Synopsis: IT weaves across parallel stories – one in 1958 that follows and one in 1985 (even the last numbers of the years mirror each other). In 1958, 7 misfit tweens form an unbreakable (and necessary for childhood survival) bond over their common encounters with a strange shape-shifting monster and their isolating social identifiers: Bill stutters, Ben is fat, Beverly is poor and abused, Richie is weird, Mikey is black, Stan is Jewish and Eddie is an asthmatic hypochondriac. This “Loser’s Club,” as they call themselves, spends most of their summer trying to avoid a roving group of bullies- Henry Bowers, Belch, Victor Criss and Patrick Hockstetter are the most vicious and violent group of troubled youth I think I’ve ever encountered in truth or fiction- who are out for their blood. The Losers realize there’s a monster killing kids, including Bill’s little brother, in their hometown of Derry, Maine and resolve that it’s up to them to destroy It before It uses It’s mind-bending and shape-shifting abilities to lure more children to their deaths.
When they defeat It, they take a blood (and sex?) oath that if the killings start happening again they will all return and defeat It again. The 1985 storyline introduces us to the 7 heroes as adults and brings them back together to face/process their childhood nightmares and defeat Its final form – a giant spider from space – for good.
There are so many characters in this story. SO MANY. There were whole sections written from the POV of townies who never appeared again and literally didn’t matter. Most of the boys were pretty generic boys. I was as incredibly irritated by the literal spelling out of Bill’s stutters and Richie’s character voices as I was grateful for them. Those idiosyncrasies helped me keep at least those two apart, but disrupted the story for me. Stan and Eddie could have been the same person. Mike had entire (unnecessary) chapters on Derry history and aside from being the anchor that called them all back, served very little purpose. I get that 7 is a powerful number, but I could have done with fewer protagonists.
The monster was more of comical character than a scary one. It took on silly forms – a clown, a teenage werewolf, a giant eyeball – and popped out of toilets and drains. That’s pretty classic comedy. It was often described in gory detail, but more in a gross-out way.
The bullies – particularly Henry Bowers and Patrick Hockstetter – were the truly scary and dangerous threats. Detailed descriptions of the physical pain Henry inflicted on the Losers and Patrick’s explicit, deliberate murder of multiple animals over the course of a whole chapter were absolutely HORRIFIC.
Particularly how our realities change from childhood to adulthood. Imagination creates a magical and powerful reality as children, but adult reality took their power away. They forgot each other and their own pasts. Patrick believed he was the only “real” person in the world, and killing reinforces that. When IT manifested as creepy little things – like blood in the sink or a beetle in a fortune cookie, the other members of the Losers have to agree it’s real. If it’s not real, you can’t see it and if you can’t see it, you can’t beat it.
While power was never strictly defined, the power of belief was strongly present. As kids, the Losers created magic to chase off the monster because they believed it was possible to defeat. They believed each other. They believed what they saw and that solidified the monster into a tangible shape. Power of friendship was the key to their success. They didn’t remember why or how, but they all returned to Derry when called, aside from Stan who killed himself. They all stood behind each other every step of the way, even when they terrified to near insanity.
Questions to think about:
- Where does power come from? What IS it? What gives you power?
- At the end, the adult Losers start to once again forget Derry and each other, but Ben and Beverly run away together. Wouldn’t they forget each other too?
- What the FUCK was up with that 11-year-old girl explicit sex scene? I couldn’t even get through it. I was so uncomfortable.