|A book about a group of adolescents boys (and one girl) who must face down a comic supernatural horror that’s plaguing their town, killing kids, and being ignored by the adults around them. Each child experience their own tailor-made horror, which takes on multiple forms, inhabits and uses vulnerable people, holy water is used as if battery acid to melt a face, and there’s a group of very dangerous bullies also hunting them.
But! It takes place in Illinois.
I mean Stephen King blurbed this, and so, at least everyone is on board. This is not the only time where a pretty prominent book (It by Stephen King) goes from being a touchstone text within a genre, to becoming a sub-genre all its own. Stephen King is hardly the first person to use childhood in a small town as a setting for a predatory horror, and even Stephen King found his way to childhood as a setting in many of his books. But this book by Dan Simmons takes it to a whole other level and creates almost what can only be described as a remix of It. There’s just too many similarities in small ways to call it anything but homage or almost parody. So while the similarities draw these obvious comparisons, the book itself is both solid in its own ways, but less distinguished than King’s original novel. It’s really a bizarre reading experience because of how the plots overlap repeatedly. The identity issue aside, this book is also a bit of a muddled mess at times. Simmons is a very good writer, and his prose is solid throughout, but so much of the plotting and the different parts step over each other way too much.