Published by Hodder & Stoughton on September 10, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Suspense, Horror, Supernatural
Source: Purchased Book
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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.
The Institute, much like Sleeping Beauties felt like a trip back in time by Mr King. He’s back to that standard that his fans love. I’ve owned this book for over a year now and only just got the courage to pick it up. I am a mega King fan and hoped and prayed that this would be everything that I wanted and guess what the main man pulled it straight out of left field. The dynamics, the characterisation and the environment had me fist bumping the air…because you know, no-one around me likes reading and pandemic…gah!
One thing you can almost bet your bottom dollar on is that King likes to give you an absolute door stop. The Institute is no different…I know what your thinking, but no, there isn’t a word wasted, it all ties the dangling threads of storyline to a perfect conclusion. That first chapter, it set up the emotional and gut-wrenching plot that would prepare you (well not really) for the depravity and the cruelty of human beings that crave total power. The story was as smooth as a lake on a hot summer’s day. I knew from that first chapter that this one was going to work.
What happens to kids that have extra abilities? Not X-men level by any stretch of the imagination but trace amounts of Telekinesis and Telepathy. These kids do not go unnoticed and at a building, known only as The Institute there are power hungry individuals using these children for their despicable means. Its no holiday, no summer camp…think horror camp. How many times do we see reports of missing children? How many come back and how many are never heard from again? Where exactly are they? This missing child story spins all the rest on their asses and especially after the year 2020, I almost find myself wondering and thinking yes this is a possibility. Very sobering.
The Institute. Like a prison. No way to escape. No communication with the outside world. Guards or watch-people that seem to have been bred for cruelty. Doctors that would be perfectly suited to playing Dr Frankenstein. Experiments that are quite simply archaic. It’s a difficult read and I did feel incredibly angry at different points and all I wanted was for the children to have a helping hand, some way of escape. The place is like fort Knox…there is no way, is there?
Luke and his friends, Avery, Kalisha and Nicky have an awesome dynamic and I believe King is one of the absolute best at writing children, only eclipsed by his ability to write villains. I HATED every single person in The Institute. I wouldn’t have minded seeing them in that blasted immersion tank! Mrs Sigsby has reserved a special level of hell, dedicated to her solely. I loved the little easter eggs to King’s previous works thrown in, the creepy twins in The Shining.
The Institute is King at his inventive best. The narrative will imprint a vicious scar into your brain. Emotional and dark.
ABOUT STEPHEN KING
Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947, the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. He made his first professional short story sale in 1967 to Startling Mystery Stories. In the fall of 1971, he began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels. In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co., accepted the novel Carrie for publication, providing him the means to leave teaching and write full-time. He has since published over 50 books and has become one of the world’s most successful writers. King is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to the American Letters and the 2014 National Medal of Arts.
Stephen lives in Maine and Florida with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. They are regular contributors to a number of charities including many libraries and have been honored locally for their philanthropic activities.
Photo Credit: Shane Leonard