This book took me over three months to complete. Okay two and half months. Frankly, I am almost gave up a few times. Once I got to the 500 page mark though I was determined to finish it, even if it took the rest of the year.
It isn’t that I don’t like big books, if it has less than 400 pages I usually won’t even pick it up. I love The Stand and that has 1,152 pages (unabridged version). IT has 1,138. So you see, it wasn’t the length of the book that made this hard to read. Of course, it wasn’t the writing either. I love Stephen King’s writing style and do not find him to be wordy. He mentions in a little note to the Constant Reader in the beginning of the Stand that he has been accused of being wordy: “for a writer who has been accused over and over again of having diarrhea of the word processor” I, personally, do not believe he has that at all. His stories are rich, engaging and I can’t imagine the unabridged version of The Stand nor have I read it. So, neither the page count nor the writing put me off from this story. It was just difficult to read. I found it might have been because I watched the movie when I younger so I have this image of John Ritter playing one of the characters and one scene where little Eddie says “This is battery acid you slime”. I recently saw the re-make, not bad as far I could tell, and so had a little of that in my head as well. I think what it really came down to was I just didn’t care. I didn’t care if Pennywise won, or the kids did, or if the whole town went up in flames. Again, by absolutely no fault of Stephen King. I did finish it though, and certain scenes will stick with me, little Georgie and his boat, seven scared kids wandering in the sewer system fighting something they can not comprehend, the idea that there are somethings in this world that go beyond all reason.
This book was published in 1986. The book goes back and forth between 1958 and 1984. The children are 11 in 1958 when Bill Denbrough’s little brother, Georgie, is murdered by a thing in the sewer. The adults chalk up the strange murders that happen to the kids as the work of a serial killer perhaps, or childhood accidents, perhaps they run away. Bill and his six friends, know otherwise. Once they start to learn about the thing that lives in the sewers and comes out every 20 or so years to feed before going to sleep again, the thing starts trying to scare them away. It becomes a mummy for Ben, a leaper for for Eddie, Georgie’s ghost for Bill, a werewolf for Richie, two drowned boys for Stan, a bathroom of blood for Beverly. They decide it is time to kill it, for their peace of mind and for all the dead children. Even though they think they have accomplished it, they make a blood oath to come back if it the events start happening again.
As adults, they have all forgotten Derry Maine. When they receive a phone call from a long lost friend reminding of the oath, they come back. This time to finish what they started.
I will say the movies don’t do the book justice at all. There is no way Hollywood could capture some of the images in the book, the concepts or the internal monologues.
IT has the themes that have become a part of what we expect from Stephen King, horror of course, forces of good and evil and what people do when faced with the choices. Friendship, love, human condition, childhood trauma. Above all it is the playing of fears, it is the unknown and the unthinkable. It makes you shudder and wonder when you wake up at three am and look in the mirror. You think to yourself…is it true? Do we all float?