It by Stephen King

Monday 29 May 2017

To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. 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 one'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 they 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.

Reviewing the behemoth of a book that is Stephen King’s It is not an easy task. For one, where do you even begin? There isn’t much that can be said without completely ruining the story (but it’s such an iconic and well-known story, is this even an issue? I’m not sure) and it’s difficult to find the words that do justice to those King packed into one-thousand-three-hundred-and-seventy-six pages.

Within the first two hundred pages, an entire cast of characters is introduced and King plunges straight into the heart of the story with the event that kicks it all off: the Derry flood of 1958. He manages to draw you in and attach you to the characters so quickly that you can’t put the book down – despite the fact that it’s incredibly long winded and also really damn heavy to hold for extended periods. Bill Denbrough is our main character and leader of the Losers – whose childhood adventures we learn about in great detail – and, like with most all of the characters in It, we come to know him almost better than ourselves. We watch as his backstory unfolds and intertwines with Ben’s, Mike’s, Beverly’s, Richie’s, and Stan’s. Things do start out a little confusing, but with a little perseverance things all become clear.

While the chapters (and the book as a whole) are extremely long and packed with every tiny detail you never thought you’d need – or want – to know, nothing ever feels unnecessary or irrelevant. I’m a big advocate for condensing novels so that they’re as short and fast paced as possible, but I have absolutely no idea what could have been cut from It, as everything seemed to benefit the story telling. You get intimate with the characters and every area of their life in the summer of 1958. You join them, twenty seven years later, as they regain memories from that dreadful time. You root for them. You care for them. We even get to see snippets of people we’ve seen before – namely Dick Hollorann from The Shining – if only briefly. It’s a true testament to King’s skill as a writer that he can craft such an intricate character driven story that will still give you nightmares.

Because – in typical King fashion – it will. It is one of the creepiest, most spine-chilling King novels I’ve read in a good while. It’s very reminiscent of his early works… given that it is one of his earlier works. Think of how Carrie is written and combine that with the feeling of fear you get from your first read of The Shining and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what you’re getting into with It. There’s plenty of violence and gore to balance out It’s malignant nature that will leave the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. Our heroes find themselves constantly facing conflicts, and it’s very refreshing to see that they don’t always make it out unscathed. Of course, you want them to, but that’s not the way of life, unfortunately. As you near the end of the story, however, things do lose their effect and you become almost used to the antics of It, but this does nothing to erase the initial horror of meeting Pennywise.

Of course, as with any novel of length, there are parts that are better than others. On the whole, things don’t drag. At least, not in the sense that it’s a boring story. It’s gripping, but very slow. The interludes from present day Mike Hanlon are perhaps the least interesting portions of the novel, but they provide a much needed history regarding Derry and the cycle our Losers find themselves caught up in. There’s absolutely no hurry with this book, so don’t feel the need to get through it as fast as possible: you’ll find you get through it much faster if you stop worrying about it and just let yourself become immersed in the story.

Even with its low points, It is still very much a must read for any Constant Reader, and even those who are new to King.


  1. I've seen the movie, and that was pretty much enough for me when it comes to It haha. I don't think I would have the stamina to sit through the book.

    1. See I'm the opposite! Reading it wasn't a problem once I got started. Still scary, but manageable. But the film? Nope. I do want to see the new one when it's out but I know I'll be terrified and get nightmares haha

  2. Great review! I'm happy to see that, for the most part, the story doesn't drag. I haven't seen the movie or read the novel, but it is on my definite TBR for the summer, because the new movie looks incredible. I've also never read anything by Stephen King before, so this is a bit intimidating, but I am determined to tackle this door stop of a book. Thanks for the review!

    ~ Lefty @ The Left-Handed Book Lover

    1. Thanks! I'd say definitely take your time with it and try to absorb everything, as it can get a bit confusing and I think if you were to try and speed through it you'd get bored with it because it is so big. I don't know if I would recommend it as a place to start if you're new to King, but good luck with it anyway! It's definitely a must read :)

  3. 'and also really damn heavy to hold for extended periods' - lol! XD Reminds me of trying to stop myself from dropping The Stand on my face ;)

    1. I've yet to tackle The Stand but my edition is in hardback so I really hope I don't drop it at all! Was bad enough dropping this :P


Got a thought or an opinion? I'd love to hear it.

design by amanda inez