Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review: Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel


Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel


A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand. 
Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected. 
But some can never stop searching for answers. 
Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. Along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?


Review: Sleeping Giants was one of my most-anticipated book releases of 2016. It checks a lot of bookish boxes for me. It has a nontraditional format, a bizarre synopsis, and a twisty plot. I was pretty sure I’d love it. I bought it right after it came out. Then it sat unread on my shelf. For nearly a year. Yeah. I’m totally on top of my life and do everything in a timely manner.

I finally got around to reading it, and it lived up to my expectations.

The story is told through conversations between a team of scientists and a mysterious interviewer. The scientists have discovered giant robot-like body parts buried all over the globe. At first, they don’t know what the parts are made of, why they exist, or who made them. As the scientists start assembling body parts, they learn that the robot may be alien technology. The robot may also be the deadliest weapon Earth has ever seen. The way we think about ourselves and the universe will never be the same.

“What I am is very much a function of what I am not. If the "other" is the Muslim world, then I am the Judeo-Christian world. If the other is from thousands of light-years away, I am simply human. Redefine alterity and you can erase boundaries.” – Sleeping Giants


Even though this book is recommended for fans of science fiction and comic books, you don’t have to like either to appreciate this story. Sleeping Giants explores some of the ethical concerns that scientists face. If the robot has the power to destroy the planet, should they really keep working on it? How will this discovery change politics and the balance of power in the world? The characters all have an inner struggle between their personal desire to uncover the robot’s secrets and the knowledge that building a superweapon isn’t a good idea.

“I was smart enough to know it was wrong, but not brave enough to stop them.” – Sleeping Giants


The plot is full of twists and conspiracy theories. There were a few places where I stopped reading and went, Wait, did that really just happen? This is the type of novel that keeps you flipping pages to find out what crazy thing happens next. If you like plot-driven stories, then this is the book for you. The plot sucks you in and lets you escape from the real world for a few hours.

My only big issue with the book is the interview format. Sometimes it works really well, and sometimes it doesn’t. It works well for developing themes because the characters have time to reflect on their experiences and draw conclusions. However, I never felt truly invested in the characters because I only got to know them through dialogue. I never got to see them interact with each other in real time. The characters feel shallow. Most of them are stereotypical badass comic-book-style people. (Tough girl with a troubled past who is so badass that she can singlehandedly take on a whole submarine full of trained military people? Yeah, I’ve seen this character before. In every thriller novel ever.)

There are also a few parts of the story that I think would have been better if they’d been written in scene instead of dialogue. The book has action, but it’s not really “action” because it’s just a character describing an incident after it happens. The reader never feels like he/she is in the middle of an event. Having something described to you isn’t the same as seeing it. The format causes the plot to lose tension at some points.

Finally—this is just personal preference—but I like the beginning of the story more than the end. The end of the book becomes very focused on politics. I read the news every night. I’ve written more than enough strongly worded emails to my government representatives. I get a lot of real-life politics in my life. This book reminded me why I avoid political thrillers. Just . . . no more politics, please.

So, will I read the next book in the series? Definitely. It may take me years to get to it, but I will read it. Sleeping Giants is weird, thematically complex, and a lot of fun.

“Generally speaking, people tend not to question what they’ve been told was true. Scientists are no different; they’ve just been told a lot more things.” – Sleeping Giants






Monday, May 29, 2017

Review: Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood And Scientology – Leah Remini


Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood And Scientology – Leah Remini


Leah Remini has never been the type to hold her tongue. That willingness to speak her mind, stand her ground, and rattle the occasional cage has enabled this tough-talking girl from Brooklyn to forge an enduring and successful career in Hollywood. But being a troublemaker has come at a cost. 
That was never more evident than in 2013, when Remini loudly and publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. Now, in this frank, funny, poignant memoir, the former King of Queens star opens up about that experience for the first time, revealing the in-depth details of her painful split with the church and its controversial practices. 
Indoctrinated into the church as a child while living with her mother and sister in New York, Remini eventually moved to Los Angeles, where her dreams of becoming an actress and advancing Scientology's causes grew increasingly intertwined. As an adult, she found the success she'd worked so hard for, and with it a prominent place in the hierarchy of celebrity Scientologists alongside people such as Tom Cruise, Scientology's most high-profile adherent. Remini spent time directly with Cruise and was included among the guests at his 2006 wedding to Katie Holmes. 
But when she began to raise questions about some of the church's actions, she found herself a target. In the end, she was declared by the church to be a threat to their organization and therefore a Suppressive Person, and as a result, all of her fellow parishioners, including members of her own family, were told to disconnect from her. Forever.


Review: Celebrity memoirs aren’t really my thing. The ones I’ve encountered have all been poorly written. I’ve also never been the type of person who paid much attention to celebrities. (Other than laughing at tabloids in the grocery store checkout.)

However, when I found out that Leah Remini had written a memoir about Scientology, I knew that I needed it in my life. I grew up watching King of Queens, and I’ve had a strange fascination with Scientology that goes back longer than I can remember. Me and this book were made for each other.

In Troublemaker, Leah Remini writes about growing up in poverty in New York. Her parents got involved in Scientology when she was young, so Leah and her siblings grew up in the church. (Literally grew up in the church. Their family lived in buildings owned by the Church of Scientology.) Scientology consumed Leah’s life. She dropped out of school in 8th grade because her religious education was more important. Her family had always struggled financially, but they had to live in some really nasty places because Scientology classes were so expensive. One of the reasons that Leah got into acting was to help her family. This memoir provides an honest look at Hollywood and at Leah’s life. Her acting career and her relationships weren’t always easy.

“Angelo and I had the nastiest “deaf fights” where instead of speaking, we mouthed the words—“Fuck you” or “I want a divorce”—because we didn’t want the baby to be any more upset than she already was.” – Troublemaker


For me, the most interesting part of the book is Tom Cruise’s wedding. Other than his involvement in Scientology, I didn’t know much about Tom Cruise. From Leah’s descriptions of him, he doesn’t sound like someone I’d ever want to meet. He seems very intense and very spoiled. He’s the most well-known ambassador for Scientology, and the high-ranking members of the church will do whatever it takes to keep him happy. They’ll even go against Scientology’s beliefs and rules. The hypocrisy of the religious leaders helped Leah see that Scientology isn’t as great as she once thought.

“I was once a big fan of Tom’s—before I got to know him. I’m sure many people could say the same thing about me or any other celebrity. But this is different; most actors are not in charge of your faith. I don’t doubt that Tom is in Scientology because he believes in it, but to me he has simply been given too much power by his church.” - Troublemaker 
 
“That sums up my problem with Scientology—despite its claims to the contrary, the practice doesn’t help you better the world or even yourself; it only helps you be a better Scientologist.” - Troublemaker 

“You were either all in or all out. It is an extremist religion. There is no middle ground. And there within its structure lies the danger.” - Troublemaker


I remember hearing the news that Leah Remini had left Scientology. I was happy for her because the religion is a scam, but I didn’t realize how difficult it was for her to leave. She’d dedicated 30+ years of her life to Scientology. When she left, she had to rethink everything she’d been taught to believe. Some of her family members abandoned her when she criticized the church. Leah is a brave woman. By the end of the book, I was cheering for her.

Like other celebrity memoirs, the writing in this one isn’t great. I didn’t really care, though. Leah is honest and funny. The book is a quick read. I finished most of it in one night.

If you’re interested in Hollywood or Scientology, then this book is worth reading. You get to learn all sorts of fascinating behind-the-scenes stuff about both of them.






Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Sunday Post #98


The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to recap the past week, talk about next week, and share news. It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Book Date. I get to tell you what I’ve read recently.




On The Blog Last Week







On The Blog This Week


  • On Monday I review Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini.
  • On Wednesday I review Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel.
  • On Thursday I wrap up May.





In My Reading Life


My suspicions that May will be a less-than-stellar reading month are correct. I didn’t read much last week. I finished The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick and started Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein.





In The Rest Of My Life


Five things that made me happy last week (in photo form):



Birds in trees





Sunbathing squirrels




Melting snow





Flowers in the kitchen





Sleepy Cheyenne





Take care of yourselves and be kind to each other! See you around the blogosphere!













Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Massive Spring Book Haul (Part 4)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. I get to show off all the books I’ve gotten recently. I’ve acquired an insane number of books in the past few months. I’m going to show them to you in batches so that neither of us gets overwhelmed.





The One Hundred Nights Of Hero – Isabel Greenberg


In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend Manfred: if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can have his castle—and Cherry. 
But what Jerome doesn't know is that Cherry is in love with her maid Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay. Those tales are beautifully depicted here, touching on themes of love and betrayal and loyalty and madness.





So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson


For the past three years, Jon Ronson has traveled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us, people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly or made a mistake at work. Once the transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know, they're being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job. 
A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice, but what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people's faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.





The Stranger In The Woods: The Extraordinary Story Of The Last True Hermit – Michael Finkel


In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life—why did he leave? What did he learn?—as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.






State Of Wonder – Ann Patchett


As Dr. Marina Singh embarks upon an uncertain odyssey into the insect-infested Amazon, she will be forced to surrender herself to the lush but forbidding world that awaits within the jungle. Charged with finding her former mentor Dr. Annick Swenson, a researcher who has disappeared while working on a valuable new drug, she will have to confront her own memories of tragedy and sacrifice as she journeys into the unforgiving heart of darkness.





Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier


The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady's maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives—presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.






Have you read any of these? What did you think?






Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Review: Sex With The Queen: 900 Years Of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, And Passionate Politics – Eleanor Herman


Sex With The Queen: 900 Years Of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, And Passionate Politics – Eleanor Herman


In royal courts bristling with testosterone—swashbuckling generals, polished courtiers, and virile cardinals—how did repressed regal ladies find happiness? 
Anne Boleyn flirted with courtiers; Catherine Howard slept with one. Henry VIII had both of them beheaded. Catherine the Great had her idiot husband murdered and ruled the Russian empire with a long list of sexy young favorites. Marie Antoinette fell in love with the handsome Swedish count Axel Fersen, who tried valiantly to rescue her from the guillotine. Princess Diana gave up her palace bodyguard to enjoy countless love affairs, which tragically led to her early death.


Review: This book does exactly what it says on the cover. The author chronicles 900 years of queenly affairs and marriages gone horribly wrong. The book mostly focuses on European royalty. It may also make you rethink your childhood desire to become a princess . . .

“When Marguerite caught malaria, she claimed the royal family of Tuscany was trying to murder her, but that she would, in fact, rather die than return to her husband. Louis XIV asked the pope to threaten excommunication if Marguerite persisted, and the pontiff sent her a harsh letter. She didn't fear hell, she replied. She was already living in it.” – Sex with the Queen    


Earlier this year, I read Sex with Kings, which is the companion to this book. As soon as I finished Sex with Kings, I knew I needed to get my hands on this one. Eleanor Herman has an engaging writing style that puts a trashy tabloid spin on history. Sex with the Queen is not a dry textbook. It’s funny, scandalous, and very readable.

Sex with the Queen doesn’t have the same flaws as Sex with Kings. I was happy for that because I often got confused by the structure of Sex with Kings. In the queen book, each queen gets her own section, so the stories are linear and easy to follow. I wasn’t constantly flipping back through the pages to remind myself who was who like I did in Sex with Kings.

I don’t know much about history, so I can’t tell you how accurate the information in this book is. I can tell you that it’s probably not a useful book for academic research. Eleanor Herman is not impartial. She villainizes some historical figures and makes jokes about others. This book is fun, but I get the feeling that accuracy is sometimes sacrificed to entertainment.

“Yet she (Princess Diana) suffered one ancient lament of many princess brides—her husband didn't love her, hadn't wanted to marry her, rarely slept with her, and far preferred his mistress.” – Sex with the Queen


Still, I’ll probably read whatever nonfiction history book Eleanor Herman writes next.




Fun Facts About Sex With Queens


1. Kings could have as many affairs as they wanted, but queens were expected to be monogamous. This was because the king was basically marrying a uterus, not a person. The queen’s job was to have the king’s children. Since monarchies are usually based on heredity, everyone had to be sure that the king’s kids really belonged to the king.

2. Queens were rarely left alone. A group of servants followed the queen wherever she went. Part of the servants’ job was to make sure the queen didn’t have affairs. Despite being followed everywhere by the sex police, many queens still managed to have affairs.

3. Getting the queen pregnant wasn’t always as straightforward as it seems. Some kings were secretly (or not-so-secretly) gay. Some royal couples hated each other so much that they refused to have sex. Other kings and queens were infertile, deformed, or sickly from generations of royal inbreeding. Getting pregnant and staying pregnant wasn’t always possible.

4. Kings who couldn’t get their wives pregnant had to be creative to produce an heir. Some kings encouraged their wives to have secret affairs. One king tried to impregnate his wife by using a golden turkey baster. It didn’t work.

5. Marriages between future kings and queens were arranged by their parents. Some young royals were too immature to understand the whole sex thing. One young couple spent their wedding night sitting in bed together, playing with toy soldiers.

6. Affairs are still common with modern royalty. Some royal families fiercely protect their DNA. They don’t want anyone taking it, analyzing it, and discovering that some members of the royal family aren’t “royal” at all.






Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: What’s In My Un-Beach Bag?


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is all about what’s in my beach bag.

So, I’m totally not a beach person. Beaches in summer are usually hot and crowded. Also, the term “Beach read” makes me cringe. It brings to mind fluffy, pointless books that I forget immediately after reading. But, I do plan on reading this summer, so here are 10 books I’ll have in my un-beach bag.



What’s In My Un-Beach Bag?





Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson


A voyage for buried treasure spells trouble for cabin boy Jim Hawkins, who finds himself in the middle of a mutiny with some of the nastiest pirates to ever sail the seven seas.





Inside Out & Back Again – Thanhha Lai


For all the ten years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food . . . and the strength of her very own family.





Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo


Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. 
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. 
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.





Weird Things Customers Say In Bookstores – Jen Campbell


Filled with fun and quirky illustrations by the award-winning Brothers McLeod and featuring contributions from booksellers across the United States and Canada, as well as the author's native UK, Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores is a celebration of bookstores, large and small, and of the brilliant booksellers who toil in those literary fields, as well as the myriad of colorful characters that walk through the doors every day. This irresistible collection is proof positive that booksellers everywhere are heroes.





Within These Walls – Ania Ahlborn


With his marriage on the rocks and his life in shambles, washed up crime writer Lucas Graham is desperate for a comeback. So when he’s promised exclusive access to notorious cult leader and death row inmate Jeffrey Halcomb, the opportunity is too good to pass up. Lucas leaves New York for the scene of the crime—a split-level farmhouse on the gray-sanded beach of Washington State—a house whose foundation is steeped in the blood of Halcomb’s diviners; runaways who, thirty years prior, were drawn to his message of family, unity, and unconditional love. Lucas wants to tell the real story of Halcomb’s faithful departed, but when Halcomb goes back on his promise of granting Lucas exclusive information on the case, he’s left to put the story together on his own. Except he is not alone. For Jeffrey Halcomb promised his devout eternal life . . . and within these walls, they’re far from dead.





The Bombs That Brought Us Together – Brian Conaghan


Fourteen-year-old Charlie Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life. He knows the rules: no going out after dark; no drinking; no litter; no fighting. You don't want to get on the wrong side of the people who run Little Town. When he meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken. Then the bombs come, and the soldiers from Old Country. Little Town changes forever.  
Sometimes, to keep the people you love safe, you have to do bad things. As Little Town's rules crumble, Charlie is sucked into a dangerous game. There's a gun, and a bad man, and his closest friend, and his dearest enemy.  
Charlie Law wants to keep everyone happy, even if it kills him. And maybe it will . . . But he's got to kill someone else first.





Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound. Her wealthy Catholic father, under whose shadow Kambili lives, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home.  
When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a University professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father’s authority. The visit will lift the silence from their world and, in time, give rise to devotion and defiance that reveal themselves in profound and unexpected ways.





Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From The Crematory – Caitlin Doughty


Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre—took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased.





Company Of Liars: A Novel Of The Plague – Karen Maitland


The year is 1348. The Black Plague grips the country. In a world ruled by faith and fear, nine desperate strangers, brought together by chance, attempt to outrun the certain death that is running inexorably toward them.  
Each member of this motley company has a story to tell. From Camelot, the relic-seller who will become the group's leader, to Cygnus, the one-armed storyteller . . . from the strange, silent child called Narigorm to a painter and his pregnant wife, each has a secret. None is what they seem. And one among them conceals the darkest secret of all—propelling these liars to a destiny they never saw coming.





The Stranger Beside Me – Ann Rule


Ann Rule was a writer working on the biggest story of her life, tracking down a brutal mass-murderer. Little did she know that Ted Bundy, her close friend, was the savage slayer she was hunting.




Have you read any of these? What did you think?






Monday, May 22, 2017

Review: IT – Stephen King


IT – Stephen King


The story follows the exploits of seven children as they are terrorized by an eponymous being, which exploits the fears and phobias of its victims in order to disguise itself while hunting its prey. "It" primarily appears in the form of a clown in order to attract its preferred prey of young children.



Review: Now I know why my old dog had a strange habit of staring down storm drains. He wasn’t drawn to the drains by the putrid stench of drowned squirrels; he was checking for evil clowns. This makes so much sense! He was trying to protect me from cannibalistic sewer clowns. I knew he was the best dog ever. This just proves it.

Kota, the creepy clown killer. 2003-2015.


Anyway, I think most people know the basic story of IT, even if they haven’t read this massive doorstop of a book (1093 pages of itty-bitty font). The main plotline happens in 1958 and follows seven misfit 11-year-olds who call themselves the “Losers Club.” Something strange is stalking the small town of Derry, Maine. The police think it’s a serial killer who preys on children, but the Losers know the truth. The thing that’s snatching their classmates isn’t human. It’s IT: a shapeshifting demon that lives under the town.

The story takes place on two timelines. In the 1950s timeline, the Losers Club is trying to solve the mysteries of IT without being taken by the monster themselves. The 1980s timeline follows the Losers as adults. They learn that IT is once again stalking the children of Derry. This time, they won’t let IT escape.

It’s hard to know where to start with this review. IT is one of the longest books I’ve ever read, and there’s a lot going on in my brain right now. Prepare for a ramble.

The story is about friendship and how adversity brings people together. The Losers become friends because they’re all targets of the same bullies. The school bullies drive them together, and then they team up to defeat the biggest bully of all: IT.

Each of the kids in the Club has his/her own realistic struggles. Bill, the Club’s leader, has a bad stutter and is struggling to cope with the death of his brother. Eddie is an anxious hypochondriac whose mother tries to keep him sick. Ben is a chubby bookworm. Richie is an unintentional racist with impulse-control problems. Beverly lives in the poor part of town with her controlling father. Stan is a depressed Jewish kid. The seventh member, Mike, is one of the few black kids in town and has to deal with racist threats from people who don’t want his family living there. My favorite is Ben. He’s sweet, intelligent, and mature for his age. Stephen King tends to kill off the majority of the characters in his novels, so I was rooting for Ben to survive.

I like that King shows the Losers Club members together and separately. When they’re together, they battle a supernatural creature, but when they’re apart, they battle the real-life horrors in their daily lives. Some of the real-life problems are scarier than the shapeshifting clown. I think that’s the mark of a good horror story: There’s reality behind the monster.

“Maybe there aren't any such things as good friends or bad friends—maybe there are just friends, people who stand by you when you're hurt and who help you feel not so lonely. Maybe they're always worth being scared for, and hoping for, and living for. Maybe worth dying for too, if that's what has to be. No good friends. No bad friends. Only people you want, need to be with; people who build their houses in your heart.” – IT

IT is about memory and how friendships change over the years. The Losers are inseparable, but then they grow up and part ways. Eventually, they realize that it’s been years since they thought about each other. They forget the small things that were important to them as kids. When they meet up again as adults, they’re practically strangers. The reader knows that after they defeat IT, they’ll go back to their different lives and become strangers once again. It’s sad, but it’s real.

“Come on back and we’ll see if you remember the simplest thing of all – how it is to be children, secure in belief and thus afraid of the dark.” - IT

Like in all of King’s books, the setting in this one is fantastic. Derry is creepy because it’s relatable. It could be any small American town. “The Barrens” where the Losers play reminds me of the gulch where I played when I was a kid. The sewers under Derry are disgusting and the perfect place to battle an evil shapeshifter. Everything that happens in the story was easy for me to picture.

IT isn’t the first Stephen King book I’ve read. I think I would have been more impressed with IT if it was my first. Since it wasn’t, I had high expectations. In many ways, IT didn’t live up to them.

First, the book is way too long. The plot sometimes stops moving. There’s one part where the characters sit in a Chinese restaurant and reminisce about their childhoods for what feels like hundreds of pages. After the restaurant, they go to the library and reminisce some more. I have a deep love for Chinese food and libraries, but I was bored out of my freakin’ mind. There’s an evil clown-monster terrorizing children! The clown killers do not need to have a leisurely lunch!

Speaking of the clown, the clown killing takes up a surprisingly small part of the novel. Since the book is so huge, I expected the villain to be hard to beat. It isn’t. There’s a ton of buildup to a short battle. It made me wonder why we needed all that buildup.

A lot of the buildup is unnecessary backstory. We get the whole history of the town and the life story of every minor character, even the ones who will be dead in a few pages. I like that King writes about unwholesome small towns, but there’s too much history in this book. I wanted to get to the clown battle.

IT isn’t my favorite Stephen King novel (The Green Mile gets that honor), but I liked it for the most part. I loved the setting and was rooting for the characters to succeed. I just wanted the end to come earlier. I’m not patient enough for 1000-page novels.

“Eddie discovered one of his childhood's great truths. Grownups are the real monsters, he thought.” - IT