- File Size: 3173 KB
- Print Length: 1104 pages
- Publisher: Signet; Reprint edition (August 7, 1987)
- Publication Date: August 7, 1987
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002SR2PKG
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,340 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
It Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
This is the first line of "It," the beginning to one of Stephen King's masterpieces, and probably the most incredible story I've ever read. Those who complain about it's length... they need patience. Those who complain about its characters... they need to look around at themselves and others. Those who complain about it being vulgar, vile, or horrific... that's part of the story, and not to embrace it means you miss out on something extraordinary.
In the summer of 1958, seven friends encountered something horrible in their town of Derry, Maine. This something fed on children, hunting them, preying on them, and devouring them. It could shape itself in any way It liked, whatever their nightmares suited, but always with one trademark: the semblance of a clown. The seven friends all had something in common: They had all escaped It at some point. And in that summer, they learned about It, confronted It, and killed It... or so they thought.
28 years later... A boy named Adrian Mellon is apparently thrown off a bridge by two other boys for his sexuality. It seems like an open-and-shut case, but the boys claim that there was something down below... a clown and a cloud of balloons.
Soon the friends are being called back to Derry, told that It is back. They made a vow, sealed in blood, to return if It wasn't dead. Each of them is now very successful, and the thought of returning to Derry, of going back to the horror that they'd all forgotten, is more than they can bear, but they had made a promise.
"It" is two stories being told at once. One is the story of their childhood, of their first encounter with Pennywise the Clown, their troubles with the local bullies, the impact of It upon their lives, their own personal struggles, and the eventual defeat of It. This is told from the beginning of the book to the near end of it. At the same time, the story of the return to Derry, of the research done to see what It was, the memories that were now urging to return, and subsequent events that followed which I won't spoil here. Both timelines alternate in their tellings to fit one another perfectly, even if not in perfect chronological order, and they're even further juiced with quick points of time long before their own, dipping into what else It has been up to. This construction is utterly beautiful in how it's placed, and completely builds the story up for all its plot points and climax. "It" also easily avoids a problem with many long Stephen King books: Plot threads that go nowhere.
The characters are completely immersive and none are the all-too-well-known cliches. Bill Denbrough is the leader of the group, with a bone to pick with It, and his own problem of stuttering. Richie Tozier has a smart mouth and a big ego, one that hides things from the others that he's ashamed of, even in denial of. Eddie Kaspbrak is asthmatic and weak, but he has courage within him to help his friends. Stan Uris is a sensible and supportive friend, who helps bring understanding of things. Ben Hanscom is an overweight and loving boy who brings his own ingenuity to the group. Beverly Marsh is a tough, yet sweet girl, whose own problems at home help prepare her for what she must face with the others. And Mike Hanlon, a boy chased by the bullies for the color of his skin, who comes across the group with a desire to help, and also leading to one of the more emotional parts of the story, the Great Rock Fight. These are the seven friends whose unity and circumstances held them together against It, and who vowed to return. It isn't long before they feel familiar, as if you've known them all your life, as well as the troubles they've faced, especially those of punk and bully Henry Bowers, whose endless torment drives them into the very heart of It's lair.
"It" is a story that does take some patience to get into after the initial hook, but afterward, you'll have trouble putting it down. The night I finished it for the first time, I was 200 pages from the end and it was already midnight, but I just had to keep going. I couldn't wait until morning. I had to read, see, feel... I had to know. Everything builds and builds, as well as giving off the love, excitement, and horror that abounds, and it doesn't let down. Every single event, be it touching, scary, or vulgar, is necessary to form the complete picture of what may be one of the greatest books you will ever read.
I'd gotten into reading Stephen King two years before by way of a trip over the previous summer to my uncle's house. He had a collection of Stephen King novels and I'd started reading them with Pet Sematary, which had been adapted to the big screen two years before. In the intervening time, I'd devoured Salem's Lot, Carrie, Firestarter, and Misery, and The Shining. I found a copy of the 1990 TV movie adaptation and watched it. I recognized just how much I figured it had to have been toned down, but it was a decent primer (or so I thought). I felt warmed up and ready for the brick-like tome I'd acquired. I was wrong.
Reading the book was like a marathon, and I was prepared for a sprint. I easily identified with the younger versions of the characters, but had trouble with identifying with their adult incarnations. I appreciated the story and the implications of both eras, but entirely missed out on how well crafted the story was. In the end it took three weeks, but I completed the book, considered myself proud for conquering the nearly 1200 page tome, put it on the shelf, and...proceeded to put it out of my mind for nearly twenty five years. Almost, and entirely unintentionally, like the characters in the book...
Twenty five years later, I was on a kick of re-reading books I'd read as a kid, and then I approached Stephen King again. In the interim I'd devoured his books and probably thousands of other books by many dozens of different writers of differing skill levels, and when I thought "I should re-read some Stephen King" I thought about it, and it came down to either reading "IT" or "The Stand" and to be honest I felt "IT" was the better book. I remember it being a mountain for an adolescent. I wondered how I'd do this time.
It was SO MUCH better than I ever thought it would be!
I felt ACHINGLY nostalgic in the sections with the characters as kids. Whereas as a kid I identified with those elements as mapping directly onto my friends and setting, I did it unconsciously. Now I was (at times painfully) aware of it. I longed for the good times and friends of my youth. I appreciated how well King encapsulated the distance between childhood and adulthood and all the roads we travel in between. I reveled in how little we remember accurately about the past and how mutable it can be. I realized that IT was in fact two predators...both the eponymous monster who will kill and devour you, and the predator that robs us of our memories and the clarity we remember having as a kid.
The prose is wonderful. King doesn't use mere words to tell stories, he uses meanings themselves, woven seemingly seamlessly into shades of context and pigments of innuendo and occasionally bright, obvious splashes of unobfuscated emotion that jar you because...hey...in real life that's how it works. And in getting that right, King manages to make the impossible elements like the supernatural nature of IT and the relationship IT has with the town of Derry and the inhabitants there...normal. This could have happened. It could be happening. And it's that esoteric dread that King wields masterfully. The implications. The possibilities. Even in the fact that both eras are now, as of 2016, dated (the earlier phase was in the 50's, and the later phase was in the 80's...eerily we would be neck deep in the middle of the next cycle were it coming) was delightful. It was an added layer of nostalgia woven over the rest of the tapestry.
If you haven't read this book, read it now. Enjoy it. If you have read it, by all means read it again. It will thrill and delight and horrify and frighten you all over again.