“I think that It is the most Dickensian of my books because of its wide range of characters and intersecting stories. The novel manages a lot of complexity in an effortless way that I often wish I could rediscover”. SK
Masterpiece. That’s what I call this novel by Stephen King. Every page in this 1,138 page epic is simply amazing. I don’t think that King has ever written anything quite like this novel since as far as depth and complexity with the characters. He’s written a lot of great work over the years since IT came out, but in my opinion this novel is head and shoulders above them all. There’s a certain intangible quality to this novel that I haven’t found with any of his work since.
So why does IT work?
- IT works because of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Or Bob Gray. Or IT. Whatever you want to call the monster/alien of Derry, it is perhaps the best supernatural villain of all of King’s works. IT is the embodiment of every nightmare, every child’s fear whether it be the wolfman, the mummy, Dracula, Jaws, a giant prehistoric bird, or an abusive parent in Beverly’s case.
- IT works because we get to see how IT came to earth. We get to read about how long IT has been causing carnage to the small Derry town from the olden days all the way up to the modern days. It was fascinating to me as a reader that King was able to have Pennywise be a part of and causing some of the worst atrocities in Derry’s long history. Derry had a long and bloody history and Pennywise was the one that lit the fuse in all instances.
- IT works because the entire town had pretty much learned over the long years that IT was a part of the town just as much as the citizens were (even though they had no idea what exactly what IT was). When things would begin to go deadly wrong in Derry, people would just try to turn their eyes away and either not think about it or just wait until the cycle ended for another 27 years. I think King used his “small town values” really well in this novel much like he exercised them in ‘Salem’s Lot where people tried to dismiss the fact that the town was turning into the un-dead. People know that something is wrong in Derry and always has been, but as long as you ride it out IT will go back to wherever it sleeps and hibernate for another 27 years. To the townsfolk, that would be a welcomed nearly three decades worth time of peace. King does great when writing about small town secrets that everyone knows but do nothing to stop it.
- IT works because King wrote some of the best kids in any of his works: The Losers. Each one of them brought something to the table as children to defeat IT. And the crazy thing was that Pennywise knew that the Losers were formidable and for the first time in forever, literally, IT was frightened by the power of the Losers. So much so that IT tried to divide and conquer them using Henry Bowers twice and Alvin Marsh (Bev’s father) in human forms. IT was afraid of the Losers as much as they were afraid of IT.
- IT works because King like in another one of his works, The Body, takes us back to a time when we were kids and had the best friends a kid could have. We’ve all been there at one point in our childhood; having friends that we thought would stick around forever only to find out that as the older we get the more everyone drifts apart. This was what I found identifiable with IT. The Losers were so close during that summer, so connected, that it was kind of a stunner that they barely remembered each other as they reunited back in Derry in 1985. Then I realized that me and my friends are like that. I barely know them nowadays. But isn’t that how some things are? When you’re kids you’ll think you’d never forget your pals, but as you age, the years strip away more and more of your memories until you can only barely recall what it was like being a kid around your friends. I like that aspect of IT as it pertained to years gone by. Sometimes there’s nothing more powerful than just being a kid around your friends. I think I got that message loud and clear from King.
- IT works because there’s more than just Pennywise that messed with the Losers. You had Henry Bowers. Bowers was to me the every bully. And I swear to God every small town has them and everyone, adults and kids, knows who they are. In smaller towns they’re more infamous. King has always been able to write a good bully character. Maybe he’s seen a few in his time like we’ve all had. I think Bowers works really well because he is a tormentor to the Losers much like Pennywise is but in human form. And eventually Pennywise is able to turn Bowers by using him to try to kill the kids. So it’s basically in 1958 the Losers v. Pennywise and all his bag of tricks and Henry Bowers and his goons. Let’s not forget that an older Bowers comes back to Derry in 1985 summoned by Pennywise in the moon to get revenge on the brats that deviled him that summer.
- IT works because of its length. Some people will say that this book is just too damn big. That can turn people off and has to the casual King reader. But the hardcore readers like you and me thrive on the more lengthy novels. IT could have went longer, really. I think there was still a lot of plot points and characters’ back stories to mine. But in the end, King was able to strike a perfect balance with the length. 1,138 pages was long, but if you were like me you could have kept going.
- IT works because King doesn’t have the Losers kill IT in 1958 until the final act in the book where he flickered between there an 1985. I liked that flipping back and forth. Some people have argued that he should have broken the book into two parts like the miniseries did: the front part of the book about 1958 and the last part about going back in 1985. I disagree with this notion. I think that King paced the book very well. I think having us see Stan kill himself as an adult early on when Mike began calling all the Losers back home was a ballsy move on King’s part. When that happened you just knew that things were serious. So serious in fact that Stan couldn’t bear to return to Derry and fight the nightmare again. I thought that set the tone for the rest of the book as far as the Losers going forward in 1985.
- IT works because it’s the most imaginative novel in King’s library. This excludes any of the Dark Tower books because let’s be honest those books are in a different stratosphere all by themselves. When I say most imaginative think about what he had in there: the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, the Mummy, Frankenstein’s monster, Jaws (in the canal), the werewolf from I Was A Teenage Werewolf flick, Christine even made an appearance, dead kids in the Standpipe where Stan was in 1958, a prehistoric bird that tried to kill Mike, dead kids’ voices in the drains, the pictures coming to life in Georgie’s room and the photo album that Mike had, IT’s truest form (a spider), and last but certaitly not least a clown named Pennywise. Whew…there’s a lot of stuff going on.
- IT works because it’s an awesome, entertaining read. From beginning to end this novel kept me interested and turning the pages…all 1,138 of them.
- IT works because at the end it makes you sad because everyone is forgetting the events and most importantly each other. I especially felt a pang of sadness when the names in Mike’s address book, the names of Stan, Eddie, Bill, Beverley, Richie and Ben begin to fade off the page. Mike begins to forget the simple things like their last names and what was wrong with Eddie. It was as if later on they were never friends at all. And I think after all that we, the reader, went through with those characters, it hits us kind of hard when a couple of them die and the rest of them begin to fade in the memories of each other. You just know that eventually that none of them will remember anything or each other because they had finally ridded the world of IT.
IT brings it…5/5 (Klassic King)