This is a question without a definitive answer. I was an English major and I have to say, studying in a field where every problem was simply “persuade me” vs “solve me,” lead to a lot of colorful, silly arguments. There’s simply no accounting for taste. What makes me laugh might make you groan, and what scares me in a book might make you roll your eyes. I read Stephen King primarily because I am a horror fan and I think he tells great stories. My favorite book by him is The Stand, but it is not the scariest Stephen King book. For that one I have to go with “It.”
There are a few reasons for this. First is that when I read the book for the first time I was about 14 years old. I was the same age as the kids in the book. I was scared by all of the things that scare kids. The first scene with the clown in the drain is still one of the most potent scares I’ve ever experienced in a novel and it still holds up today now that I’m 33. It’s just a shocking, horrifyingly vivid image, with even worse results in the aftermath.
The other reasons are:
- The array of monsters
- Pennywise is a truly frightening character, even in the Stephen King remake of the film version
- None of the adults will listen! The kids keep disappearing, but they have nobody to tell about what is happening!
- I went into the book knowing that all their efforts as children would fail and they’d have to return to Derry to fight IT one more time. So every horrible thing in the first half of the book is going to go unavenged for a couple of decades.
- It is memorable! I have evidence: I’m writing this post because I’m still thinking about IT every time scary books come up in conversation
If you have not read IT, I think, along with The Stand, that it is the best example of everything that Stephen King excels at. Here is the full review of IT that I wrote back in October when I had Halloween on the brain.
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