Sep 14, 2017

Review | It by Stephen King


Title: It by Stephen King
Series: N/A
Genre: Horror
Publication: January 5th 2016 by Scribner Book Company (first published September 1986)
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered, a good place to live. It was the children who saw – and felt – what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, It lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each person’s deepest dread. Sometimes It reached up, seizing, tearing, killing…

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing. Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of It was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until the grown-up children were called back, once more to confront It as It stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.


Thoughts: It kills me (no pun intended) that this book did not get 5 stars from me. But with an ending like that, how could it? Let's start from the beginning. Stephen King writes amazing books, amiright? We all know he's a best seller and has a million books and you can't possibly walk into a bookstore anywhere and not find at least one of his books. I am not sure if It is his largest book, but it is by far the largest book I have ever picked up, and it was intimidating and I really didn't know I had it in me to read a book this big again ever (Gone with the Wind was the last large book I read; It beats it by about 100 pages.) But I had to. I never watched the mini-series when it aired all those years ago, I'd never tried to read It before, but with all the hype surrounding the new movie I wanted to give it a shot. Was I really planning to read it? No, not really. I was looking for a specific paperback edition that I wasn't sure I'd ever find. Then my boyfriend surprised me with the copy I wanted and I had to read it. I just had to.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD, BUT NOT REALLY. JUST PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

It starts off with Georgie's death (spoiler alert?) I think at this point, we all know Georgie and the paper boat and the sewer and death, right? If not, sorry, I just spoiled the first few pages and/or first few minutes of the movie. This scene is iconic, and honestly we can expect that once you encounter Pennywise, you really can't expect a good turn of events so you really shouldn't be surprised this kid dies a gruesome death.

I guess the first thing I should mention is that I was surprised by how detailed each page was. That's the thing to note, Stephen King writes details. A LOT of them. It feels like stepping into his world when you read It. You learn street names and corners, neighbors and stores, houses, and parents and histories; you learn what's gonna happen to a random kid who just happened to be riding a bike near one of our many protagonists; you learn how a family got to Derry and what they do now, just because they'll bump into someone who knows someone who might be around when the kids encounter something. It's that detailed. There is really no detail left out when it comes to learning about this little town of Derry, Maine where creepy things happen and lots of people (especially children) experience them. With 1153 pages, could you really expect anything less though?

Let's get to the good stuff. You may or may not know, but It focuses on seven kids in the 50's who face It. Fast forward to about 30 years later (give or take a few years) and they have to come back to town because It is back and killing people again. You can get that much from the synopsis. Of course, that's not all this book is about because again, details. We mostly focus on the first six children: Bill Denbrough (Georgie's older brother), Richie Tozier, Ben Hanscom, Beverly Marsh, Eddie Kaspbrak, and Stan Uris. School has just let out and in different ways, these children come together and form an unbreakable friendship. Later they are joined by Mike Hanlon, who they meet while facing their bullies Henry Bowers, Belch, Victor Criss and Co. That's another thing about Stephen King, right? He always has a bully who really tortures their victims, and King does not shy away at how really terrible these experiences can be.

Anyways, they become friends, they start seeing "things" a.k.a. Pennywise in his many forms. The story is told from all their points of views, flip flopping between past and present, and explaining other details along the way. I was in love. I loved the characters, I loved the details, I was creeped out by everything that was happening. I was reading (and listening) to It every chance I got (and it still took me a month to finish) and I thought it was taking over my life. I would think about these children when I let my mind wander, I would hear creepy noises at night and wonder if Pennywise was finally coming for me, too, and I was seeing news stories about Derry on TV at the gym — this actually scared me because I thought I saw it said "Derry, Maine" on the news when I knew that wasn't possible. This book is powerful. 950 pages in and I thought it was amazing and all of a sudden...I didn't. While the characters were still amazing, the details were all still there, the story kind of fell apart. We are reaching the end of the story and it's like Stephen King decided "Fuck this book, I'm over it, let me just finish this off and be done with it."

Okay, it's not that bad. But it's pretty bad. One scene in specific. I was literally cringing, like why? why is this happening? really?! If you've read this, you have to know what I'm talking about. And yes, I've read King's explanation on this specific scene but I still feel like "ugh that was really weird wtf I can't."

Have you ever seen or read any of Stephen King's movies/books? Because if you have, you may have noticed that the story is going along fine and then BAM! *insert guy with crazy hair saying "ALIENS" meme* (you know which one I mean right?!) That's pretty much how the ending of It is which was fine, but I felt sort of dissatisfied with it. Also, I don't appreciate that the turtle really wasn't explained until the end. I really wondered the whole book about it and I was disappointed I had to wait until the last hundred or so pages to read about it. It sounds crazy right? Like am I really ranting about a turtle right now? What?? Yes, really. My boyfriend thought I was joking when I mentioned that the turtle couldn't help them. I wasn't sure if I even knew if it was a real thing (but it is and Google has answers if you want to search up "turtle Stephen King")

Anyways, when the story comes to the end and all things are revealed I kind of felt very "meh" about it. It could've ended so many other ways that could've been better (not that I can think of any myself) but I felt deflated. Like honestly, I felt like Pennywise's red balloon, being filled up with all this awesome air of suspense and creepiness only for someone to let go and let all the air out before I got a chance to be tied up. That's how I felt... like a balloon. Is it weird that I just described my emotions as a red balloon or does that make so much sense to others like it does to me?

I can't say that you shouldn't read It. You really, really should. I mean, of course, only if you like horror or suspense, or are a fan of King's work. If you haven't read It, you really need to. But I am warning you that I saw a few other reviews about this ending, and I am not the only one that feels this way. I read somewhere that King doesn't know when to end of book, always adding 100 pages too many. Or he doesn't like saying goodbye. I get that. But I felt like he finished the first 950 pages at one point, then finished the ending all those years later just to get it done. So be prepared for that. But also be prepared for so much good stuff. Details and characters and plenty of Pennywise.


2 comments

  1. Great review! Just saw the movie and really enjoyed it but haven't braved the book just yet. You've convinced me!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is one of those Stephen King books that scares me too much, haha. I HATE clowns in the first place, so I don't think this is the book for me. What a shame that the ending deflated so much!

    ReplyDelete