Out of all the hundreds and hundreds of stories that Stephen King wrote, none captivated me as much as “IT”. I read the massive book in less than two days (which is a feat if you ask me!) and the reason why I couldn’t put it down had something to do with how well it blended in the Universe that Mr. King created.
I’ll assume you read the book if you are reading this. Or at least seen the very old IT movie from the 80’s which span in two parts (childhood and adulthood).
Do you remember Richie Tozier and Bev Marsh? They popped up in “11/22/63” and started talking about the Turtle and the Barrens and the clown.
Did you see the Dark Tower movie? There was a Pennywise section in the abandoned amusement park.
“It” is also referenced again in “Tommyknockers”, when a supporting character is driving through the town of Derry in a feverish haze caused by the alien- metamorphosis process, and sees a silver-eyed clown grinning at him from a sewer drain – he writes it off as a hallucination caused by his fever.
‘IT’ is also referanced to in ‘Dreamcatcher’; near the middle of the book, when Mr. Gray is trying to find Derry’s water supply, he sees graffitti proclaiming ‘Pennywise Lives!’; also, a bit further on, Jonsey tells Mr. Gray about the storm that washed out Derry and how many years ago around a half-dozen children were killed by a psycho masquerading as a clown.
Why I liked the book
Children handle traumatic horror-filled events a lot better than adults and in a village where homophobia and child abuse are in bloom, these four kids made me believe in truth and power and honesty. And innocence and true friendship.
“Maybe there aren’t any such things as good friends or bad friends – maybe there are just friends, people who stand by you when you’re hurt and who help you feel not so lonely. Maybe they’re always worth being scared for, and hoping for, and living for. Maybe worth dying for too, if that’s what has to be. No good friends. No bad friends. Only people you want, need to be with; people who build their houses in your heart.”
I loved their bonding and the warmth filled me whenever Ben showed up. I loved Ben! Even though the only girl in the group (Bev) loved the born leader – Richie.
“Calling it a simple schoolgirl crush was like saying a Rolls-Royce was a vehicle with four wheels, something like a hay-wagon. She did not giggle wildly and blush when she saw him, nor did she chalk his name on trees or write it on the walls of the Kissing Bridge. She simply lived with his face in her heart all the time, a kind of sweet, hurtful ache. She would have died for him..”
And they nearly end up dying as they face a terrible monster, from immemorial times, a hungry creature that only comes out to feed in a killing frenzy every 20 years or so. These small and frail children band up together and armed with stones and other primitive weapons – they face this creature head on and find out where their true strength lies.
“What can be done when you’re eleven can often never be done again.”
What shocked me about the book and you probably won’t see in the movie
There is a very bad ending for the kids – once they beat the monster and it goes back into hiding, the kids are lost in the sewage maze underneath the city. They are hurt, they are hungry and they are lost. And Bev has an idea on how to bind them together forever into one soul in separate bodies. Bev has sex with all the boys, in turn. She was probably 12 or 13 at the time and the boys weren’t much older. Those cats had been through so much, had seen so much horror and death, they weren’t children anymore. Their innocence was gone, and how better to illustrate this then with…that scene. (still…all six? Yeesh.)
Mike comes to her, then Richie, and the act is repeated. Now she feels some pleasure, dim heat in her childish unmatured sex, and she closes her eyes as Stan comes to her and she thinks of the birds.
Another thing you probably won’t see in the movie happens in the first part of the book when Bev spies on Henry Bowers, the local bully, and his meathead buddies lighting their farts on fire in a garbage dump. Because they already have their pants off, Patrick, one of Henry’s cronies, starts giving Henry a handjob. He offers to go further, and Henry loses it.
“Want me to put it in my mouth?” Patrick asked. His big, livery lips smiled complacently. “Huh?” Henry asked, as if startled from some deep dream. “I’ll put it in my mouth if you want. I don’t m—” Henry’s hand flashed out, half-curled, not quite a fist. Patrick was knocked sprawling.
Other hidden gems
It connects briefly to King’s Dark Tower series when the Losers meet Maturin, the godlike turtle that tells them the evil they call It is really a Satan analog. Maturin the turtle created the universe, and It opposes all that’s good in the world. In order to defeat It, the Losers have to enact the Ritual of Chüd, a psychic battle they learn from Maturin.
The Turtle spoke in Bill’s head, and Bill understood somehow that there was yet Another, and that Final Other dwelt in a void beyond this one. This Final Other was, perhaps, the creator of the Turtle, which only watched, and It, which only ate. This Other was a force beyond the universe, a power beyond all other power, the author of all there was.
When the Losers fight It again as adults, the demon tells them that Maturin choked to death on another galaxy. The 1990 TV movie changed the entire mystical King mythology into a creature with many forms instead of a demon.
Suddenly he thought he understood: It meant to thrust him through some wall at the end of the universe and into some other place (what that old Turtle called the macroverse) where It really lived; where It existed as a titanic, glowing core which might be no more than the smallest mote in that Other’s mind; he would see It naked, a thing of unshaped destroying light, and there he would either be mercifully annihilated or live forever, insane and yet conscious inside Its homicidal endless formless hungry being.