It by Stephen King has to be one of the best childhood stories I have ever read that both captures the whimsy and innocence of childhood while also capturing the feelings of growing up and losing touch with your inner child. It’s a long read but for about 90% of the time I was deeply captivated by the shear imagination of the children and the town they live in. Most people know this story because of the films, and I think the films are good in their own media, but the book makes the setting, the characters, the mystery, and IT come alive. There are certain things through the book that have me scratching my head about why Stephen king added those details but for the most part there I enjoyed finding out the history and mystery of this book.
This book follows, Bill, Richie, Eddie, Ben, Stan, Mike and Beverly after the death of Georgie, the little brother of Bill. You follow them as adults in the 1980’s as they get a call from Mike saying IT has come back and its time to fulfill a promise they made as kids. Having grown up and forgotten all about the their experiences, a sudden terror fills them at the mention of the promise and they begin to remember, in detail, their childhood. you then follow them as kids and adults as history begins to repeat itself. Mysterious deaths, disappearances, and unnerving visions begin to happen to them as they remember It and how it tormented them. Bill, the ringleader, leads the losers club into battle with not only It but their childhood bully Henry and his bodies as he goes into his descent into madness. What takes place is both a battle of spirit and will.
One of the things I love that the book talks about it is the experience of forgetting. I thought at first it was a gimmick to help us see what they see as they remember but it turns out that by the end it is clear that it’s supposed to be commentary on how, as adults, we slowly forget our childhood as we get inundated with our day to day life. The saddest part is at the end when they finally defeat IT and go their own ways and begin to forget all over again. It made me think of all my old childhood friends and how they all left their mark on me at the time but eventually we all moved on and the friends that I was close to before have become strangers. I really didn’t think that this book would make me think of those things.
there’s one scene I will not forget because of how creepy it was. If you read it you will know. Henry is demented child who grew up in a hard home that made him believe the only way to get attention and love is by doing bad things. His friends are equally as messed up but Stephen king spends some time with one specific crony that is messed up beyond all imagining. it made me uncomfortable reading what he did and how he reacted to it. if anything will creep you out about the book it will be that.
So I want to spend a little time comparing the book and movie. First off the new movies split the experiences as kids and as adults into two separate movies where the book flips back and forth between the past and the present as the adults start remembering what happened in the past. What they explain better in the book than they do in the movies is the fact that It takes the shape of what the kids fear the most. So at one point we see a giant bird, a giant Paul Bunyan, a werewolf, and so on. it all depends on what they kids imagine first.
What I didn’t like very much was the whole relationship with bill and beverly and how none of that was resolved compared to the movies where ben and beverly were the highlight of the romance. I think it was smart not to include a complicated love triangle in the movies and see how Ben and Beverly’s love grows. In the book they don’t have a lot of interaction as adults. instead the story follows bill and beverly because the feelings from their childhood come back. but the issue is that bill is married and is unfaithful to his wife who ends up showing up at the end and becoming catatonic. At the end I was left feeling like the only reason they didn’t get together and ben and Bev did was because of the wife and how she was left.
There are many other things I thought were kinda crazy and would like to share my thoughts on but I think I might leave that for a part two if you are interested. But for now ill end it here. Thanks for reading!