IT – By Stephen King
Book Report By Vincent
My goal to read all of Stephen King’s published fiction has moved forward with a big one, both figuratively and literally, with his massive tome It. Was it one of Stephen King’s best? Or another miss? Read on for the answers, but one thing I can give away was the most ridiculous thing to happen in any Stephen King book (so far) happened in this book.
It is the 36th book I’ve read by Stephen King. You might be suprised to find that I haven’t read many of his “classics” out of all those novels and short story collections, but in a way it feels like I’m saving what are supposed to be his best for the back half of the goal. I was really happy to finally read It to fill in the big hits list a lot more, but at over a 1,000 pages I knew it was going to take a long, long time. And it did!
Most people might be familar with It from the 1990s mini-series starring Tim Curry as the demented, child killing clown Pennywise. I watched it not that long ago and it holds up fairly well and the visualization of Pennywise is still frightening. But this is not a review of the mini-series, this is a book report. If you’ve seen the mini-series then you know the basic drift. Something evil is in the town of Derry, which is located in Maine (suprise!). The thing known as It pops up every few years to start killing kids. A group of children decide to fight it and they succeed, sort of. The evil comes back years later and the same group of children who are now all grown up return to finally put a stop to It.
Since It is one of King’s most famous works, I’m not going to go too deep into the story. Mostly what I’d like to point out that if you like Stephen King, this book is pretty solid. It certainly could have been better if it had been edited down. And also, because I’m a bit slow, the way the final battle is intercut between the first time the kids fought It and the last time they took It on, left me a little confused at points. Speaking of confusing, one thing that might be really confusing for those who have never read the Dark Tower series is all the business about the turtle (not filling you in if you don’t know what I’m talking about). I bet that’s left more than a few people scratching their heads.
On the plus side, the characterization is great, and if King is good at one thing, it’s elaborate back story. It has backstory in spades. The whole town has a history that goes back hundreds of years. You also get to know just exactly where It came from, something the mini-series completely skips. Good stuff and makes it well worth checking out if you really dig the ’90s mini-series. And if you really dig that mini-series and somehow you’ve never read the book, I say give it a shot. It has so much more too it that the mini-series feels like a skeleton of a story compared to what you get in the novel.
All right, now for the most important and most spoileriffic part of this book report. As I’ve prefaced, I’ve read a lot of Stephen King. I’m not trying to brag or anything, I’m trying to put this next sentence in context. It contains one of the most bizarre scenes in any single one of his books that I’ve read to date. I hope that statement has some gravity, because King is known for having strange stuff in his books. What I’m referring to is after the kids beat It the first time, they get lost in the sewers under the city. They’re messed up, they’ve lost whatever magic that’s been guiding them. What do they do? Why, the most sensible thing of course! The girl in the group fucks the six other boys. Yep! The kids pull a train on the girl. And while not overly graphic like erotic fiction, it’s pretty god damned graphic. In fact, one of the kids is packing some real heat in his pants, because we get to read about how big he is inside her. Talk about fucked up. I don’t even understand why this is necessary. I’m only a little bothered by this on moral grounds, since this is a work of fiction and not intended to give you sexual excitement. But it has to make sense in context.
When I read that scene I had to put the book down. I went through a difficult moment where I had to question whether I should continue my goal of reading the rest of King’s books. I came up with the conclusion that King must have known that I would be on this personal quest and he knew that at about halfway though I should be tested. It’s much to ridiculous to think that it was in there as an essential element to the plot. No, what Stephen King did was to write the craziest, most bullshit moment to test me to see whether I would give up or if I would continue reading his books. Listen here, Mr. King. I’ve passed your test! Onto Lisey’s Story. That can’t be too bad, right?