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