Seventeen-year-old Stephen has been shuffled through foster homes because his mother's nervous breakdown left her unable to care for him, and his father is a shiftless bum. Stephen already has a criminal record (arson, theft) and a beloved older brother dead from a drug overdose. The book's central conflict revolves around the title beast, a crocodile given to Stephen as a pet, which has outgrown the bathtub, and is living-unbeknownst to anyone but Stephen-in a ""water cage"" by the shore of a nearby reservoir. Stephen is about to age out of the foster care system and move to a notorious halfway house 20 miles away, so after four years of feeding his pet butchered pig parts, his plan is to kill it. Naturally, the nameless reptile escapes before he can. British author Kennen creates a compelling voice in Stephen's first-person narrative, and crafts some tension-filled scenes. There is also one great character, Carol, the oldest natural child of Stephen's foster family whom he calls, ""Daughter of Satan."" But the author piles so many problems onto the hero it's hard to know which one to focus on, even for her, as several seemingly important strands are never developed. The most compelling reason to keep reading is to find out what happens to the most sympathetic character, the poor crocodile. Ages 12-up.