This is a long monster story where for maybe most of the book the monster becomes a device to tie together the lives of a group of kids and to reveal the complex nature and hidden nightmares of a small New England town--stop me if that sounds like something Stephen King would write.
It works well, for the most part. The characters are intriguing as adults and as kids, and King is at the top of his suspense-generating game in keeping the reader wondering what happens next, and he manages to keep you in suspense through four or five parallel stories that all weave into one long, long suspenseful novel.
As with King's best works, you get the idea he's writing about his past, and also that he's writing about bigger issues than the actual story. The monster becomes a metaphor for the end of childhood as well as for the underlying secrets and lies underlying the histories of most communities, and it all gives your brain something to chew on while King wanders around his usual story devices, stretching the suspense over what's behind a closed door for twenty minutes or more instead of just turning the knob.
Some actions and motivations are unbelievable, others make no real sense in terms of the story or character. Suicides seem gratuitous, sex scenes seem to have little purpose, and there are times you wonder if King even bothered to read what he had written before submitting it.
But none of the shortcomings matter. It's a brilliantly told monster tale with a deeper connotation, full of great characters you fall in love with, full of bitter, sad moments and moments of cathartic happiness and tenderness. All the emotions and fears you'd expect from King, in other words, are here, and they are composed into an impressively complete story.
The reader is very good, too. If you are going to spend this long with someone, you better like him, and Weber is likable. You might not enjoy every moment of this book, but you will enjoy the book, nonetheless.
This is probably my all time favorite King novel and I'm happy to finally have it available as an audio book and even happier to find that it has been read with such enthusiasm.
I wish I would have read the physical book instead of the audiobook for three reasons.
(1) Way too much jumping around between 1958 and 1985.
(2) Too many scenes end in the middle of crises or in the middle of sentences instead of at logical ends.
(3) The narrator takes too long to speak stuttering sentences which I could read quickly if doing the physical book.
1. I wish the author had told everything in the order it happened starting in 1957 - 1958 (maybe leaving out the final scene of how they escaped the monster in 1958). Then go to the future 1985 and tell everything there in order. I wouldn’t mind occasional interruptions for a few pre-1957 events. But I was annoyed, having to keep so many open stories floating around in my head. This was work, not fun.
2. Interrupted scenes. It’s 1958, a bully is chasing a girl. As he gets closer, the scene stops. We jump to 1985, a bad guy comes to a hotel room to kill a guest. He knocks on the door. As soon as the door opens, the author switches back to 1958 still chasing the girl, and then that scene is stopped in the middle, again. This wasn’t as bad early in the book because not as many killings and crises were happening - and we were getting to know everyone. Early in the book the result felt like many short stories. But the last fourth of the book was a problem. Some experts think this is good writing technique - unfinished scenes ending in the middle of a threat or disaster. I immensely dislike it. Because Stephen King is so popular, I think experts mistakenly believe that everything he does is great, including jumping around. And those experts encourage other authors to end scenes in the middle. Ugh. Please don’t. I think Stephen is great because of his creative ideas, situations, characters, and actions.
3. Some scenes should have been cut or shortened. Especially during the last fourth of the book. At times I felt “can we get moving here - back to the story?” One example was the scene with Mr. Keen the pharmacist talking to Eddie. It was long and drawn out, too much pondering and thinking of other things by Eddie, plus interruptions. It could have been shortened. Another example was the scene about Claude Herrough killing others with an axe. The book would have been fine without it..
4. This was not a big deal, but slightly annoying. In 1985 the characters had amnesia regarding what they did in 1958. A lot of time is spent inside their heads pondering and trying to remember what happened. I’m ok with amnesia, but at times I was tired of the pondering and wondering. I wanted it sped up a little.
5. What happened to Tom Rogan - the monstrous wife beater? There was this amazing build-up. I thought “It” was going to use him as a tool - then nothing. END SPOILER
SOME READERS MAY BE TROUBLED:
1. There were scenes which were frightening, upsetting, and difficult to read concerning child abuse, abuse causing infant death, cruelty to animals, and spousal violence.
2. There were two sex scenes that troubled some readers. I wasn’t bothered as much. I saw them as more weird things going on. One was underage kids having sex. The other was a man in love with his wife, having sex with another woman. It didn’t fit his character or do anything for the story.
THE GOOD AND OTHER:
This book is soooo good because the author really brings the characters to life. I loved them. They were losers and outcasts. I was sympathetic. I loved their bonding and friendship. And I loved their courage and strength when they had to run, hide, and fight the bullies - and the monster.
This book is long, like reading three or more books.
Most of my reading is romance, crime, and mystery novels. I didn’t think I would like horror, but I was surprised that I did. In a way the monster in “It” had the same effect on me as serial killers in crime fiction. This killer just had a few more twists making him different/creative. He’s a type of demon.
The narrator Steven Weber was good at doing many different voices, but I’d prefer someone else. His general narration voice was too strident for me. I prefer a more soothing voice. Also I did not like the way he narrated the stuttering character. If reading the book, I could read the stuttering sentences quickly. But the narrator spoke them in a true-to-life manner which was slow and frustrating to listen to. He could have done a brief stutter. He took too long to read sentences like sh-sh-sh-sh-should s-s-s-s-someone...
Ending: Good enough to feel good, but not every good guy lives.
I'm a technician that does a lot of driving for his job. I use the "windshield" time to listen to audiobooks.
First let me review the performance. Steven Weber does a masterful job of not reading, but telling this story. I can think of only one other narrator that might be better, and that would be Will Patton reading the Dave Robicheiux novels by James Burke, and that's only because I think Will might do female voices better. In the future I will probably add a few books to my wish list based only on the fact that Steven Weber is the narrator, he was that good in this book.
Now to review the story. It's a 44 hour marathon of a story. If it wasn't for King's innate ability to write so well, I can't imagine anyone making it through to the end. If King had slimmed the book down to 20-24 hours, it would have earned 5 stars from me. By hour 40 I was wondering how much longer he could drag this out? Does he get paid by the word? Thankfully he doesn't go into infinite detail like some authors I've read, and the story continues to move forward (and backward, and forward, and backward, and then forward again). I was fortunate and I bought this book on one of Audible's 4.95 sale, so it worked out to $1/8hours of listening. It's probably still a good deal at $15.
Never has 47 hours seemed so short, King never fails. Secondly, this is one of the best readings I have ever had the pleasure of listening to, Steven Weber does an amazing job. I would recommend this to everyone.
At first I didn't know if I would enjoy an audio book, I didn't know if I could enjoy the narrator or not. But as the sorry went on I was amazed at how the narrator brought the sorry to life with his voices and tone. I always wanted to read this book but could never find the time. I grabbed the free trial and downloaded this book and wow it was worth it. I forgot how much details and character development you have in books, I'll definitely be using this service more. Be great if they did manga also :)
I think this might be the best audio book I've experienced so far.
I love Stephen King and have read this book several times, however Steven Webers' performance really brought "It" to life.
This was a perfect marriage of book and narration.
Wow! 48 hours of entertainment. The book was amazing, a must read for anyone in their 20's. The reader was put to the test with an assortment of voices and succeeded at every one, Props! LISTEN TO THIS!
I'm sure many people would enjoy it more.
The book was twice as long as it needed to be. A lot of the background material was boring and not relevant to the story. I fast forwarded through a few hours of listening towards the end.
The sinking of the town.
Yes, I realize it's Stephen King but this book was incredibly and graphically gory. I absolutely hated the description of the psychopath's use of an abandoned refrigerator. It was terribly disturbing to me.