Book Review: IT

ItIt by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a self-professed Stephen King fan. Not that I’ve read everything the man’s written, but I’ve read quite a bit of it. And if you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’ve been reading IT for the last week or two. As is always the case with King, the beginning just grabs you by the throat and won’t. let. go. It’s the tale of the town of Derry, which is haunted or inhabited by a creature of evil. A creature that kills kids, and which adults can’t see. Horror ensues.

When I watched the miniseries way back in the day, I remember being let down by the ending of it. Things were great (and very scary for my pre-16 year-old self), and then they just got ridiculous. Not that I remembered exactly what I didn’t like, but that was an observation that had stuck with me for the twenty years it’s been since I watched the show. When it came time for me to read the book, I wondered if the same weakness would be present.

For the first 2/3 of the book, things were fantastic. Great characters. Intriguing plot lines. Half of the novel takes place when the main characters are 11 years old. The other half is 25 years later or so. Honestly, I was really impressed by the kid sections. They felt true to life. I loved the conflicts and how they were presented. The adult sections were solid, too–but as a YA fan, it was the kid sections that really spoke to me.

I also liked the way King would bounce back and forth in time, and how the different time periods informed each other. Really, it’s a remarkable book, and the fact that he’s able to sustain it for so long is very impressive.

But just when I was going to give it the 5 star Bryce Stamp of Approval . . . the ending happened. Maybe this is just me, but something I’ve noticed with King over the years is that the man can just nail a beginning and a middle in his sleep. It’s like he does them effortlessly.

Endings? Not so much.

The Dark Tower series. The Stand. 11/22/63. Under the Dome. If there’s a part of a King novel that’s going to let you down, it’s almost always the end. I don’t want to spoil this book for you, but you get to the end, and then it gets wacky. Really wacky. It’s like this taut thriller suddenly turns into a metaphorical piece of abstract art. It felt to me like it just got bogged down in symbolism, and not in a good way. Which is really disappointing. You’ve got 4/5 of a 5 star book. I has a sad.

That said, it’s still worth your time. The ending doesn’t invalidate the rest of the novel. In fact, if you’ve read it already, I’d love to get your take on it. Was it just me who thought it was craziness? Please share . . .

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