The Institute

The Institute

A Novel

Book - 2019
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A NEW YORK TIMES 100 NOTABLE BOOKS OF 2019 SELECTION

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephen King, the most riveting and unforgettable story of kids confronting evil since It.

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-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don't always win.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, ©2019.
ISBN: 9781982110567
Characteristics: 561 pages ;,25 cm.

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b
becker
Aug 05, 2020

Stephen King gives us exactly what we expect from one of his books - great story telling that needs an edit.

v
vanravenstein
Aug 05, 2020

I'm a fan of King, but I found the book boring. There was too much focus on characters and not enough on plot.

j
JoshSelf
Jul 05, 2020

The story’s mantra, “great events turn on small hinges,” is an interesting one to build around and Mr. King’s huge cast of children, scientists, deputies, and orderlies, combined with some excellent world building of the titular Institute, and a setting as large as the American East Coast do indeed make the events feel great in scale. But it’s the small hinges that feel lacking in strength if they are able to turn these great events.
Luke Ellis has seemingly not been dealt a bad hand in his short life, he’s brilliant, athletic, and even socially well-adjusted. While his sights are set on attending both MIT and Emerson College at only twelve years old, he is unwittingly in the crosshairs of The Institute, a place where kidnapped children are taken to develop their psychic powers of telekinesis, telepathy, or both.
Some thousands of miles away is Tim Jamieson, a fired policeman, who meanders into a quaint Southern town called DuPray after having been sidetracked from his goal of starting over in New York City. Tim is not a man that cares about many things. He’s in no hurry to get to New York and he doesn’t seem to miss the life he left behind. He’s a cop with a glowing record and a history of commendations that got fired for one little mistake. And well heck, if ya didn’t like ol’ Tim Jamieson enough by nah, he even got that cute, but cold-shouldered, blonde deputy to go on a date with him at the mex-ee-can rest-uh-rant down the way. That’s jus’ the kind a feller he is.
Anyone who has heard a story before will know that Luke and Tim will eventually meet, regardless of how unlikely it seems. So when Mr. King reminds us that “great events turn on small hinges” it feels less like a miraculous event and more like the point in the story where it’s supposed to happen.
And this goes for the characters as well. They are all very neatly cast from their archetypes. The kids are made up of the leader/bad boy, the class clown, the nurturer, the first crush with a style all-her-own, and the wimp with the greatest power of all. The adults are even less distinguished, having been boiled down like so many peanuts at Bev’s. (The only restaurant in little DuPray.) In fact the conflict between the adults can be summed up as the cold-hearted intellectuals, armed with data, experiments, and limitless funding vs. the southern good ol’ boys that only need a little intuition and a six shooter. The predictability is especially evident when Mr. King reveals his “time-bomb” that was no doubt introduced to add tension to the lack of surprise during the climax.
Through all this flatness and predictability Mr. King has crafted, through sheer skill and practiced application, a story that feels like an epic American adventure. (Ed: This is horror? What?) We have the rootless American hero, spit out by the system but with his spirit still in tact. A boy with a future worth fighting for, and by all means he does. A gaggle of children caught up in a machine that makes them grow up too fast. And a cast of side characters that will make you think that maybe, just maybe, there’s a little bit of good left in strangers. Hell, more than the news would let on at least. There are trains, plains, planes, and rivers. Lawmen, shoot outs, spec-ops, and explosions. And if you don’t want to stay for the psychic children then maybe you’ll stick around for the global conspiracy.
The Institute successfully proves its thesis that “great events turn on small hinges” even if it means that there have to be many, many, small hinges at work in order to accomplish it.
A story with an all-too-familiar premise that doesn’t provide enough twists and turns to truly make it special (or stand out from a certain other intellectual property involving telekinetic pre-teens and strange things.) But it’s an adventure of a read with wild set pieces and gripping storytelling by a master of the craft.

l
lissa_adamson
Jun 20, 2020

It's as perfect a Stephen King book as I've ever read. I enjoyed it immensely!

n
NorthStar2O
May 04, 2020

Stephen King. What a gift. What a talent. What else needs to be said? Nothing, really, but then again, conversations about him could be endless. I know these people...in this book. King's character development is amazing. I love a lot of these people but appreciate that I feel like I KNOW even the bad ones. This book was gripping and I am SAD that I finished it. I want it to go on and on.

u
user23876
Mar 23, 2020

My first Stephen King novel and I just couldn't say how deeply disappointed I was. Although, I do understand that his genre favors the obscure and fantastic, the story was flat, unbelievable, and good gravy WHY SO LONG? The lengthy details added absolutely nothing of value. King, heralded as one of the best writers of the 20th century, well... it's just somebody's opinion.
This one is a NO for me.

l
lisser
Mar 09, 2020

This was good until a co-worker spoiled it for me. Not all that original but I'm not going to spoil it for others. I've read all his books and his sons' as well. I would suggest it if someone asked.

r
rene1951
Feb 26, 2020

Nice study of a basic moral philosophy quandary.

Hillsboro_RobP Feb 10, 2020

The Institute is one of King's better modern works, though it doesn't quite cross over into a game-changer. It's a page-turner with a few of King's minor flaws (weird idioms no longer in use, a strange need to identify every character's attractiveness) but many of his major ones (grotesque detail, spoiling his own plot, taking things in an uncomfortable direction) have been left out.
With a twisting plot and enjoyable characters, the length breezes right by. If you need a kids vs. bad guys book written for adults, this is a strong choice.

k
knradach
Feb 07, 2020

Also my first Stephen King novel. Despite the fact that it was 500+ pages, I did not often feel plagued with unnecessary details. Some parts were drawn out, but for the most part I didn't mind. I found myself eager to find out what happened! This institute abducts children and runs unethical experiments on them to harness their mental powers (telepathy and telekinesis).. given this concept, it was dark but not too dark.

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007Gatsby
Aug 12, 2019

Coarse Language: Obviously a bit of profanity, since it's a Stephen King book.

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007Gatsby
May 13, 2019

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Minor Frightening Scenes

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007Gatsby
May 13, 2019

Violence: Minor violence

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007Gatsby
May 13, 2019

Coarse Language: There are swear words since it's a Stephen King book, but that should NEVER stop children from watching or reading something, as long as they are smart enough to know not to repeat those words.

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Heatherf74
Nov 28, 2019

Heatherf74 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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007Gatsby
Aug 12, 2019

007Gatsby thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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007Gatsby
May 13, 2019

007Gatsby thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

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Bypath40
Jul 04, 2020

How long can a book be held out

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