A Review of the It by Stephen King

Stefan Leonard '20

As only a young 9th grader, I was hesitant to pick up and begin reading the 1,000-paged novel It by Stephen King, which seemed more like a daunting task rather than a read for pleasure. Even though the book has been published for around 30 years, the story of a clown terrorizing a small town in Maine had somehow always managed to come up at school or on social media. So, after a lot of deliberation, I finally decided to pick up and read one of King’s masterpieces, which opened my eyes to a different perception of the world we live in.

The novel starts off by describing the story of Don and Adrian, a gay couple living in Derry (the place where the book is based on) who were oppressed for their homosexual inclinations. Every day they were discriminated and despised by the residents of Derry simply because of their different lifestyle. One night, while Don and Adrian were walking along the side of the road, a group of unruly men nearly beat them to death. After they were left for dead in a ditch, King describes the menacing and unforgiving act of Pennywise the clown who, while eating the limbs of Adrian, left Don to watch his lover be devoured right in front of his eyes.

With this bold and terrifying introduction to the book, King leaves the reader with a dark and subtle undertone of what is yet to come. On the surface, this chapter of the book seems almost like a slasher novel. A monster attacking unsuspecting victims. However, it is so much more than that. For those who do not know, Pennywise the clown awakens every 27 years and feeds upon the fear of humans; primarily children since they are easy to frighten. Therefore, Pennywise is a metaphor for all the evils in our society. It represents all the horrible aspects that come alongside of life including hate, anger, disgust, and above all else, fear. In the short story of Don and Adrian, Pennywise is not the true enemy. That role lies in the hands of the town who opposed their love.

The story progresses by telling the tale of seven individuals, who encounter Pennywise on several occasions. This group of misfits who call themselves the “Loser’s Club” form a close bond when they undergo the same traumatic experience of fighting Pennywise not once, but twice in their lifetimes. On top of having Pennywise represent the purest form of evil in the world, King leaves a much broader and overarching theme in his book. The main purpose of It is to show readers that fear holds the capacity to both limit and propel human beings in the journey of life. In the epilogue, Bill (one of the main characters) contemplates the notions of desire and disquiet, and how they are merely different sides of the same coin. Each character throughout the book had choices; to either give up and succumb to Pennywise or continue the fight together for the benefit of mankind. While this seems like a far-fetched idea to be applied in today’s society, it is actually very relevant. Each and every person in this school has a choice. They can either submit to the authority of fear, whether that is fear of failure or a life of mediocrity, or they can sit down, open their notes, and study to conquer that test or exam that has been looming in the back of their mind for the past month.

It is a phenomenal book that taught me so many valuable life lessons such as relying on friends and staring fear right in the eye and tell it where to go. This novel will leave you on the edge of your seat the entire way through, and I highly recommend it to all.