Mini Classic Review: It by Stephen King

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Welcome to Derry, Maine …

It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real …

They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But none of them can withstand the force that has drawn them back to Derry to face the nightmare without an end, and the evil without a name.

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Eddie discovered one of his childhood’s great truths. Grownups are the real monsters, he thought.

It is widely known as one of Stephen King’s best books, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. To be honest, the only clown in this book was me for reading it.

The novel follows a group of 11 year old children as they each experience a horrific encounter with a creature that dresses like a clown in their hometown. They come together to attempt to defeat it, dealing with their own personal troubles along the way. Over twenty years later, the group is called back to Derry as the creature returns and begins killing again, and they have to find a way to kill It once and for all.

The main problem I had with this book was that it was way, way, way too long. Like, unbearably, unnecessarily long. I read a copy that was 1,166 pages and I swear you could have cut over 500 pages from it, and the novel still would have made sense. That’s because there’s these incredibly long-winding chapters about unnecessary characters that are about to be killed by It, and yet for some reason, the book gives a full account of every moment of their life — and then they die and are never brought up again. I guess many readers would say that this element makes the novel feel more real to them, but I was just bored and confused.

Of course, I can’t not mention the extreme homophobia and racism that this book constantly deals with. And I’m not trying to say these things don’t have a place in the book, because it’s about a small town in the 1950s-1980s, so of course these elements are going to exist. But, my god, it was Too Much. Almost every single page, and I’m not exaggerating here, has the n-word on it. You honestly can’t read any more than two pages in a row without encountering that word and it was so distressing. Of course, that is the point: this book is about violence and hate, as well as childhood trauma. But a seasoned writer like King could have found a way to express this without 500 instances of the n-word. And don’t get me started on the hate crime perpetuated against two young gay men in the very first chapter of the novel. Again, violent anti-queer crimes did (and still do) happen to queer people, but I just felt like it was gratuitous.

I don’t want anyone to think that I’m calling for the novel to completely erase or ignore the abuse many people of colour and queer people faced (and still face) in their everyday lives. These things happened, and still do happen, and it’s important to discuss that. But I feel as though King just overdoes it. There are so so, so, so, so many hate scenes in this book that it got to the point where I started to think King just wanted an excuse to say the n-word hundreds of times. So if you’re going to read this book, and I’m not suggesting you don’t, just be wary of that.

And finally, I need to discuss the most disgusting and disgraceful element in the book: the over sexualisation of Bev, an 11 year old girl, by her friends, her father, and the entire town. I know misogyny was and still is rampant across … every country in the world, but let me explain how this book goes too far. Two words: child orgy. Yep, this book ends with the children — the 11 year old children — taking turns in having sex with Bev. You know, the 11 year old girl. Why? Well, in his own words: “The sexual act connected childhood and adulthood. It’s another version of the glass tunnel that connects the children’s library and the adult library.”

So … sex is the only way one transforms from childhood to adulthood? Not the rampant abuse all of them experienced at the hands of their families, bullies, or the literal raging monster dressed like a clown attempting to murder them? Sure, ok, makes perfect sense.

Anyway, I didn’t like this book in the slightest. I’m not casting any aspersions on the people who do, because I feel like many people love the horror element of the book, but I just flat-out didn’t enjoy it. Sorry.

3 thoughts on “Mini Classic Review: It by Stephen King

  1. Nancy says:

    I really liked King’s early books, but It proved too much for me. The length was completely unnecessary, so I didn’t finish it, so I never realized what happened in the end with Bev. Now I am extra glad I never finished it. But…I do love his short story collections and some of his recent books like Billy Summers, The Institute and Later have been excellent.

    Like

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