August 12, 2009


Title : IT
Author : Stephen King
Reading Dates : 11 Aug - 20 Aug 2009

Book Summary of IT.

The story is set in Derry, Maine with events starting when the main characters are mere children.

The cycle of deaths started in October 1957 with a creature referring to himself as Mr Bob Gray or Pennywise the Dancing Clown luring 6-year old George Denbrough to his death. In time, the protagonists would learn that this cycle of death has continually repeated itself almost every 27 years since Derry first existed, and that IT itself was there before Derry existed.

The formation of the circle of 7 friends which would be responsible for ending IT's reign of terror in 1958 started on the first day of summer vacation. While attempting to escape from school bullies Henry Bowers, Belch Huggins and Victor Criss, fat Benjamin Hanscomb unwittingly leads those 3 to stuttering William Denbrough and ashmatic Eddie Kasprak who are attempting to build a dam in the Barrens of Derry. A friendship is formed when Ben offers to show Bill and Eddie how to build their dam. This friendship includes Richard "Trashmouth" Tozier, who is already best friends with Bill, and young Jew Stanley Uris whom Richie invites along. Their circle continues to widen when Richie, Ben and Beverly Marsh face off against Henry's bullies. And closes with the final addition of black Michael Hanlon, when the 6 friends helps him fight off Henry's gang. Unintentional though it may have been, Henry Bowers and his friends served as the instrument to bring the 7 11-year olds together to defeat IT.

As each of the friends recounts their own supernatural or near fatal encounter with a creature able to take on the appearance of their worst fears, they come to realize that the perpetrator of the recent child mutilation murders is not human, but a monster living within Derry's underground. Driven by Bill Denbrough's need to avenge his brother's death and guided by an unseen counter force to IT, the 7 members of the Losers' Club, goes into the sewers and defeats IT. After severely wounding the monster, the children makes a promise to come back should IT ever returns.

The deaths start anew in July 1984 with what appears to be the murder of Adrian Mellon by 3 teenagers. And yet, in 2 separate accounts, a clown was reportedly on the scene of the crime.

Mike Hanlon, is the only one of the 7 friends to stay on as Derry, and also the only 1 who still remembers some of the events of their childhood. After seeing a message written in the latest victim's blood "come home come home come home", Mike makes the dreaded calls to his childhood friends in May 1985 to summon them back to Derry and hopefully end this terror for all time. Of the 6 friends who left, only 5 returns. Unable to bear the weight of his returning memories, Stan kills himself. Once reunited, the 6 friends realize that they are in a desperate race against time, both to remember all that happened before and to reform a new smaller circle, if they are to defeat IT once again.

Unknown to them, IT has drawn both enemies old and new as well as family to be used as weapons against the 6. Their childhood nemesis Henry who is mentally ill, Beverly's abusive husband Tom Rogan and Bill's wife, Audra has been drawn into the battle in Derry as well. Henry severely wounds Mike, before he is killed by Eddie. Meanwhile, Tom kidnaps Audra and brings her to IT.

With Mike hospitalized, only 5 of the friends enters Derry's underground labyrinth. In the end, the friends defeats and destroys IT. But unlike the last time when they all escaped, Eddie sacrifices his own life to save Bill and Richie's. As the friends bid goodbye before returning to their homes, they realize that as before they are forgetting the events in Derry again. And this time unlike before, there will be none left to remember their friendship.

Book Review of IT.
I like IT but I can't love it. There are 2 reasons mainly. The first is the tendency for the story to ramble at strange junctures. I suppose some of it is necessary in order to give a certain flavour or tone to the story. It is in these ramblings that we often find out additional clues or information regarding "unseen" links between events in the past and present. However, after a time, I tend to skip over some over some of these parts.

The second is the ending. The best part of the book is the friendship and camaraderie these 7 friends share. The love and trust which allowed the friends to follow Bill into the sewers when they were barely children to defeat a monster. That same shared history which would bring them home for a promise almost all of them barely remembers. To know that in the end, that the price for defeating IT is their memories and love robs the "good" from the story. Not only will these friends forget each other, they will forget their lost friends as well. How can there be justice in forgetting the sacrifices these friends made for each other ?

Memorable Quotes from IT.

  • 'I mean ... can't you guys just let a story be a story ?'

Links to Dark Tower series.
  • References are made to the Turtle, one of the 12 guardians of the Beams in the Dark Tower.
  • The use of a riddling contest to defeat one's enemy is similar to the contest in which Roland's ka-tet defeated Blaine in The Waste Lands and Wizard and Glass.
  • The same ditty 'Bean beans the musical fruit ...' appears here and in The Gunslinger.
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