Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #5: IT by Stephen King

DISCLAIMER: Hey, so, real quick…if you’re at all scared of clowns, maybe don’t read this book.

IT was the first Stephen King book I ever read, back when I was 12 or 13, which is a completely inappropriate time to be reading Stephen King but get over it because it happened. I can’t do anything about it unless The Doctor shows up on my doorstep (pleasepleaseplease) and even then, I’m not sure I’d change anything. What’s done is done. My brain is forever warped thanks to books like this, and I believe this book in particular is responsible for me writing my own horror stories as a child, stories like The Evil Summer (for which I designed a very disturbing cover). I cannot believe my parents never sent me to therapy.

My dad, actually, is the one who handed IT to me one day because he thought I’d like Stephen King. It did seem the natural progression, since I’d spent the last few years devouring every RL Stine and Christopher Pike book I could get my hands on. And really, what was the big deal that I read IT at age 12, aside from the language and the sex and the…oh wait, got it. I had a tradition, at that point, of reading things that were outside my maturity level, like when I read Are You There, God, It’s Me Margaret at age eight, then asked my mom why all the girls in the book spent so much time talking about punctuation. ANYWAY.

IT is the story of seven children and the unlikely friendship that blooms one terrible summer in Derry, Maine (of course). Bill, also known as Stuttering Bill or Big Bill, is the leader of a misfit group known as The Losers, who spend the summer playing and plotting in a desolate, lonely place called The Barrens. The seven children become friends because each has had a majorly weird experience with the Big Bad that lurks below Derry. This Evil goes by many faces and names, but mostly takes the shape of a clown and soon becomes known as Pennywise aka He Who Shall Haunt Your Nightmares. Pennywise lives in the sewers because maybe New England has its very own Hellmouth? Somebody tell Giles.

Bill, their leader, wants to kill the clown because IT kills children, Bill’s brother included. The kids join forces to battle not only this Big Bad, but a group of bullies led by a psychotic boy named Henry Bowers. IT uses Henry to do all number of bad things to The Losers, but this kid was bad before IT took hold, so let’s not feel too terribly about what happens to him, OK? OK.

Because this is Stephen King, lots and lots of messed up things happen to the kids. Then they grow up and come back to Derry for reasons I will not go into because of SPOILERS and, once again, lots of messed up things happen to them. It’s this whole big thing. King weaves in stories about the Derry’s history, as told by older Derry residents, and, as per usual, creates a multitude of characters, most of whom you’d rather not spend too much time with. But don’t worry, because something really bad will probably happen to all of the people you hate, and even the people you like. So, you know, if you like reading about terrible things happening to people and don’t mind having the shit scared out of you and not being able to sleep because you think that maybe there’s an evil clown living under your bed, this book is for you.

(This is the point where I’d like to talk about the ending, which, being Stephen King, is completely fucked up, but I don’t want to give anything away. BUT YOU GUYS THE ENDING. I was surprised at how much I remembered from when I read it 17 years ago. And yet, as I was reading it, I was sure I was misremembering it, because surely no one would write anything like that. ABOUT CHILDREN. But yes. He did. Stephen King, I thought my brain was a scary place, but you, sir, you win. And yes, I just put an entire paragraph in parenthesis DEAL WITH IT.)

PS: There was also a TV miniseries that, while not great, is worth checking out, if only to see a very young Seth Green, Jonathan Brandis (RIP), John Ritter, the judge from Night Court, John-Boy, and the dad from Sister, Sister, all fighting Dr. Frank-N-Furter, who is dressed up like the most molesty clown at the circus.

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16 thoughts on “Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #5: IT by Stephen King

  1. I love it when you talk about The Evil Summer. I will not be reading this book.

  2. baxlala on said:

    I don’t blame you for not wanting to read it. I think I liked it more when I was 12. I’m not sure what that says about me.

  3. My dad introduced me to Stephen King, too, although he gave me The Dead Zone. Maybe slightly more child-friendly? And then, of course, The Stand. Loved that book. The funny thing is my dad isn’t even necessarily a huge King fan – he liked Under the Dome, is reading his newest one, but dislikes the ones that fit more blatantly into the horror genre, such as Pet Sematary, or Christine.

    • I’m guessing my dad forgot about all the bad parts before he gave it to me? The Stand is definitely my favorite Stephen King book, I’ve been meaning to reread for a while but it’s so looooooong. Have you read his most recent? I liked Under the Dome but didn’t SUPER like it, you know?

      • petalfrog on said:

        The Dome was a little crazy and a little long for me. Too much time spent on the meth storyline. I definitely felt his over-plotting coming out. One thing I like about Stephen King is how he really make you get a deep understanding of the town and the people by bringing in all these extra characters and what was going on with them. I do think, though, his later novels have TOO much of that and feel deeply overworked.

      • No, I haven’t read his new one yet – I keep passing it in the bookstore, but then remembering how many other books I have waiting and putting it back down. I got Under the Dome the day it was released but that’s because it was on sale for $90 on Amazon. It wasn’t his greatest, and most of the characters seemed like they were from other novels, but I enjoyed it, right until the last fifty pages. It seems like his inability to end a book has gotten worse with time.

  4. petalfrog on said:

    I love this book. I think I’ve read it twice? I always had an extra book that is my “nighttime” book when I read this because I was way too terrified to read this at night. It took me over a month to get through it. And yes, the ending is beyond f-ed up. This undoubtedly one of his craziest and scariest books.

    Also, don’t ever read Gerald’s Game at night. Ever.

    • baxlala on said:

      I’ve actually never read that one! I couldn’t read The Shining at night either. I read this one at night a few times but had to do something in between reading it and going to bed, otherwise I had crazy scary dreams. Sort of like how if I watch The Walking Dead right before bed, I dream about zombies. Which I like to avoid at all costs.

  5. My best friend in elementary school convinced me to watch the It miniseries with her, and I remembered being terrified of sinks for weeks after. I’ve had this attraction/revulsion thing going on with the idea of reading the book since then. Maybe I’ll give it a shot this year, haha!

    • baxlala on said:

      I cannot even bring myself to watch that clip, but I know exactly what scene you’re talking about. So freaky. You should definitely try reading it! But only in the daytime, haha.

  6. I love It! I don’t generally have problems reading it at night, but maybe because I’ve read it so many times that it just doesn’t affect me anymore. Pet Sematary, though…yikes. Also I’d just like to say my boyfriend wins boyfriend of the year because he bought me the collector’s edition of It for Christmas (after I made him read my old, battered, paperback copy and the binding finally broke).

    • baxlala on said:

      I think most of my Stephen King books are so old and battered, with broken spines. It just sort of happens with his books because they’re SO huge. I haven’t read Pet Sematary in years but we recently watched the movie. It’s so delightfully terrible, I love it.

  7. So much IT talk on the boards today, I love it. My paperback copy is old and worn and has pages falling out, but I”m going to drag it out and give it a re-read, as I don’t think I’ve read it since it first came out and can’t remember much (other than Tim Curry as the creepy clown from the miniseries).

    • baxlala on said:

      Derry is the place to be right now. Hee. Except I’m not sure I’d ever want to go there, I’d probably be eaten by a werewolf or something.

  8. heather anne on said:

    In all my years of Internetting, nothing has ever brought me as much pleasure as The Evil Summer.

    Obviously, I will never read this book in any lifetime on any plane of the space-time continuum. When I was like ten or something, there was also that “It” made-for-TV or miniseries or whatever that aired on ABC and, frankly, I still haven’t recovered from watching the preview commercials that aired during my soaps.

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