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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027


It - Stephen King I think that when I get into an author at a young age, and I really really like them, I tend to ignore the major faults in their writing. And as I’ve gotten older and a little more exposed to the world, I go back and reread these books and start thinking “Okay, but why did they do this and that’s kinda uncomfortable.” It’s something I’ve noticed with a lot of other authors. Stephen King is a special case as I had a good five year period when I rarely read his longer works, like The Stand or in this case, It.Let’s get the superficial bits out of the way—yes, I agree that this is one of the scariest books that he’s ever written. A large part of the horror is based on the childlike fear that you see things and understand the world on a much different level than adults do, which is something I think King touches on very well. (See also Coraline.) And what really works here is the heart of that premise: what if your childhood horror came back to confront you as an adult? Do you go about thinking about it rationally like an adult would or do you revert back to that childlike state? I love that King manages to straddle the two lines of thought for his characters to deal with, even blending them to the point of the Oedipus/Electra complex in Eddie and Beverly’s cases.I really do like a massive chunk of the book—half of it is in flashbacks when the kids are trying to defeat Pennywise and IT for the first time. I really like these parts as it shows how deep this one summer bonded these kids, some were kind of friends, but not really close. And I liked that it didn’t ignore the fact that your best friends from middle school aren’t going to necessarily be your best friends for life. I don’t know about to the point of a complete memory wipe, but that seems to be more plot-induced rather than age. I think the only thing I could never get a feel for was how Mike and Stan got into the group; they don’t have as close of a relationship to the central five (and more worryingly, they feel like they were added to fill out King’s ethnic quota). And let’s talk about the horror quotient—JESUS CHRIST. (Before anyone asks if I’ve seen the mini-series, HAHAHAHA NOPE. NOPE. NOT DOING IT.) The scenes with Pennywise and the form that IT takes is a giant fucking spider that laid millions of eggs are bad enough alone. And that’s not even going into the literally horrifying history of Derry, which despite all the mass murders and unfortunate deaths, nobody is willing to talk about them and nothing even shows up as a blip to the outside world until the final destructive climax. This is another example of how the adult and child fears work really well; it’s one thing to have an adult understand, but when everyone’s turning a blind eye for no good reason? Brr.So, yes, I think it’s scary; I think it’s effective; I think parts of this book are quite good. It doesn’t mean that it’s not problematic as hell. I mentioned above that I never got the same connection with Mike and Stan in the group as whole. Mike’s only real purpose is to become the Derry historian, and before the final climax, he’s put into the hospital. Stan’s the obvious doubter who kills himself within the first hundred pages. What’s not helping is that Mike and Stan are respectively black and Jewish. Stan being Jewish seems to be the only part to his character, as it’s mentioned every single scene he appears in. Mike has a little more to do, but he does come off as a token black guy, and moreso, the Magical Negro as he’s the only one who remembers everything about the summer of 1958. I also have issues with Beverly, mostly with the fact that the other four boys are in love with her and are still in love with her twenty-seven years down the road.On that note, the climax of the battle in 1958: WHAT THE EVERLASTING FUCK? They have a preteen orgy to get out of IT’s lair? For some reason, I understand why they do what they do but did we need to have a blow by blow account? It’s like I’m expecting Chris Hansen to show up and tell me to have a seat and ask me what was I thinking by reading this book? I don’t know if it helps or not that this was written around the end of King’s drug abuse, but it is telling that when I read On Writing, I went “…Well, that explains a lot.”I do think that if you’re a Stephen King fan or just getting into his works, this is the top of my recommendation list to start with. It does slog a little toward the middle, especially with the jumping back-and-forth between 1958 and 1985, but you’re still hooked as to finding out what exactly happened the first time around, as well as the grotesque history of Derry, Maine. That said, it is problematic as hell, with some trigger issues (see spoiler cut) and some slightly uncomfortable ethnic tropes that pop up. I do rank this in his best works, though, and it is effective at what it does.