Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Review: IT by Stephen King

ItIt by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars.

I remember reading this years ago, as a teenager, and occasionally I've thought of it - IT - again.

Of course, in part that's because Pennywise has become embedded in society's subconscious, in a way - a lot of people's fear of clowns would trace back to this book, I'm sure.

I decided to listen to the audiobook for this one because it was so highly rated, and I can see why. Derry really comes *alive* in listening to this, in a way that I don't think it would have had I just reread it plainly. Steven Weber did an absolutely phenomenal job and really added to the experience.

For me, this book really transcended the 'horror' genre. It's not 'just' horror, and I don't say that to denigrate horror, as it's one of my favourite genres and I think so much can be done within it. King has obviously built a work of art within the horror genre, here, but he's also done more than that. I say that because it really encompassed so much more than that. 'IT' is an examination of bullying, of 1950's American society, of racism and sexism and domestic violence, of relationships, of what it's like to grow up with parental abuse that isn't physical but is abuse nonetheless. And the monsters on these pages aren't always 'IT' - instead they're people just like you and me, people with evil within them.

'IT' is a book that is downright horrifying at times and creepy, but also - for me - incredibly moving, too. Towards the end I found myself on the verge of tears, because the book isn't just about horror and gore and that terror that wakes you in the middle of the night in sweaty and tangled bedsheets, it's also about friendship and bravery and love, a very powerful love. It's about the magic of childhood and why all of us love those movies so much, movies like Stand By Me and Now and Then and so many others. There's power in the magic of childhood, the memories that have a soft haze over them.

This probably would have been a five star book for me if not for the one scene towards the end. Even on a reread as an adult I'm not quite sure why King included it, though 'desire' seems to be a very important theme for him in this book. I have a ton of respect for King, but it still doesn't really work for me and detracted a bit from the story arc, imo. Perhaps he intended it to be a scene where Beverly reclaims her power and agency, but it still felt unnecessary.

All the same, this book has lodged itself on the list of favourites, for me. I can tell because there's part of me that wants to start reading it all over again.

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