Book Review – Stephen King’s “IT” (audio book)

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Audio books are a form that, from one perspective, seems defeatist. As a fan of literature and the act of reading, I originally balked at the idea of “being lazy” and experiencing a book in such a passive manner; however, as a supplement to a book that you immensely enjoy, or as a way to experience such books in a completely different way, audio books (when done well) are an excellent way to relive a novel. This format also allows you to do so while multi-tasking, or, when not listening, spend that time reading something else (what can I say, I love reading and will never, ever, advocate anything over it). As it stands, the audio book of Stephen King’s bestseller IT, as performed by Steven Weber, is one of the most entertaining and well-created audio books I’ve ever experienced. This is an excellent pairing of author, story, and performer, and the unabridged experience is a masterful way of telling the story of the Loser’s Club, and their battle with It.

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Pennywise & The Loser's Club

IT is my favorite stand-alone novel by Stephen King (my favorite overall King story may well be that of The Dark Tower, and I’d have to count that as a whole, rather than choose one single novel from that cycle). The story of seven children of Derry, Maine, banded together by friendship, facing off with an extra-dimensional/planetary, malefic, and predatory life-force that shape-shifts into the fears and nightmares of It’s prey. This entity mostly takes the form of “Pennywise the Dancing Clown,” a sinister, silver-eyed clown. The children defeat the monster, but It re-awakens when they are adults… and they re-band to fight It once and for all. To say much more would to give too much away for anyone unfamiliar with the story, or for those who are only familiar with the well-cast, though terribly abridged mini-series. Tim Curry made for an amazing Pennywise, and the rest of the cast, young and old, all turned in solid performances.

In the TV adaptation, you have a full cast to support the story. When you read the novel alone, you create all of the characters yourself. In this audio book, we have Steven Weber.

I know what you’re thinking. Steven Weber?  WINGS Stephen Weber, reading the complete novel IT, by Stephen King. Steven Weber… performing all of the voices, all of the characters, mostly notably Pennywise, as well as serving as our narrator for the complete, 42 hour (that’s 35 CDs) story. Yes. Yes it is. And you know what? He’s amazing.

Steven Weber

Steven Weber

Yes, Steven Weber from “Wings” (and Masters of Horror, and the remake of The Shining) turns in a memorable performance, making every character (at least 9-12 main characters alone) different and well rounded. His Pennywise is charming, malevolent, and frightening. A hellish take on Richard Nixon, Weber’s characterization of the killer clown and all of his (It’s) forms is definitely one to experience. His performance of the children (and their adult versions) is also a treat, with every one of the Losers distinct and sharp. Weber’s Richie Tozier is excellent, his Beverley Marsh extremely acceptable, considering that he’s male trying to create a realistic female character, and his Mike Hanlon (and Hanlon’s father, during the “Fire at the Black Spot” story) is deeply rich and touching. Make no mistake here, this is Weber’s finest moment as an actor, and it’s a damn shame that he’ll probably never really be recognized for a masterful turn.

This is really how to experience IT, folks. The television adaptation was very good, and I honestly have a very hard time believing a film version of the story would really work. There are some problematic moments in King’s story, with some of it overtly sexual and involving children, and some moments that would really take a large budget to pull off. The magic of the audio book is that all of these experiences are fully realized (I’m not calling the child sex portion magical – I repeat, I am making no apologies for this section of the book). What I mean is simply this: every awesome moment of the book is finally brought to some sort of life. “The House on Niebolt Street” is a sequence that shows King at his finest, and the audio experience is amazingly energetic. When the interludes of Mike Hanlon’s history of Derry and the evil presence beneath its streets, all of the side-stories seem much more vital, and all the more enjoyable.

IT, the audio book from Penguin Audio, is an amazing way to experience one of the largest, scariest, and best of Stephen King’s novels. The performance by Steven Weber brings King’s best characters to life, and really displays the beauty and horror of IT.  While I would definitely advise reading the novel first, mostly out of the sheer joy of reading one of King’s best works, the audio book of Stephen King’s IT comes with my highest recommendation.

Rating: 5/5 ★★★★★ 

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About Nathan_E

Nathan Erdel is a screenwriter. He wrote Headless and some other stuff. He likes beer, metal, pizza, and horror. He has three cats and one wife.

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