Here at Reading My Way Through Life we love Halloween. Well, I love Halloween. And I always want to do something special for Halloween. Last year, it was Halloween Week where I was reviewing books and TV shows for a whole week. This year, I'm dedicating the whole month of October to this spooky pseudo-holiday.
To start off, I'm reviewing Stephen King's It, the audio version. I started listening to this audiobook way back in July, and I had no idea I would be reviewing It for Halloween. It was just a lucky coincidence.
So, let's get to the book that took me a good three months to get through.
Author: Stephen King
Year of publishing: 1986
Audiobook adaptation published in 2010 by Penguin Audiobooks.
Narrated by: Steven Weber
They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they were grown-up men and women who had gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But none of them could withstand the force that drew them back to Derry, Maine to face the nightmare without an end, and the evil without a name. What was it? Read It and find out...if you dare!
44 hrs and 57 mins
That's right, ladies and gentleguys, this book is forty five hours long. And I listened to every hour of this small town horror epic. It took me three months to get through this book, but not because I wasn't enjoying it. It's just so freaking long.
When you have a book that is a good quarter of a week long, narration is everything.
Actor Steven Weber is narrating this soap opera of a horror book, and he does a phenomenal job. I knew he was a good actor, ever since The Shining. In this case, he doesn't just narrate, he acts. The list of characters in It reaches Homerian proportions, and they all have distinct and colourful personalities, and Weber plays them all. I even got eerie Jack Torrance vibes from some of his less sympathetic characters.
I imagine that narrating a forty five hours long book with so many diverse characters, and with so much tension must have been a daunting task, and I applaud the man's level of commitment.
Yes, I could easily say that the narration made this book for me.
Oh, and the story isn't half bad either.
I think most of you already know what It is about, even if you haven't read the book. In short, It is about Derry, a small town in Maine, USA, and the demon clown that goes by the name Pennywise that wakes up every twenty seven years to terrorise the town, and prey on small children.
Pennywise is considered one of the most iconic book/movie monsters (especially, if you want to believe Instagram). Pennywise certainly deserves to be up there with the other A-list villains. He's a terrifying monster who can take on any shape he wants, and he can possess weak-minded and violent individuals. He feeds on the fears and hate of everyone in Derry. He is the sum of all the townspeople's sins, and crimes. Or as one of the characters put it, Derry is It.
Pennywise's only weakness is a group of prepubescent social outcasts who call themselves the Losers. These vulnerable but resilient children band together to defeat the clown, or die trying.
And now we have a plot.
But the story is not just about Pennywise, and the many creative ways he can kill you. It's about the people. It's about the Losers club, and their friendship. It's about Derry, and its very human, and very flawed inhabitants. Oddly enough, if you eliminate the clown and the supernatural, you still end up with a scary, and suspenseful story that is grounded in reality. Because to me, it's not Pennywise who is the most interesting, and terrifying of the villains. Don't get me wrong, Pennywise is awesome (in a horrible, nightmare-inducing kind of way), but it's the human villains that I find the most interesting, mostly because all the horrible things that they do (like beating their children, and killing innocent animals) are all the things we see people do in real life.
Every character has a rich backstory, and King makes sure that we learn all of their stories. There are multiple POV's, and flashbacks, and sometimes it gets too much, and the story tends to get unfocused at times. Nevertheless, this is also what I like about this book the most - the characters, and their stories. All of the Losers are wonderful characters that will grow on you because they're so loyal, and resilient. King is one of the few authors that I know who knows how to write children, especially children that have to deal with a lot of crap, natural and supernatural.
As someone who has studied psychology, and social work, I'm very fascinated with the way these children cope with violence, and tragedy. Why don't they become violent and cynical in the end? What is it that makes them resilient?
It has believable, relateable characters, and a strong story. But is it scary? The thing is, I don't scare easily, So I didn't find It very scary. But, boy is it suspenseful! It's full of tension, and heart stopping moments. The violence is brutal, and the gore is very colourful. As a rule, I don't like gore, and gratuitous violence, but the violence in books like It isn't gratuitous. Here, the violence has a purpose. Violence is a part of Derry. It's a part of the Losers' reality, bloated corpses and all.
So this is It. A tragic and suspenseful story about small children fighting evil. It's a great book that needs to be read more than once.
I finished the book just in time to see the newest movie adaptations (which is getting great reviews).
Plot: 4 stars
Story: 4 stars
Characters: 5 stars
Language: 5 stars
Narration: 5 stars
Average: 5 stars
This was the first part of my Halloween Special. Stay tuned for more reviews ;)