By: Stephen King
In the year 1958, an unknown child killer returns to the town of Derry in search of unsuspecting prey. As if summoned, the same being always returns every twenty-seven years, yet somehow this horrible pattern goes unnoticed by the town’s residents. The only ones who can see what’s truly wrong with the town, what’s truly hurting the town, are the very children the creature wishes to kill.
This year, for the first time in the town’s history, an event may alter the course of this vicious cycle. When the series of murders begins with the dismemberment of Bill Denbrough’s younger brother, George, an unseen force begins to draw a team of unlikely friends to Bill’s side. Together, as if by some divine destiny, they will work to decipher the mystery of the creature they call “It” and search for a way to destroy the terror once and for all.
But success doesn’t always happen the first time.
IT is one of the quintessential Stephen King classics. This fact cannot and will not be disputed anywhere in this review, but that doesn’t mean the book was exactly what I was expecting or hoping for. In fact, this novel was quite different.
For starters, IT is mostly exposition about a group of kids building a friendship and coming together to stop a malevolent force that wants them dead. The story is less about the monster itself. If you’ve seen the latest movies based on these books, let me tell you that they ramp up the horror tenfold and cut out most of the details in the story to make room for something more easily adaptable to screen. I was actually looking forward to the terror in the books, but I was not ever really scared. I got creeped out several times, but I wasn’t scared.
I’ve also read enough King now to know that there is a distinct difference between his new works and his old works. Old King gives you the backstory of every tree branch. IT to some people represents the end of that King era and kicks off his writing that’s more to the point and less about character development.
Given the novelization I read was 1153 pages, I can safely say that you should not read this if big books intimidate you or you find exposition and backstory boring. I don’t find either of those things to be problematic, so I enjoyed most of the story. But even with my appreciation for what this book was trying to accomplish, I still felt worn down by the time I made it into the 700s and realized not much had truly happened yet. There’s lots of cryptic dialogue and memories to foreshadow later parts of the story but the progression is slow. Sometimes painfully slow.
Entire chunks of this novel could have been taken out without any sacrifice to the main plot or symbolism. Everything comes together in the end, but that doesn’t mean the story is perfect or that there aren’t times when it lags.
While I didn’t find a lot in the story to be necessarily scary, don’t make the mistake of thinking the story is anything less than fucked up. This is Stephen King we are talking about after all, and this is one of the books he wrote in his cocaine days. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know, I don’t know what will.
The end of the story did sneak up on me which feels odd to say given I had to work so hard and read so much to get there. I guess I was just sad to part with the characters I grew to know so well. That ultimately is a sign of a good book; when you want to finish the story but feel bitter when you do. Regardless of the times the book legitimately offended me and/or made me cry, it’s a good story. It will stick with me for some time.
Overall rating: 4