IT by Stephen King (BOOK REVIEW) 5/5
Let me pitch a story to you: A story about the power in believing in something, about why children can believe in things that adults lose the ability to. Sounds simple enough, right? Now let’s add a bit to it. Let’s throw in a big scary monster- but WAIT! Make it female, and pregnant, because that’s just even more terrifying. Let’s throw in some small town prejudices- a little racism here, a little abuse there, a whole lotta hypochrondria this way and a terrifying blind eye that way. Let’s sprinkle on some questionable sexual content, some hardcore bullying. But let’s add some goodness to it. Some strong friendships, some chuckalicious humor, a healthy dose of good overcoming evil, and we’ll top it off with a hefty amount of the good ol’ days to make it relatable and charming.
There, now you have IT by Stephen King, a damn good novel. Daunting, no doubt, by the size of its content and the legend of certain scenes within, but I am thoroughly glad I read it. Even though it did take me a month and a half… IT, to me, is a wonderful introduction to what kind of writer Mr. King is. The underlying story is a classic we all love- kids who believe in the impossible, in magic, in good and evil, in Santa Claus and the boogeyman and the tooth fairy. There’s a wonderful charm in the perspectives of the kids in this book, and a beautiful realism into their transition from kids to adults. Stephen King has no issue with writing varied personalities and minds. Bill, Ritchie, Eddie, Ben, Stan, Mike, and Beverly really found a place in my heart, I found reasons to adore all of them. I think many writers would struggle with the change from them being children to them being adults, but Mr. King pulled it off with incredible accuracy. While some people might find the switching timelines and perspectives confusing, I didn’t. I thought it was masterfully done, and found myself looking forward to each different section..
Throughout the book, there are also interludes of history from Mike, switching point of view as he speaks directly to us about what he’s learned about Derry, having become a local historian. These were among my favorite parts. I will say that you cannot read IT if you are easily offended- Mr. King writes his characters from their perspective, not his, with a shocking dose of real issues like racism. There are several lines within this book that could easily cause offense, whole sections that can make your stomach churn, and I don’t think this is a book for the politically correct. It also is not a book for those who cannot handle the grotesque. I am a lifelong horror fan, so this book didn’t bother me- but for some, the scenes within will bring discomfort. There are at least five parts, off the top of my head, that struck me as visually disturbing or phobia inducing, so read at your own caution. I can warn you that the most uncomfortable sections were often in the perspective of Beverly or the bullies.
That said… this book really is a must read. It’s large, but the messages within are important. There are several nuggets of wealth within this book for people to uncover, and it might take multiple reads to fully comprehend the little details. I found a lot of joy in Mr. King’s many references, some to his very own novels- like finding Dick Halloran from The Shining was present at the fire of the Blackspot in IT. The horror itself is top notch, and follows the realization that the scariest things are not, in fact, supernatural or paranormal- but rather, the scariest things tend to be the ones steeped in reality, things that could truly happen. The most deplorable piece of this novel was, to me, the story of Patrick Hockstetter. Those who have read it know exactly what I’m talking about.
I could sit here and try to analyze each bit I liked or disliked, and try to form a cohesive thought process for the experience I had reading this novel, but the truth is- you just have to read it. There’s too much to unfold here. What I can say is that if you make it through this massive read, I don’t think you would regret it. It’s an experience many avid readers should have, for better or for worse.