Drumroll…………. It makes its second appearance in my Cannonball Read in as many years. (Here is my review from last year.)
But dangit, it’s just absolutely outstanding all over again.
Honestly, I might be at a loss for words now, and I think that’s because Stephen King took all of them. All the words. It is so long.
But it reads so fast! I can’t put it down, and I don’t want to put it down!
It’s just one of those books.
So, the timing of this is obviously because the movie releases this weekend, and I’m one of those weirdos that reads the book before watching the thing. But I didn’t reread The Mist before the TV series this summer, and I probably won’t reread The Passage/The Twelve/City of Mirrors before that series comes out even though ohemgee I loved those books so much (oh crap, maybe I will read them again). But there’s something magical about It and I wanted to recapture the experience of reading the book before heading to the movies tomorrow afternoon.
Because my first read was only about a year and a half ago, I’m here to report that a ton of the book was still fresh for me, so I was able to take in more than before. I was totally struck by the repetition of the key themes, and I have a much better understanding as to why certain ideas are like earworms when you’re thinking about It.
The word “float” and its variations appear over 100 times. “Silver” (proper noun and otherwise) over 100 times, as well. “Haunt,” “haunted,” and “haunting” repeat over and over. “Turtle” is there 57 times.
And speaking of “Turtle,” you had better believe that after my recent quest for The Dark Tower, I had my eyes peeled for tie-ins, and they! are! there! Maybe I’m being overly-sensitive, but the word “beam” leapt out at me each time King used it (22 times only, but enough for me). The flight that Bill takes toward the deadlights in 1958 and with Richie in 1985 made a world more sense to me in the context of what I am able to grasp of the todash darkness. The guidance that the Turtle provides is more meaningful. And the sense Bill has that he will forget but still write about this experience is beautiful when knowing what fictional “Stephen King” goes through while writing The Dark Tower.
Lastly, a quick note about structure. This is a master work, obviously; it is known and cannot be denied. But I am consistently struck when reading King’s tomes by how much control he has over his framework. Being able to jump back and forth in time when the time is right, introducing his secondary characters when he does (I was surprised to be reminded that Henry Bowers enters the story as early as he does) and losing them when the time is right to refocus on the core primary characters (though the death of Tom Rogan is even less satisfying on the second read), et al: he makes it all look easy. But we all know from reading terrible books that it’s a true talent. He may ramble just a little, but he never roams. This is horror at its absolute finest, and this will not be the last time that I read It.