Chances are, you've run into It by Stephen King references a time or two in your life. I remember my first introduction to It was seeing that scary Pennywise the clown on my parents' TV by accident when I was a kid. I also vaguely knew that the book had something to do with a clown that possibly ate children, and that he probably lived in the sewer system in town.
That's not a bad introduction, but It is so much more than that. The story takes place in Derry, Maine. There is a being in town ("It") that terrorizes and murders children. It is a monster that takes the shape of anything it can to elicit the most fear from its prey- be it a bird, a leper, a mummy, a werewolf. Very early in the book, Bill Denbrough- the leader of a group of friends called the Loser's Club- has a little brother who becomes It's first victim. This sets off a series of murders, and Bill, along with the help of his friends, sets off to kill the monster for good. The story flashes between their childhood in the mid 1950s to present day in the mid 1980s. As it turns out, the evil that was thought to be gone for good was only dormant, and it's back claim more victims.
7 Reasons Why You Should Read It... Even If You're Not a Horror Fan
I'm one that is willing to dabble between genres if I hear of a good book, even if it's outside of my usual scope of reading. Here are 7 reasons why I think anyone should read It... even if you're not one for the horror genre.
1. Losers Club Friendship- First and foremost, the friendship between the members of the Losers Club is one of the best parts of the book. The members of the Loser's Club are Bill, Ben, Richie, Stan, Beverly, Eddie, and Mike. They fall into stereotypes- the fat one, the one with the speech impediment, the one that is always sick- but King spends a lot of time letting the reader get to know them. The seven are likable characters and it was easy to root for them. I loved seeing them navigate through their childhood being attached for their seeming shortcomings and was so happy when they all finally came together.
2. Nostalgia- I am not of the same era as the characters, but I still felt nostalgic for my own childhood when reading the book. King does a great job writing the characters as kids and drives the plot seamlessly between the two time periods. The way he describes the things the kids go through was so impressive- for example, I can also remember the feeling of being ignored by adults just because I was a kid. In the book, the kids are the only ones that can see the evil It produces, and its often brought up that kids are the only ones that have magic in their imagination. It made me long for my youth and the largely carefree friendships i'd had. I was lucky enough to never have been bullied, but reading about the way some of them were (especially Ben) made my heart hurt for them. He also talks a lot about first crushes and first loves in a way that again brought me back to my own beginnings.
3. Kings subtle humor- The book is firmly of the 'horror' genre, but King uses humor a lot between the characters. "Beep beep Richie" is an inside joke between the Losers that they use to let Richie know when he's taking things too far. Even though these kids are literally facing their biggest fears, it still doesn't stop them from being cognizant about the absurdity they're going through and from finding ways to laugh with each other.
4. Death- There are some crazy death scenes in this book. They often sneak up on you and are introduced in such a subtle way that you have to stop and go back to realize what's happening. One scene in particular, one death that Beverly sees from the shadows, is one of the craziest things I've read. It wasn't scary, per se, but it sure was shocking.
5. Finding yourself- Eddie is a downplayed character for much of the novel, but there is a section where he comes into is own and finally acts out against his overbearing, Munchausen Syndrome by proxy mother. He realizes that grown-ups are flawed, too, and that sometimes you just have to grab your aspirator and get out of a situation that feels wrong, even if there's someone in power who's telling you to do the opposite.
6. King's writing- Even if horror isn't the genre for you, there's no denying the skill with which King wrote this novel. It is a huge chunk of a book at over 1200 pages, but very rarely did I feel as though it were dragging. The level of detail is fascinating and I found myself continually wondering how someone could be so talented. The chapters go between the child Losers and the adult Losers and the transitions are exquisite. At no point was I wondering if I was reading about the past or the present day- which is impressive, considering some of the chapters switched mid-sentence!
7. Before the movie- Finally, you should read Stephen King's It before the movie re-make comes out in September! I hate scary movies, but this one looks too good to pass up. I wanted to be in on the conversation, too, and figured I might have a better time sitting through something scary if I had a vague idea about what was coming!
Publication Date: September 1986
Page Count: 1168
First Sentence: "The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years- if it ever did end- began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain."
Favorite Quote: "Maybe, he thought, 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."
Rating: 5/5 This is one of the best books I've ever read. I've always claimed The Stand as my #1 favorite Stephen King book, but in this moment I think It might have overtaken the #1 spot. It's truly a masterpiece.
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