[Review] The Institute
The Institute – In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window.
And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check-in, but you don’t check out.”
In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.
As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of It, The Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenching dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.
There is something truly amazing about picking up a new Stephen King novel and seeing the thickness of an almost 600-page book when you hold it in your hands because you instantly know that you are not about to simply read a book, you are about to phase into a world that is so detailed and complete, that’s it’s going to play out all around you for a long, long time. The Institute is exactly that. Stephen King’s new gut-wrenchingly horrific story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.
Be it as it may, I’m aware that there are many people who love Stephen King no matter what he writes. Admittedly, I used to be one of those people until started to get more selective of what I read from him, mainly because I found myself getting bored with most of the books he wrote.
But I have to tell you now, this novel is anything but boring and if you are like me, and looked away from King for a while, you will absolutely want to give this one a read! If this is an example of what we have to look forward to with future books, then my mind will be changed. Mr. King is one of the leading horror writers in the world and this one proves he’s back in the game.
I had a blast reading The Institute, it grabbed me from the very first page and relentlessly held me until I finished, completely captivated. I was very anxious about the ending because sometimes King’s endings have been major disappointments to me. But, this ending felt right. In “The Institute,” we begin our journey in a simple little town in South Carolina where a police officer that was passing through takes a job as a night-patrol security guard who basically just walks around the little town keeping an eye on everything.
This book is the intersecting stories of a gifted 12-year-old boy named Luke and a semi-retired lawman named Tim, Who made a single decision to get off a plane that changed the course of his life.
Luke a very smart and gifted child who is about to attend MIT because he was blessed with an intellect well beyond his years. Luke is also a child overflowing with an insatiable curiosity. He also has another gift, Luke can move objects with his mind as a result, usually inadvertently and during times of serious emotional upheaval. It’s this telekinetic gift that makes him a target for The Institute, however. In the middle of the night, intruders break into Luke’s home, brutally murdering both of his parents and abducting him.
Luke eventually wakes up at The Institute in Maine in a room that’s very similar to his own. Outside his bedroom door, he discovers the building is a prison-like structure where other children with telekinetic and telepathic gifts like his, have been abducted and held prisoner. There’s many other young kids around there and he’s walking around he spots a young girl in the hallway smoking a cigarette. They begin a conversation and she tells him that they “do really bad stuff to the kids here, but at least we’re in the Front Half. You don’t want to go to the Back Half. No, that’s like the roach motel. Kids go in and never come back out.”
The Institute is where the kids are put through so many tests and have drastically different reactions, not to mention horrific. Every day they are given some sort of injection then experimented on, they are even tortured in order to enhance their unnatural talents. If they are lucky and live long enough, they are moved to the Back Half, which a dark and secret part of the facility that’s known only through rumor, but one thing is fact, the kids that are moved there are never seen or heard from again.
In the most sinister of institutions, their director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts, no matter the cost. There are no scruples within any of them, they are brutal and cruel people. If they go along, they get tokens for the vending machines. If they don’t, brutal punishment will follow. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke and his friends become more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.
Luke, and the friends he makes after being kidnapped and taken to The Institute, are the heart of this story. This book is King at his best. It’s tense and I found myself ill at ease throughout the 500 plus pages. But it’s good. A good story, good writing, King stays outside the story and lets his characters get through to us so we can see the world through their eyes. He has the most amazing ability to draw you into his world and not let you go until he wants to.
You cannot help but fall in love with each and every one of these kids, you will get to know them in every tiny detail, their fears, their friendships with each other and how they come together to solve an incredible situation they alone could never solve. The Institute has great adult characters too, including a few ‘bad guys’ that you hate but also kind of feel for as well.
In closing I’ll say that this is one hell of a horror book in every way, no ghosts, hauntings or supernatural, you get full-on nastiness that is all the more gut-churning for how awful humanity can be. This book not only scared me, but it also made my heart break into pieces, and it made me cry. It’s creepy, but not because it’s supernatural or filled with any sort of demonic evil, but because it describes a world that is entirely plausible and very possible. That, to me, is the most disturbing of all. I highly recommend this book. And I’m proud to say I am once again a major fan of The King of horror.
About the Book Author
Stephen King is the author of more than sixty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes The Outsider, Sleeping Beauties (co-written with his son Owen King), the Bill Hodges trilogy End of Watch, Finders Keepers, and Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel and an AT&T Audience Network original television series). His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller. His epic works The Dark Tower and It is the basis for major motion pictures, It now the highest-grossing horror film of all time. Stephen King lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.
Title: The Institute
Author: Stephen King
Published Date: September 10, 2019
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle
Pages: 577 pages
Reviewed by: Sarah Hopkins
Our Rating: 4.2 /5
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