|I’ve read about a dozen books by Stephen King, and this was one of the better ones I’ve read so far, I’d put it about equal with The Shining.
I was taken a back by many things though, first and foremost by how dark it was. I’m not really sure I was ever really scared by this book so much as I was disturbed by it. There are a ton of very uncomfortable, and darker scenes that didn’t even have anything to do with the clown, marital rape, gang rape, domestic abuse, children beating the shit out of each other, animal cruelty and more.
There’s a scene where a young girl is running away from her abusive father running through the streets trying to get away from him. He’s in an absolute rage, if he catches her it’s likely he would beat her to death, and this isn’t the only scene where this young girl is abused. As she was running away through the town there are townspeople slapping each others backs laughing at her – who fucking does that?
This girl grows up to have a very abusive husband, and there are scenes of domestic abuse and marital rape which made me put the book down for the night.
A gay man is brutally beaten in the beginning of the book, and kids torment and bully each other in ways thankfully I’ve never seen or experienced in real life – to the point they are breaking each others arms.
There’s a scene where a dog is abused and killed, and that’s another time where I just had to stop reading for a little bit because the mood and tone of the book was just so fucked up.
There’s also a ton of hate-speech language in the book. Stephen King is NOT a racist, but the N word shows up often in this book as a sign of the times in the 50’s. It’s disturbing and made me squirm to read through those scenes.
The book is very violent, there are a lot of scenes where there’s graphic depictions of violence and ore.
I know this book is labeled horror, but honestly I consider it more dark paranormal fantasy. Many times King would tell you that this kid or that kid was going to die, so the suspense wasn’t so much IF people were going to die – you were left wondering how and when they were going to die and when that kept you on edge.
One of the main characters dies early on in the book, and since the book constantly goes from present time in the 80’s to the kids growing up in the 50’s, you get to watch this guy who just slit his wrists in the bathtub grow up. It’s creepy and sad.
And then of course there’s the clown, that lures kids to their deaths and rips them apart, most of the kids are found mutilated and bloody. You don’t always know when he’s going to pop up, and he is a huge influence for why this particular town is so horrible to one another. His evil influences the town to be much more violent than your average suburb.
This is one of the longest books I’ve ever read in fiction, and close to it with non fiction, this book was 1400 pages long in the edition that I read. It didn’t take me too long though, I will say when I wasn’t hitting ultra dark points of the book I was getting through it at a decent pace, and I was interested in what happened until the end.
Sometimes King doesn’t really pull off a great ending, but this time it was okay. Not great, but not a flop either.
Overall, if you want to get introduced to Kings style and haven’t read a book by him before, I would start with something a little less intense – The Green Mile is a great book and a place I’d recommend for beginners. If you’ve already read a bunch of King, this would make a great addition to your bookshelf.