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

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  4,492 Ratings  ·  386 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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Community Reviews

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Rating details
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Dec 25, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 08, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
“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
Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 21, 2018 marked it as to-read

I've been eyeing this book for quite awhile now. To quote Pac, 'I didn't choose the thug life, the thug life chose me.'

Khashayar Mohammadi
I read this book as a part of a book exchange I have with a coworker, and his obsession with biographies forces me to delve into my least favorite genre of literature. I have never cared much for biographies, and I doubt if any book, no matter how fantastic can change that about me.

all that set aside, the book was written well, and it provided a lot of insight into the life of an L.A. gang member, and American gang members in general. I can't really see the point of the book, since it didn't rea
Eva Leger
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Simply put, a very haunting tale of L.A. ganglife.
Kevin Eleven
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Monster: The Autobiography of An L.A. Gang Member tells the story of Monster Kody Scott and his time growing up as an Eight Tray Gangster Crip in South Central Los Angeles. During his youth, Monster shows his loyalty to the set by shooting opposing rival gangs, (often times killing them) robbing civilians, committing grand theft auto and defending the hood (he grew up on Florence and Normandie) at all costs. Moreover, what makes his personal account hit home is the fact that he lays down the fou ...more
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jordan Allen
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Before reading this book I was under the assumption that people choose to participate in gangs. After reading this book I know that it is way more complicated. Sanyika does a fantastic job explaining, not justifying, why gang life in South Central is simply a part of life: "My participation came as second nature. To be in a gang in South Central when I joined- and it is still the case today- is the equivalent of growing up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and going to college: everyone does it."

Julianna Garner
Oct 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Melanie Samay
Aug 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Kody Scott's transformation to Sanyika Shakur
Sanyika Shakur‘s, aka Monster Kody Scott, Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member, was published in 1993. Featuring literary tropes, the style flows, everything is explained easily for the reader, and yet the book is hard to read. It’s difficulty lay not in the writing but in the content and the emotions they evoke. Without glamorizing gang life, Sharkur describes his rise through the ranks of the Crips gang. After brutally disfiguring someo
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Maybe because as a Black woman in the heart of all the racial tension and systemic, institutionalized micro aggressions of 2015, this book touches me in an indescribable way. It feels like so much of the struggles Sanyika has gone through are present in the eyes of so many brown youth today. That is a chilling fact.

The book escalates quickly. While the brutality of the book is at the forefront, much of Monster showcases the spectrum of life in the hood. I'm proud of his willingness to share all
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author does a great job of carrying the reader through his mindset at the different stages of his life. While it can be read that the author has no compassion, it should be remembered that he is portraying the thinking of a young gangster at that time. He is trying to give the reader a “glimpse at South Central from ‘his’ side of the gun, street, fence, and wall,” which I think he does very well. To incorporate the reflections and realizations he acquired at an older age would have depleted ...more
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 28, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Feb 22, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Amanda Frontera
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
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.
Jan 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book gave me a very eye opening view of a young man's life in an LA gang. There were so many names and sections of different gangs however it got me slightly confused. Overall though, very good story and wicked information!
Marco Santana
Jul 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great book. Very graphic and depicts the reality of the street life that television and the media tend to so glorify. Very inspiring how Sanyika Shakur goes from being a warrior from his 'hood to a warrior for the people.
Sep 16, 2008 rated it did not like it
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.
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this story. It shows that there is no excuse as to why you cannot turn your life around, and become a better person. I would definitely refer this book to a friend. :)
James J
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
Monster was a boring book.repetitive & poorly written.defintely a guide book for those wannabe gangstas.yea,I have seen this was boring & repetitve too.
This was once again a book I found hard to rate as it would deserve as much lower rating than it would deserve a higher rating, which is why I am stamping it hard with the middle and the average rating number three.

I have never had a deeper interest towards the gang culture in America, but after reading some articles and a book about the Tupac and Biggie cases, I did find myself wanting to know more about the Crips and the Bloods, about the reasons and the hierarchy behind the everyday gangs in
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
I picked this book up because of the hype generated by my students. I have to say, that at first, I was disturbed yet facinated by Shakur's matter-of-fact account of shooting and killing people. I was constantly disturbed by his lack of remorse and by the excuses he makes for his actions. While I understand that life in poverty is difficult and that violence is prevalent, I know that it IS possible to rise above one's situation and be a GOOD person. I know, that especially in the 1970's, racism ...more
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jessica White
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review and more can be found at A Reader's Diary!

I was pleasantly surprised when my teacher assigned this as one of our required readings. Monster Kody Scott was initiated into the Crips at age 11. By age 16 his body count had to be well over 50. By 18, he was in and out of courts, juvenile halls, and eventually prisons. This autobiography is a tell all on gang violence, but more importantly, black on black violence. Monster was an Eight Tray Gangster, he went on to become an O.G. which cou
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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.” 1 likes
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