Brought back to our recent memories by the release of IT: Chapter Two there was only one way to end my October Stephen King-along and that was with IT. A 1,067 page 'masterpiece' that has been adapted into many different television series and films (all of which I am too scared to watch). There are many ways to experience IT but I thought the best way for me was in literary form and, boy, was it a let down.
We'll start with what most people first see when they pick this up, it is long. If you are not prepared for a full world to be built during the narrative then this is not the book for you. You will get bored quickly and the length of the book becomes incredibly intimidating, very fast. Unfortunately, this happened for me and I really hoped it wouldn't. The story itself was captivating but the time it took to get from one part to the next made me what to put this down and give up. King is a world-builder and many credit this to be one of his best qualities when writing but this was too much for me and made me dislike it more as the book went on. When the story got going I was really interested to find out what happened next to the main characters and their interactions were really well written, but then an interlude of unnecessary descriptive text interrupted and I found it difficult to get into the swing again. As ever King's characterisation was well received and this is one of the saving features of the novel. Each character had a voice, an obvious sense of self and a trademark feature that makes them easy to notice throughout the novel. They end up being a set of characters I got invested in and I did cry a little at the end for them.
I was intrigued to notice that the book itself is written in changing time frames instead of just a chronological set of events. At the beginning this really didn't sit well with me as I couldn't get to grips as to why there was so much flitting between the 'current' Loser club and the younger Loser club. Eventually the importance of this became clear, to show the striking similarities between the characters's time in Derry as children and their return as adults. The Losers all forget their memories of Derry and as they remember them, we are told them, all leading them back to IT's lair for a final battle. The time parallels only became apparent later on in the book and although it cannot be written any other way the earlier transitions between time became increasingly difficult to comprehend. I found that this use of reader time travel became more annoying than useful, especially when broken up with Mike's diary extracts.
Generally this story was really good, the concept of a monster being able to take on your greatest fear and show it back to you is terrifying and I had a couple of nightmares whilst reading this. The friendship between the characters and their own development was well-written and came to a beautiful, albeit upsetting, end. The writing was not all I thought it was going to be and it just went on too long for me, the hype of the book ruined the read because nothing lived up to where the hype is. The backstory to the Losers was needed, their pains and troubles outside of the IT story became part of their character and thus a vital part to my enjoyment of the read, what little there was.
What I found with IT and a couple of the other King reads this month, he explains too much for too long and it's disappointing. As a friend put it "he builds a world for the reader, and if you didn't want to be in it you shouldn't be reading the book", I guess I am not your target audience Stephen.