Release Date: September 15, 1986
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪
Honestly, I’m just proud of myself for finishing this book. At over 1,100 pages, it is by far the longest book I’ve ever read, and suffice it to say, I would not have completed it if I didn’t enjoy it. That being said, I’m not really a horror person. This was my first Stephen King read, and I was a little nervous about being horrified and/or scared to walk around my apartment after dark. I was pleasantly surprised by the content, however. There were absolutely, without a doubt, parts of this book that were pure horror, but it is such a big book, that they seemed more diffused throughout it, and I could handle them at this less concentrated level.
The book follows the lives of The Losers, a group of seven misfits growing up in Derry, Maine. The chapters alternate between their childhood lives, at about twelve years old, chronicling how they all come together, and their adult lives, as they all return to Derry for the first time since moving away. I need to pause here for a moment to address setting in this story. Derry truly takes on a life of its own. King goes into great detail about the history of the town, as well as the types of people who live there, and a narrative surrounding the homophobia that exists within its borders. Having grown up in New England, and spent a lot of time in small-town Maine, I could picture Derry through King’s descriptions. I feel like I’ve been there, and that was maybe the most horrifying part of all for me.
Within the detailed history of this town, there was also, of course, the history of It, a horrifying being (more of presence really) that resides within the town and preys on children. Although its true form is never seen, it most often appears as a clown named Pennywise, who wears a suit with orange pompoms, and is accompanied by a bunch of balloons. Throughout the book, these pompoms and the balloons taunt the group of losers as a precursor to It’s appearances.
The return of the adults back to their hometown is initiated by Mike, who has remained in Derry all his life, working in the library. He realizes that It has returned to the town after a break of twenty some-odd years. As children, the losers tried, and nearly succeeded at killing It, and made a vow to return to Derry to finish It off should the violence start again. As they are called back to Derry after so many years away, they realize they had forgotten their childhood entirely, but the horror, as well as the camaraderie, all comes rushing back to them as they begin their return journeys. The terror is so great, in fact, that one of them, Stan, kills himself, rather than facing Derry and It once more.
The sections and chapters through most of the book are quite long. King goes into details about different children who were killed in the town, and how they died, as well as introducing many friends and enemies of our seven misfits. He is able to go off on descriptions that are pages long about the smallest details (which accounts for the length of this book) but without making the writing feel bogged down. Towards the end, the chapters begin to flip-flop much more rapidly between present and past, showing how the kids tried to defeat It before, and how the adults are copying their past actions to do so again.
My one complaint about this book is the length. Although I appreciate King’s descriptive style, I do feel there were sections and backstories that did not directly pertain to the narrative that could have been cut. I did read and enjoy the entirety of the book, but by the end I was ready to be done with it, if only to move on to a read that I could fit in my purse.