It by Stephen King

It by Stephen King is more than 1,000 pages and very detailed; set in Derry, Maine, (a fictional town) evil lurks beneath the city streets and in the sewers.  This novel has everything readers are looking for in a book:  family drama, coming of age story, friendship, an evil clown that is much more sinister than he looks, mysticism, a highly detailed world, and triumph.  The main characters are young kids — six boys and one girl — who are the misfits in school for one reason or another and whose families are loving for the most part, though there are a few with messed up parents.  The town is at the center of a rash of child killings and the killer is still on the loose in 1958, and their parents and the town adopt a strict curfew.  Bill, however, is the most touched by It when his brother is killed by the silver-suited clown with orange pom-pom buttons, and his family begins to pull away from one another, leaving Bill to blame himself.

“Smells of dirt and wet and long-gone vegetables would merge into one unmistakeable ineluctable smell, the smell of the monster, the apotheosis of monsters.  It was the smell of something for which he had no name:  the smell of It, crouched and lurking and ready to spring.  A creature which would eat anything but which was especially hungry for boymeat.”  (page 6)

The kids — Ben, Bill, Richie, Mike, Eddie, Stan, and Beverly — join together to form the Losers club and stand up against the town bully, Henry Bowers and his cronies on more than one occasion.  Readers are left in the dark as to how the gang gets rid of It until the very last 200 pages, but it is worth the wait as King allows his readers to get to know each character so well that they become friends.  Readers feel like they are part of the gang, and they begin imagining their worst nightmares come to life when It arises from the sewers to take another child or to taunt the Losers.  King is adept at handling seven major characters and showing readers facets of their personalities and back stories like no other author.  His prose is not flowery and is very straightforward, but he captures the emotions and thoughts of all of his characters well, making them vivid and real.

In a world where evil lurks to strike at any moment and without warning, readers are taken on a Herculean journey in which seven children believe that they are the only ones capable of stopping It from destroying more families’ lives and taking the town down.  Belief and faith play a major role in the book, and King raises a great many questions about the role they play in having power over each of us as individuals.  Some instances of faith and belief can be good and positive, but others can be utterly destructive.  Like most of us, each of the members in the Losers Club has a crisis of faith and this is when they become the most vulnerable to It.

Through a back and forth narrative between 1958 and 1985, readers unravel the mysteries of Derry, the mysterious ritual that saves the town and is performed by mere kids, and are swept up in a journey that will leave them on the edge of their seats until the very conclusion.  It by Stephen King is a fantastic read even the second time around.  One of the best King has written.

I read this is part of the Stephen King’ It Read-a-Long I co-hosted with Diary of an Eccentric.  Please visit the more in-depth discussions for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.


  1. This sounds like a sinister story! o.O

  2. I read this back in college (which is actually quite awhile ago) but it still gives me the creeps whenever I think about it. Pennywise was a brilliant creation!

  3. I have never read a Stephen King book because of the creep factor, but I think I need to dive into one as his writing is amazing.

  4. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much even the second time around. I’m still working on it. It could be a while. Lol.

    • Its great to find a book you can re-read. I can’t wait to see what you think. The read-a-long posts are ready for you to join in any time.

  5. Wow, reading a book of that size is a commitment! I’m glad you enjoyed it, but I don’t think it’s for me.

  6. I read this book around 1989 I think, and I absolutely LOVED it. King is so good at his character development and creating creatures that invade your dreams. I can’t even get near a clown, and I don’t much like those sewer drains either. The movie is OK, up until the end, which is really really hokey. It is perversely fun to see Pennywise come to life.

    • I read it when it first came out as well, though I was likely not the intended audience at such a tender age of about 10 or so. I loved it then, and upon second reading, I love it more. Anna has not watched the movie, so it will be a treat to see her reaction to Pennywise brought to life. I think the end if hokey as well, but what can you do.

  7. Great review! I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to. King is a great storyteller and at some point I’m sure I’ll read another of his books.