I read this book when it was first released and loved it but as I have gotten older, I stopped reading King. I decided to give this audiobook a spin and am very glad that I did. It reminded me again that King is just better than I want to believe for some reason. Excellent story and an even better reading performance. The narrator actually does some pretty good impressions and his reading of Richie was very entertaining. All around a top-shelf audiobook and it just took it's place in my Audible top 10 list.
Many of King's audio books have been plagued by annoying and grating mood music, and at time poor narration. This is not the case for It.
Steven Weber does a fantastic job. So good, I might look for books he narrates even if the author is unknown to me.
The presentation is also clean and free from added music. If you have avoided King's books in the past due to a bad experience with this on a previous one, don't avoid this one.
As for the story itself (odd how the production has often taken the focus on these books, eh?), it is now one of my favorite King books. I found it more chilling than The Shining, and I was always anxious to get back into the car to hear more. Typically, I'll put the audio books on for just my commute, but I'd put It on for 10 minute trips to Home Depot.
Good book, good production. More than worth the monthly credit.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
In 1958, seven eleven-year-old misfits living in Derry, Maine are drawn into a tight circle of friendship. Stuttering Bill, a knightly boy with a speech impediment exacerbated by the death of his younger brother, is the leader of the motley "Losers" consisting of fat boy Ben, puny hypochondriac Eddie, fastidious Jew Stan, obnoxious mimic Richie, abused tomboy Beverly, and the town black kid Mike. Not only must the Losers try to avoid a sadistic bully, they must also deal with "It," a malignant entity who's been haunting Derry for untold years, going on appalling murder sprees reflecting and feeding on human fears every twenty-seven years, enabled by the town's oblivious adults.
In 1985, the Losers, six of whom are now successful professionals, have forgotten everything that happened in 1958, including each other, when they are called back to Derry to tend to some appalling unfinished business. As he alternates between those two time streams, King gradually reveals what happened in the past as the friends recall and recount it and try to remember enough to know what to do in the present.
Stephen King's It (1986), then, is an ambitious horror epic about childhood (when we excel at "almost dying" and at "incorporating the inexplicable" into our lives) and adulthood (when we've lost those abilities). At its best, the novel makes you live with and love the seven protagonists, working its supernatural horror through natural human weaknesses like racism, sexism, homophobia, domestic violence, child abuse, apathy, and greed. At its best, the novel is scary, funny, and moving. King builds to an extended page-turning climax by drawing multiple time and plot strands ever closer together and by ending mini-chapters in mid-sentence. The dual time streams enable him to do neat things like tell us that an unpleasant kid on a tricycle "was Richard Cowan, and he would grow up, marry, and father a son named Frederick Cowan, who would be drowned in a toilet and then be partially eaten by a thing that rose up from the toilet like black smoke." King writes some vivid descriptions with cool similes (e.g., "He heard a series of crunching thuds, the sound of a giant with his shoes full of Ritz crackers marching down a flight of stairs"). There are many great moments, including the sublime bicycle ride through busy downtown Derry, the apocalyptic rock fight (King is scariest when depicting un-supernatural child on child violence), the sending of a haiku about red hair, and the making of a dam and two silver slugs. King is not afraid to take risks, like evil points of view, historical detours, cosmic turtles, and child sex. And he works neat themes into his story like the importance of love, laughter, and imagination, the way ever-eroding memory may mediate between childhood and adulthood, and the fact that for children "grownups are the real monsters."
King loves depicting and relishes afflicting Derry, a fully-realized New England town, a Maine Yoknapatawpha, its conflicted local history reflecting US history and warping the present, with multiple generations of families participating in key events over the years. King winks at Faulkner by naming some black soldiers McCaslin, Snopes, and Sartoris. Into his archetypal Faulknerian town he introduces a malevolent Lovecraftian entity, using It to amplify the darkest parts of human nature and to scorch the flimsy fabric of reality ("a highly untrustworthy concept"). King calls things "eldritch," alludes to Lovecraft, and invokes his story "Pickman's Model." Throughout this Faulknerian-Lovecraftian mix King inserts epigraphs from William Carlos Williams' Paterson (an epic poem about America) and allusions to all manner of Americana, from horror movies and rock 'n' roll to lumber barons and urban "renewal."
But although King's novel is ambitious, it is also flawed. Here are seven ways. First, its 1100 pages could be shortened without harming it if, for example, King spent less time on inessential and unappealing supporting characters like Audra and especially Tom and Kay. Second, many of the childhood movie monster scenes feel absurd rather than scary. Third, King weakens his Lovecraftian cosmic horror with some unconvincing religiosity (e.g., "there are so many happy endings [in life] that the man who believes there is no God needs his rationality called into serious question"). Fourth, despite King's sympathy with female victims of male violence, some traditional sexism colors his vision, as in smothering mothers, Beverly's actions as a child and as an adult in the sewers, and Kay's repugnant and redundant beating. Fifth, King writes some bad dialogue, as when a flight attendant says, "I ought to get about my appointed rounds," a car rental clerk asks, "Might I please have your autograph?" and a god-like entity says, "Son, you did real good." Sixth, King overuses "funny" phrases, as in "Stephen Spielberg, eat your heart out" (two times), "Friends and neighbors" (five), and "Beep beep, Richie" (myriad). Seventh, a promising body in a hotel room is strangely forgotten.
The audiobook reader, Steven Weber, does a wonderful It, especially when laughing, threatening, or saying, “We all float down here. You’ll float, too.” He does a prime stutter. He doesn’t strain too high for kids or women, and is fine with accents (vital for Richie, "the man of 1000 voices"). But although he has an appealing base narration, and enhances the excitement in the text, sometimes he amplifies terror, outrage, and so on TOO MUCH. King writes, "She screamed in delight," Weber screams, "She SCREAMED in delight," and it's too emotionally noisy.
I did mostly enjoy the novel! Though I think King's more recent Doctor Sleep is a tighter, better-made, and scarier book, I recommend It to fans of contemporary epic sf horror.
Addicted to audiobooks & podcasts. 5 Stars=I Loved It, 4 Stars=Enjoyed it Thoroughly, 3=Kinda Good, 2=Bad/Boring, 1=Complete Waste of Credit
I read this book when it first came out so many years ago and loved it, but it wasn't my absolute fave King title. I saw the TV series/movie years later and thought.......well, they didn't do it justice and they changed too many things - disappointing. With my knowledge of the story and the memory of enjoying it but not "to die for" loving it, I downloaded the audio version simply to add it to my collection - then it got back-burnered for awhile. What a dope! I had no idea I was sitting on such an amazing work of art - the narration of Steven Weber has officially blown me away!! This is truly one of the best audio books I have in my library - it is incredibly long but I didn't want it to end! I have always admired King's talent but I can say without reservation that if King tried to narrate it himself, he couldn't hold a candle to Mr. Weber's performance on his best day. Wow. Wow. Wow!
I read this book for the first time when I was thirteen. I wondered whether I would enjoy it as much now that I'm an adult and listened to this audiobook to see. The performance actually adds to the story, which I think is usually not the case with audiobooks. Perfect.
Weber brings this story to life with a vivid performance. He ranges from delivering creepy and scary to sweet and poignant and nails each character. The book itself could have used an editor. It's got a compelling story but too many superfluous tangents. The Stand was long too, but I didn't feel like King was wasting my time. There were times in It where I felt he was. But he always does a great job with characters and drawing you into the story, and this is no exception. Listen for Weber's narration. It's great.
I've read and re-read this book, I had never listened to it, so I tried it as an experiment. WOW, it came alive a whole different way for me! I expected (a little) to be disappointed, but the narrator was super, and even though I knew the ending, I was hooked right through. Glad I used a credit for it!
I can't believe I am as old as I am and have never read anything by Stephen King. Well I would have to say the wait was worth it. This book was fantastic. The narration could not be better. I have listened to and read many "thrillers" and not one had me actually scared. The way the story was told kept me wanting more. This may have been my first but it certainly won't be my last. Can't wait for the next one.
I read this when I was younger and unable to appreciate the fact that "some things you are able to do when you're 12, you can never do again." Pedophile themes run rampant as do the dirty secrets of a small suburban town, and of course there are horrific elements, as in much of King's work. But, at it's core, it is a tale of childhood friends uniting and then reuniting over tragic circumstances. The characters are rich and multi-faceted. The plot is compelling and intricate. Unlike many of King's books, particularly those of late (I'm looking at you, Under the Dome), which are in need of a more harsh editor, no page of this book is dull or without punch. IT is well worth taking the time to read, and it is even more chilling to listen to than to read in print.
I know it's been 25 years since this book was published, and being an unapologetic Stephen King fan, I'm ashamed to admit I've never successfully tackled the book until now. I wish I hadn't waited so long. This is truly one of his most "complete" books. For such a thick tome, it unspools with frightening rapidity. I found myself listening not only in my car, but between the ramp where I park and the door of my office. The characters are unforgettable and fully-fleshed. I have only two (very) minor observations:
The 11 and 12 year old children depicted in the novel seem too well-spoken and unusually mature for children of that age. Perhaps I was stunted and thick as a child, but I never spoke like the kids in this book do.
The narrator very precisely and completely reproduces all the nuances of "Stuttering Bill's" dialogue. After a few hours, I found this slightly irritating. It's the sort of thing you'd blast through when actually reading the novel, but you're forced to listen to every syllable in the audibook.
But these are VERY minor quibbles and should not detract anyone from this immensely enjoyable and satisfying book.
The crowning achievement of this audiobook is the narration. Steven Weber is simply phenomonal. I don't think I can point to another reader who does such an admirable job of conveying humor, gravitas, urgency, and outright fear as well as Mr. Weber. I've enjoyed his career as an actor and his narration of this lengthy tome only serves to grow my admiration for him.
If you're a King fan and an audiobook fan, this title is a "Must-Have."