchfordInside the Crips by Ann Pearlman
L.A. gang life
2nd out of 16 books — 9 voters


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Community Reviews

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Annette
Dec 26, 2007 Annette rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who don't overstand
Wow, my liberal guilt meter must already be on full because I fucking hated this autobiography. I encourage everyone to skim the other reviews to understand why it is so highly rated and who is doing the rating. However, I will not bite.

Ok, "Monster" Kody fucking shoots PEOPLE a/k/a HUMAN BEINGS without so much as a fore or afterthought. He writes about these murders as if they are "points" to be gained in a game and nothing more. I was expecting to see Kody redeem himself in the end. I was hope
...more
Beth
This was a bit of an odd book. There were moments when I just wanted to put it down because it was moving slowly, was weighed down by the prose of someone trying way too hard, and reading the dialect of the dialogue was headache-causing at times. There were also moments where the book just flew by and I found myself getting involved with the characters, starting to feel like maybe I was understanding some of the allure that the Bloods or the Crips might have had for a young person. Of course, I' ...more
Alonzo
“The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member” by Sanyika Shakur also known as “Monster” Kody Scott is a raw frightening portrait of gang life in South Central, Los Angeles. In the sixth grade he joined the Eight Tray Crips. During his early days of being in the gang, he left a man in a coma and disfigured. Police told bystanders the person responsible for it was a “monster, thus giving him his nickname.
Kody Scott was raised with no father and a hard working mother who was never able to be home. He
...more
PrincessofthePage
I read this book when I was about 20 years old and in college as a part of an English class. I loved it. I've read several other's reviews on here from people who didn't like it, but this is why I did:

- As an autobiography from a gang member I didn't expect Ernest Hemingway style of writing. I think it brought realness to the book of who this person was, even though I'm sure this book went through a lot of editing to even get to this point.

- While it had realness, it had the thrill of fiction.
...more
Andrew
I felt that this book was just ok.

Nothing wrong with the content or anything, it's just the content kind of turned me off. The life of a Crip is not something I ever want to be a part of, espically after reading this. All the senseless killing just to make a name for yourself. Hunting groups of people down "not from your block" just to kill them. It so senseless, but it's seen as "the way of life." And there is no remorse to be found within for all the "enemies" killed.

What really got me was whe
...more
Jerry
Aug 03, 2010 Jerry rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010

The number of stars don't accurately capture my feelings about this book. Somehow, It was "OK", or "I liked it". My three stars represent that Monster is a disturbing read, that kept me engaged. Monster aka Kody aka Sanyika writes a gripping, account of his gangster life. He comes across as a cold-blooded killer.. a Monster without remorse. By the end of the book, he claims to have renounced his former gang life, but he retains a militant, hostile attitude towards authority, law enforcement, a
...more
Justin
Monsta Kody fully embraced the gangbanger lifestyle from an early age, committing his first homocide at the age of 11. The first 1/2 of this book details the high adrenaline, brutal, murderous lifestyle of a full time thug. He casually describes killing and beating countless people. Shakur is intelligent, thoughtful, and knows how to tell a good story. As detestable as many of the acts he describes are, the narrative is frequently riveting and has the grit of authenticity. The second 1/2 of the ...more
Byron
Well, that escalated quickly!

Author Sanyika Shakur a/k/a Monster Kody Scott goes from graduating the sixth grade to committing multiple homicides in this book's first few paragraphs -- not pages, mind you, paragraphs!

And it's just downhill from there. Over the course of the next few chapters, he racks up a body count that would be implausible in a damn Terminator movie. You wonder how he can admit to so many killings with minimal concern for being arrested for them.

Granted, there's the fact that
...more
Eriksmalls
I didn't like the feelings I got when reading the story because of the identification I had with some of the events that took place. Much of what the author wrote made me look at my own dark past. It was easy to picture myself in some of the situations the main character found himself in. The fact that some of the disturbing scenes will probably stay in my mind for years to come is an indication of how engaged I was in the book.

About half way through the book when the author began to change from
...more
Rosa
Sep 16, 2008 Rosa rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: absolutely no one
By far the biggest waste of time, ever.

Moral of the story: keep trading one "us against them" mentality for another until you find one that justifies your violence and stupidity. The end. Now you don't have to read it.
Julianna Garner
This book lets the reader get an insight to life as a gang member, and what exactly there motive is for. The main character, Monster Kody Scott (the author), is telling his young life as a gang member. Kody started at only 11, almost doomed from the start, he was in and out of juvenile detentions, shot, and even went to jail in maximum security. Kody Scott was a part of a LA group of crips called the North Side Eight Tray Gangsters. Although Kody brought it upon himself, for being involved in ma ...more
Claudia
I'll be honest..I didn't really read this. I got up to page 46 and couldn't take it anymore. I've read articles, studies, and excerpts about gang life and all that. This was supposed to be an interesting account of one, maybe it was for back in the day. Where shall I begin? First of all the author spills into chapters, telling stories from different times throughout his gang activity. I never felt enlightened or opened to the "gang mentality", nor did he explain the technical aspects of the gang ...more
Godzilla
Re-reading this makes for a depressing experience. The tale is unremittingly grim, with a constant barrage of mindless violence, given a validity for it being the way things happen in the 'hood.

The book gives little insight into the real reason for killing your fellow man in virtually the same situation. It's justified 'cause that's the way it's always been. Civil Rights leaders and stalwarts must be spinning in their graves.

Even more sad is the way the author radically changes his viewpoint, no
...more
Adam
This would have been a much better book if "Monster" Kody Scott had never converted to Islam and then used it as a get-out-of-jail-free card as far as his own redemption goes.

As it is, his recollections of being a Crip and killing lots and lots of people (mostly other Crips from rival sets, but some Bloods, and a few civilians, too) are tempered by constant non-reflection, in which he states that he is now a Muslim and has made a personal and political transformation. He never really elaborates
...more
Jill
I'm still not sure I've articulated a coherent opinion of this, but I can tell you I didn't like it. Certainly it is glimpse of a world that most people have never and will never see. And unlike many memoirs written by non-authors, it is not poorly written (the vast number of characters whose names you'll never remember not withstanding). But I just found myself feeling angrier and angrier with Kody/Monster/Sanyika for his total failure to grasp the big picture and his role in it, whether as a g ...more
Ryan Newfell
For the first two-thirds of this book I literally couldn't put it down. The matter-of-fact, neutral, emotion-less way that Kody tells of the harrowing cold-blooded acts he committed is compelling and makes you want to read more. Then you get sick of it. Then it's no longer fascinating and you realize *semi-spoiler* Kody, ahem, "Sanyika", doesn't give a crap about anything he did. You think maybe he's coming to redemption towards the end, but just because he finds religion he doesn't accept who h ...more
Jill
I read this at the recommendation of a couple colleagues: teachers, who wished to see this book added to their school library collection. After reading it, I can honestly say that this is one book that should never find its way into a teenager's hands without serious consideration and guidance. It is a very dark and twisted look inside the mind of a dark and twisted (and currently incarcerated) individual. If one is looking for gang memoirs, there are better ones out there that could serve as in ...more
J.C.
Very hard to read; not just the subject matter either. Very stream of consciousness with out the conscience. He describes rolling up and shooting a bunch of other Crips with about as much passion as he describes getting dressed in the morning. One second we're here, on the corner, next there, in some other neighborhood. One second he's beefing with a person, next chapter they're riding in the same car together looking for someone else to smoke, as if the previous beef didn't even exist. There is ...more
Gabe
Not much to say except it was a good memoir; very detailed about places and people. It really is revealing about how the mind of a violent gang member works. Not necessarily by what he tells (he is very self-serving in some details and never apologetic) but by revealing what is important to him. The family aspect, for example, is clearly revealed by how well he remembers all of his homies by their street names. People easily offended by unapologetic violence won't like this book. The author make ...more
Agathafrye
Feb 06, 2008 Agathafrye rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: could-not-finish
Eh. I have heard lots about this book over the years, and it's a frequent request at the library. Fans of the book tout is "authentic," which it certainly is, but I can't get past the self-indulgent author's annoying pseudo-intellectual soapbox rants. It also annoys me the way the author constantly uses the term "overstood." I know, petty, but still. The book is an interesting look into the psychology and culture of gangs, and I am finding it moderately engaging, but I have not found Monster to ...more
Matt
Very preachy. He said he didn't regret anything he did in the end so no one should feel sorry for the guy I think. I feel like he spent all his time blaming other people for the hand he was dealt in life. Times were tough back then but if you act like an animal you will be treated like an animal. I'm kind of upset My money is going into his pocket actually. The beginning was interesting but towards the end it was annoying to hear him talk about being held down by the man. The reason that was hap ...more
Huda
This book was a very interesting book and shows how gang life really is. I liked this book because it shows how he transitioned from a gang member into a revolutionist. I would like to read the other books that he has written also.
Mandy
Not much to say. He bragged his whole way through the book. I ended up just skim reading the last 200pages. This book was 400pages which is ridiculous it only needed to be 150. It had too many unnecessary stories.
Charlie Orphan
The sounds of gunshots, sirens and a vision of terrifying horror as you look at a lifeless corpse of someone you used to know laying in front of you. To you this situation may seem completely unlikely, terrifying and life changing, but to young Kody Scott, an aspiring gang member it was reality and a common occurrence.
In his autobiography titled Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member Sanyika Shakur (Previously known as Monster Kody Scott) follows his transformation from a young, ignor
...more
Jonathan Graham
It's the kinda book that's simultaneously both great and so-so. If I didn't already know what life was like in South Central thanks to dozens of films and tv expose's and books on the subject, if the canon were not already chock full, I might have found this to be the most important work of its kind. And in spite of everything from Menace to Colors to Boyz, it still is a stark reminder about what day to day life was like for a lot of folks in a big part of that city.

The writing is so polished it
...more
Barbara
While the first half of this book probably would have gotten at least 4 stars from me, the second half was the same for me as what is described in the other reviews- somewhat strange, and distracting from the first half.

From the beginning of the book, we get a detailed (although disturbing) account of the life of an inner city boy, living in a "concrete jungle." We learn all about the gang mentality, and how easy it is for young boys in these areas to be lured by gangs. Looking for a sense of be
...more
Eva Leger
Jul 21, 2008 Eva Leger rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: street-lit readers, some memoir readers
Recommended to Eva by: book club member
I have yet to join a gand, hehe, but this seems like a good portrayal of what the life would be like. I did like that he didn't seem to be glorifying the gang life but at the same time the few racist remarks included bothered me. Probably what bothered me most of all was his likening the gang to the army and military, likening a drive-by shooting to a war, things like that. Overall it was a good book with a good story, good ending, good lessons, and good writing.
Zadignose
Nov 16, 2014 Zadignose marked it as partially-read  ·  review of another edition
I've gone far enough with this for now, but I may pick it up again someday. There are some interesting scenarios that play out in the early phase of the book, but somehow this feels like Monster is writing the book he thinks we want to read, and he's mistaken. It's not unusual for an autobiography to be embellished, dramatized, what-have-you, but anyway, even while some episodes are plausible, it doesn't quite play out as believable in some parts. What I was hoping for was some bit of insight in ...more
Mike
This book has been for me both enjoyable, interesting, ugly and in many cases difficult to understand the mindset of Sanyika. I disagree with him on a number of accounts but applaud his obvious strength and determination to leave behind gang life and lead a more worthwhile existence.

First of all may I say I am not black, did not grow up in LA or have a childhood in any way related to his. However I have served my time in the military, I believe in judging the person, not there colour, race, rel
...more
Synesthesia (SPIDERS!)
This dude is huge so I hope he doesn't read this review, but dang did he ever make some bad decisions in his life. Kids, do not join gangs. Don't go around shooting people. Don't shoot people who are in your own gang and not even the rival gang. Read this book and do the opposite of what this guy does.
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Sanyika Shakur (born Kody Scott), also known by his former street moniker Monster, is a former member of the Los Angeles gang the Eight-Tray Gangster Crips. He got his nickname as a 13-year-old gang member when he beat and stomped a robbery victim into a coma. Shakur claimed to have reformed in prison, joined the Republic of New Afrika movement, and wrote an acclaimed autobiography called Monster: ...more
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“Out of frustration and hopelessness our young people have reached the point of no return. We no longer endorse patience and turning the other cheek. We assert the right of self-defense by whatever means necessary, and reserve the right of maximum retaliation against our racist oppressors, no matter what the odds against us are.” 0 likes
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