This one required some thought because I wanted to pick a good book that was turned into an enjoyable movie. That left out White Oleander (no great loss, since I already used it). Though I adore Stand By Me I haven’t actually read the novella it was adapted from. The Princess Bride is a wonderful film but a ponderous novel. That narrowed it down to Pride and Prejudice (BBC version with Colin Firth, of course) or
It, Stephen King
I have been a Stephen King fan since I was but a wee lass: I pretended I was Charlie from Firestarter as a toddler and made mom stop driving before eight every night of a road trip to catch the Tommyknockers miniseries as it aired, but it was It that kicked off my mission to read every King novel I could lay my hands on. This is one of the better King miniseries, if not the best. There could be no Pennywise more creepily perfect than Tim Curry. The novel is a monstrous tome, and the miniseries captured the feeling of it at every point, rather than re-creating it in painstaking detail. No mean feat: It is very much a psychological scare, playing off the unique terrors of each of its heroes and victims, which is not an easy thing to convey visually.
As for the novel itself, despite the action being driven by ageless evil that preys on children (and the young-at-heart), it reads like a love letter to King’s childhood. Summer days spent damming creeks and catching a monster movie matinee, silver bikes and inhalers rendered talismans through sheer belief in their power, the crystalline purity of a first crush. This youthful intensity of spirit and faith provides a bright counterpoint to the monster attacking children in the form of their most baseless fears, the fears that are the most powerful (and perhaps the most enduring).
The climax is one that sticks out to me above all of King’s other novels, for what it represents in terms of good and evil, courage, faith, and where humanity fits in. It’s deep, man. The miniseries managed something pretty good, but that part of the novel is just something that can’t translate to a visual medium.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who has dismissed King for any reason: too commercial, gore porn, “genre” writer. If you can’t see past the blood and guts, you are really missing out.