Stephen King sends you an invitation to a party in Derry, Maine. You will recognize it by the envelope with the inscribed IT on the outside. Going to any party can be an exhausting activity. You enter an unknown environment and meet new people. You like some of them. Others, you don’t. But you do a little bit of work and fulfill social obligations. Listening to IT is like that. If you accept the invitation, you will meet a lot of characters, some of them may not inhabit the social milieu to which you are accustomed. But be polite, acknowledge everyone; each character contributes something. King would not invite characters who don’t contribute. It’s just that when you accept the invitation to the read, you must contribute something as well. Pay close attention.
There is horror here that provides shocks like Tobias Wade, Palahniuk and Chuck Wendig, but different. When Patrick Hochstedler opens a refrigerator at a dumpsite and is attacked by (flying maggots?), that is horror. And who is the person that says repeatedly “Hello and Goodbye?” Ask Beverly Marsh whose voice she heard.
The Losers are a group of seven: Mike Hamlin, Ben Hanscom, Richard Tosier, Eddie Kazprak, Beverly Marsh, Bill Dembro, and Stan Yuris. Most of the time the Loser Group has seven people, sometimes it is five. The listener will have to keep this in mind by listening for the announcement of year breaks. Without knowing the “when ” there are passages that will make no sense.
Steven Weber displays great talent as the narrator of this audiobook. Intonation for each character is clear and unique. There was never confusion about a character’s identity. Each of the seven in the Loser Group is clearly presented by itself a testament to Weber’s skill. Then there are the clearly identified relatives of each of these seven characters, such as Eddie’s mom. Add to that the frequently appearing scenes of characters under extreme stress expressing their emotions through “screaming voices” and we have great talent. All of that is without mentioning the skill involved in presenting “Stuttering Bill.”
This novel is lengthy, comprehensive, and incredibly detailed in its nostalgic visits to the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. If you lived those years, welcome to memory lane. If you live or have lived in a small town, welcome home to Derry, Maine. I remember when coke bottles were green and a visit to the local shoe store was something to look forward to so I could examine the bones in my feet. Characters in this novel describe these experiences while listening to some very cool music of the time.
Here are a few memorable lines that stayed with me after listening to this 45-hour presentation:
“I am being digested by my own past.” (Ben Hanscom)
“Once you get into cosmological shit like this, you have to throw away the instruction manual.” (a quote but non-attributed so it won’t be a spoiler)
“You bet your fur.” (Frequently occurring phrase that seems to be, or have been, popular slang in Derry).
“Thrust its fist against the post …” (A phrase that Bill believes is a possible cure for stuttering and a clue to explaining the tapestry of the universe).
I give this an unqualified five-star rating with a highly recommended notation. The only question a listener will have is how to budget the time to listen to this in a short time period of perhaps a few weeks. Taking too long will cause a listener to lose the sense of where the characters are in their development.
With an ending that is realistic (surprising in a book of fantasy horror) satisfying, yet still disturbing; this is a great listening experience.