2018 Reviews · book bingo · horror · thriller · United States

#Book Bingo 2018: ‘A book that scares you’ – It by Stephen King

Book bingo 15 dec

#Book Bingo 2018 is a collaboration challenge I am completing with my favourite bloggers, Theresa Smith Writes and The Book MuseHow does it work?  We have devised our own personalised book bingo card game. Twice a month, on the first and third Saturday of the month,Theresa, The Book Muse and I will complete a book review post, outlining our respective bingo card entries. The book bingo card contains a total of 25 squares, which we will complete over the course of the year. To accommodate all the squares, we will be posting additional entries in the months of March and June, this will ensure that we stay on track to complete the book bingo game by December. To keep things interesting for ourselves and those following along with us, the choice of bingo square to be covered will be entirely down to us. We invite you to join us in this fun book related challenge, by linking your bingo card entries in the comments section of this post or by visiting The Book Muse and Theresa Smith Writes.


To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, it stephen king smallDerry Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live.

It is the children who see – and feel – what makes the small town of Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurks, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one’s deepest dread. Sometimes IT reaches up, seizing, tearing, killing . . .

Time passes and the children grow up, move away and forget. Until they are called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirs and coils in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

Review:

So, we come to the end of our Book Bingo 2018 adventures and I have quite possibly saved the best, or the hardest for last! The only square I had left to mark off as complete was ‘a book that scares you’. Now this could be open to interpretation as we have seen though other reviews submitted to the book bingo challenge. The book selections have ranged from the horrors of the Holocaust, through to terminal illnesses and disturbed children. However, for me, there was only ever going to be one writer that scares me, Stephen King! And, up until now, there has been certain very famous book and film adaptation that has alluded me, It. My parents deemed me too young to experience the book and film when it first came out.  It seemed to deter me for many years and finally at 37 years of age, I am pleased to say I have finally accomplished a big bookworm bucket list, I read It!

The initial plot premise of It is pretty straightforward, which is surprising based on the sheer expanse of this novel. Alternating between the years 1957/1958 and the 1984/1985, seven children of the troubled town of Derry in Maine face the manifestation of their worst nightmares together. From a demonic clown that lives in the sewer, to blood filled pipes and murdered local children, every possible nightmare variation is brought to the surface in Stephen King’s epic masterpiece. As the children mature in the face of these fears, eventually they will splinter and move on. However, in the back of their minds is the niggling darkness that still resides. Years later, the group reconvenes and finally decide to confront It, banishing their childhood nightmares forever.

The million dollar question attached to reading It would be, was I scared? In parts – yes! From monsters, werewolves, mummies, blood curdling pipes, a giant spider and of course Pennywise the clown, this is the stuff of nightmares. The first scene involving the death of main character Bill’s little brother George, to the sewer, was probably the height of my fear factor. This is a very early scene in the book and it very cleverly sets the tone for what is to come. The female lead of the story Bev’s tackles with a blood filled bathroom was enough to send me hiding between the sheets! As for the prolific Pennywise, moments shared with this well known figure had me averting my eyes, especially visualizing his blood red mouth and razor sharp teeth. In general, I was able to tolerate the scare factor.

I think there are a couple of strong points evident in It that I will take away from my experience of reading the longest book in my reading career! Firstly, King is hands down a master at embodying the voices of the younger generation of times past. A wonderful sense of nostalgia washed over me while reading It. I was able to recall my enjoyment of Stand by Me and The Goonies, classic childhood films that are clearly drawn from this novel. King captures the innocence, awkward feelings, the mateship, bullying, camaraderie, fears, worries and the events that define our childhood. There were times where this book reminded me of my own childhood and the children that I grew up with.  This is a testament to the characterisation, which is rock solid. Through King’s writing, we grow to care for this set of memorable characters as they confront their fears.

What I also liked about the book was the rich examination of the Maine town of Derry. This is a town with a colorful history, an interesting future ahead and it has a strong mystery element that comes from all the unexplained deaths in the town. With a malevolent force that seems to strike every twenty seven years, I was surprised at times that more law enforcement wasn’t brought in! Even though I questioned this part of the novel, the sense of place was depicted very well by King. For the entire time I was reading this book I felt like I was another member of the ‘Loser Gang’. Small town America is presented very vividly by Stephen King within the pages of It.

My main struggles with It seemed to stem from the breadth, this is one very ambitious novel. I think this why I have avoided the book until now, I just didn’t have the energy to devote a whole block of time to read at 1300 page novel. There were moments that I felt like a stringent edit was needed, it rambled, diverted and seem to focus on inconsequential details. However, I do feel the two timeframes worked well and the way in which King linked them together was clever. The inclusion of scrawled messages and symbols from Pennywise, added a great sense of foreboding to the novel. This pervades the entire length of the book and is carefully maintained by puppet master Mr Stephen King.

What I was able to take away most from It was not just the accomplishment of reading a book I have so desperately wanted to conquer, but the unforgettable coming of age tale that sits very clearly alongside this book of nightmares. In particular, the character of Bill got to me and I found myself profoundly moved by his character journey, especially his final moments of realisation.

Ultimately, although I have tackled a few titles by Stephen King over the years, mostly in my late teens, today I am proud to say I have finally completed reading one of the most epic thrillers of modern times.  If you are yet to face your fears and tackle this one head on, make sure you reserve a decent block of time to fully appreciate It. This book may have you shivering in your boots, but the underlying tale of friendship  and defeating the dark world with group force is well worth the investment.

***3.5 stars

It by Stephen King was originally published on September 15th 1986. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of It, Stephen King, visit here

 

8 thoughts on “#Book Bingo 2018: ‘A book that scares you’ – It by Stephen King

    1. It sure is but I’m so pleased to say I was able to read it! I’ve seen the new version on Netflix but not the original. I do hope to watch it when I can get hold of a copy. It’s strange but I still feel funny about watching it as I was banned from it when I was younger!

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  1. That’s too big a book for me, I just don’t have that much time to spend on one book! Well done Amanda, have you read The Shining, that scared the bejesus out of me 🙄 Are you going to do the same challenge next year?

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    1. It’s huge! I also didn’t have time to read it but I made an effort as I wanted to go out on book bingo having said I read this epic title! I actually had The Shining sat here as a back up if I ran out out of time to get to It! A friend recommended The Shining as a scary read so I’m sure I’ll get to it at some stage!
      Thanks for asking about the challenge. I will be doing a bigger bingo card with Theresa and The Book Muse next year. We are launching the card at the end of the month!

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  2. #Book Bingo 2018: ‘a forgotten classic’ – The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler

    Gosh, the book bingo category ‘a forgotten classic’ had me stumped, this one was the hardest of all the squares in the bingo challenge. The last bingo square for this year and I seriously wanted to give it the flick as I had no idea what qualified as a forgotten classic, a quick search on Google led me to the Pan Macmillan website and one of the featured ‘forgotten classics’ book was The Tobacconist, by the time I realised it was more of an undiscovered gem rather than a forgotten classic it was too late to look for a book that fit that bingo square.

    The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler was published in 2012 and is a coming-of-age tale set in pre-war Vienna, 1937 and tells the story of an innocent country boy who moves to Vienna and works as an apprentice for a tobacconist. He befriends the real-life Sigmund Freud, giving him cigars for advice on love. The friendship between Freud and 17 year old Franz is gentle and endearing.

    A masterfully crafted novel told in a quiet, understated and warm way! Quite simply, a beautiful read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bravo Sue! Many congrats to you for completing and following along with us so diligently this year. It’s been so nice to have you on board! I hope that the experience was enriching! I know for me personally it has expanded my reading genres! I’m looking forward to another round in 2019, it will be slighter bigger next year.
      I left a comment this morning on Goodreads about your title review for this one 🙂

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