IT by Stephen King is the story of seven children terrorized by an unknown being, Pennywise, in their hometown Derry.
I expected this book to be horror and nothing but horror. Even if you’ve never seen the movie IT, like myself, we’ve all seen the posters and costumes. You can’t avoid IT. Especially in October when the story rises from the ashes and hundreds of new costumes are made.
I was pleasantly surprised when the book turned out to be nothing like I expected. The novel is a horror novel, but it tells a much more complex story than “a kid with a balloon gets his arm ripped off by a clown and lots of other kids die too”.
The story follows our main characters (Stuttering Bill, Georgie, Haystack, Trashmouth, Stan, Eddie, Beverly, Mike), and the creature, as children and their future adult selves. The two versions of the story mainly compare the innocence of childhood to the troubles associated with being an adult.
This story is one of childhood memories, innocence, and friendships. My favorite aspects of this story are the connections the characters have to each other, and the worldbuilding that makes the story feel eerily real. It’s hard to believe these kids don’t exist after spending 45 hours hearing about their lives. (I listened to the audiobook).
The bonds between the children are what made this story stand out to me and quickly made it one of the most enjoyable King novels I’ve read to date. It gets even more interesting when we see their adult counterparts and find out how drastically time changed their relationships with each other.
The story also covers aspects of childhood I nearly forgot about myself.
The purity of childhood friendships, the joy of making silly games and playing in places adults would find strange or boring, the feelings of isolation, the bullying, the tiny crushes we sometimes carried, and the fears we had.
It also covered a variety of experiences. All these kids are from the same town, but they each had their own struggles growing up.
We have Beverly, the girl facing abuse by her father. Big Ben, who was teased for his weight and felt his mother wasn’t helping his case. Stuttering Bill, left feeling isolated by his parents after the loss of his brother, and struggled with his stutter. Eddie with his overprotective mother, and more.
It’s easy to say that King writes too much detail in this story, but that would be a cheap criticism in my opinion. It pays off here and doesn’t feel drawn out like a book this size could easily feel. The details build the world, characters, and tension that ultimately make the read feel interesting all throughout.
There were only a handful of moments that didn’t catch my attention, but the positive aspects of this story shine brighter than the few dull spots.
Like how these bad-ass monster fighting children somehow completely lost contact with each other after they defeated a demon no one else even knew existed.
These kids were best friends as children. They looked past the things other kids bullied them for, and they had each other’s backs through the crazy things no one else would believe was even happening. Despite all that, they didn’t stay close through their growing years.
They also all ended up rich, childless, and overall successful. Big Ben lost his weight. Stuttering Bill doesn’t stutter. Richie’s impressions don’t completely stink. The only person, aside from Mike, who got the short end of the stick was Beverly. Since she was ultimately trapped in another abusive relationship after escaping her father.
The realism made the story heartbreaking. Aside from everyone getting rich. I do wish that part was real.
This part of the book reminded me of how easy it is to lose touch with the people we value most from my childhood. We all stray from each other in some ways. That’s one of the pains of growing up and leaving your hometown. You end up living separate lives from the people who were once your whole world.
Despite this time apart, they were able to form their close bond again after only one night together.
The best part of their reunion was how they were able to still believe in everything and trust each other once they realized IT was relying on them no longer having the mind and strengths of children.
Sometimes we can lose our senses of trust, faith, and wonder as we grow older.
The older we get, the more effort we have to put into feeling these positive things. IT assumed they wouldn’t be able to believe like they once did, but this is where IT went wrong and underestimated the group.
It’s because of this book’s relationship with childhood, growth, and faith that I ended up loving the story, despite a few criticisms that come up near the end of the book.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the ending.
It wasn’t bad, but I was hoping for a little more from Audry and Tom. The book built so much momentum and tension that I was expecting a bit more of a dramatic ending. That being said, I do still find the ending gratifying.
The other criticism I have is a widespread criticism. The scene is the sewer with the boys and Beverly having intimate relationships. This scene made me uncomfortable. I understand King has explained it’s meaning, but I still find it uncomfortable and overkill. It was a hard section to listen to, and if I ever read/listen again I will likely skip over that part. It doesn’t ruin the whole story for me, but I wouldn’t miss it if it weren’t there.
If you like stories with great character and world building, this is a novel you should pick up.
Overall I’ll give this book a solid 4.5/5 bookworms.
Thanks for reading! What are some of your favorite moments/ lines from IT?
“I like the part where the clown ate all the kids.” Richie answers in his best Stephen King impression. “Beep beep Richie.”
Until next time,
Hiyo Silver! Away!