Tuesday, 10 September 2013 1 comments

MyBOOKreview: It by Stephen King

Here goes another book review of Stephen King’s after the previous one. It’s not that I decided to do a reading marathon of his novels; I just couldn’t find time to write about the other novels that I read due to time constraint or should I say that procrastination also got in the way. I decided to give Stephen King another try after being slightly disappointed by his The Shining. It wasn’t that it was not a good story – it had many good reviews – the horror just didn’t do it for me. However, I made a great decision to read his other bestseller, It, as it is not only powerful in term of the story contents but the way the story is constructed is hands down genius. It is also probably one of the longest novels that I had read with near to 1000 pages. It was published long before I was born, in 1986, but only until now that I have the chance to get my hands on it.

What It is about?

    The story revolves around the friendship of seven fifth grade children, which they themselves call as The Losers, in Derry, Maine. All of them didn’t begin as friends but they were united after sharing their strange occurrences to each other. Bill Denbrough, after the death (or more accurately, the murder) of his younger brother, George, found a photo album that his brother kept and saw a picture of his brother winking at him followed by blood coming out from the photograph. Ben Hanscom saw a mummy holding some floating balloons in falling snow after he got back from the library. Eddie Kapsbrak was chased by a werewolf in an abandoned house. Beverly had her bathroom smeared with blood all over, which only she could see but not her dad, after a balloon came out of the sink and popped by itself. Stan Uris was almost caught by something that he thought of a strange underwater creature. Mike Hanlon, while strolling in an abandoned field was chased down by a giant bird. Only the seventh kid, Richie Tozier, who didn’t experience any weird encounters like his friends did at the beginning. Every about 27 years, the town of Derry will be visited by the strange disappearances of young children which no one could explain. In fact, no one even noticed about the cycle of the event as in Derry, people come and go and forget. The monster which The Losers called as It did not only take one form when It goes down hunting for kids. It would appear in the form that the child’s mine is mostly scared of. In the case of Ben and Eddie, they saw It as a mummy and a werewolf because they happened to recently watch some shows which featured those monsters. As their friendship built, they had  to face a few incidents against It while at the same time having to deal with the notorious school bully, Henry Bowers, and his few other accomplices. They finally made the decision to kill It, which they did, and swore to come back to Derry again when they grow up if It comes back. Their childhood time was set in 1958 and 27 years after, in 1985, they were called by Mike who was the only one from the Losers club to have stayed in the town. Strange news about children disappearance had started to take place again and convinced that it meant for the return of It, every one of them made their way back to Derry to make up for their promise. Everyone got the call from Mike, but only six came back; Stan killed himself in the bathtub after hearing the news from Mike. The twist for this time is that they had all forgotten what had happened when they fought with It. They forgot about how their first encounters with It were like, let alone how they fought with It. As the story grows, they begin to have recollections of what had happened 27 years back until they found out their way to the underground tunnel and killed It in its lair just like what they did when they first put It down. 

Why It is worth a reading

    In the beginning, I found it hard to understand how the story would go like. The first chapter started with the story of how Bill’s brother was killed by It who appeared as a clown, a form that It would usually use when making appearances to the children. It was in the year of 1958. And suddenly the second chapter jumped into the year of 1985. That was another story about a young man who was murdered in a river during the town’s fair. All of the witnesses claimed to see a clown wearing white gloves and pompom buttons on its shirt while holding some balloons doing something like biting the man’s arms. To be honest, I was a little clueless after reading the first two long chapters and thought that it was just a random move made by the author to tell about the horrendous murders performed by It in two different periods. Later in the story that I know that there was the 27 years cycle which would start with one big massacre which kills many people of that town. This information I got after reading the excerpts of a diary about Derry that Mike Hanlon kept and sought to publish to explain about the weird incidents that were taking place in Derry (which in the end he decided not to publish). And then the novel continues with the individual stories of the 6 children (except for Mike because he was the one in Derry and so who made the calls) who had become grownups now that it was the year of 1985, about what had happened to them after they left Derry and how they reacted after they got the calls from Mike to come back to Derry. There was no hint about It at first, and there was no in depth stories of what were they thinking after getting the calls. Later (probably some few long chapters after), it was revealed that they had all forgotten about what had happened in their childhood. They remembered of It and how terrible It had been, but they couldn’t quite get the stories in detail. As I read further, I begin to pick up details as they began to regain their memory once they were reunited in Derry. At first glance, it was pretty doubtful to learn that they had nothing to recall from the memory of their childhood, especially since they were the ones who fought with It and ended the event in 1958. Yet again, they were all adults now and had their own ways, and most importantly they had left Derry. Surely their childhood moments would have faded with time even the horrifying ones.

   I am such impressed of how the story goes. It would go back and forth between 1985 and 1958 and you would find yourself picking up the puzzles here and there and putting them in the right spots until you are able to finally see the complete picture and you will be thinking, “Ah, so that’s what happened.”. If there was something that I wasn’t very clear about, I know that I have the confidence in the author because from the way he writes it, he would surely make the matter known with minute details. I know that I can surely find the missing pieces that I had in my mind as I was reading, if not very soon then in the later parts of the novel. It’s not like when you watch some movies where you would have questions like “So what happens to this person?” or “What does he mean when he says this?”, I felt completely satisfied after finishing the story. The way the story was constructed felt to me as the biggest part of the novel and what makes it so powerful. To think about how he managed to put it all together like that just awed me very much. The novel alternates from a story of one character to another and from a period to another period a lot, but King successfully guides the readers and not make them lost in his storytelling.       
   I also found that as I read more about the characters, I’d grown to fond each of them. Every characters is very distinctive to one another and because King writes about almost the full history and background of each of them, it felt to me as if I’ve known them like I know my real friends: Big Bill as the leader of the club, Ben with his building skills, Eddie with his excellent navigation, Bev the sharp shooter, Richie the man of many voices and Stan being the smartest one. When conversation takes place between the seven main characters, King writes it in a way that makes you feel as if you are being in the same scene with them and that you are sharing the same concern that they have. 

  My initial expectation from reading the novel was simply to get haunted by the story. But I get more than that. The superior way of King’s writing adds a striking element to the novel, and it is definitely very much worth a reading. Definitely one of the best novels I had ever read.