Book Review: The Institute by Stephen King

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Angus & Robertson:


Australian RRP: $32.99

Published by Hachette Australia in September 2019

Genre: Horror Fiction, Thriller/Suspense Fiction.

Page Count: 485

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Sypnosis from Hachette Australia:

Combining the suspense of THE OUTSIDER with the childhood camaraderie in IT, THE INSTITUTE is a powerful new novel from Stephen King which is destined to become the No. 1 blockbuster of Spring 2019.

Deep in the woods of Maine, there is a dark state facility where kids, abducted from across the United States, are incarcerated. In the Institute they are subjected to a series of tests and procedures meant to combine their exceptional gifts – telepathy, telekinesis – for concentrated effect.

Luke Ellis is the latest recruit. He’s just a regular 12-year-old, except he’s not just smart, he’s super-smart. And he has another gift which the Institute wants to use…

Far away in a small town in South Carolina, former cop Tim Jamieson has taken a job working for the local sheriff. He’s basically just walking the beat. But he’s about to take on the biggest case of his career.

Back in the Institute’s downtrodden playground and corridors where posters advertise ‘just another day in paradise’, Luke, his friend Kalisha and the other kids are in no doubt that they are prisoners, not guests. And there is no hope of escape.

But great events can turn on small hinges and Luke is about to team up with a new, even younger recruit, Avery Dixon, whose ability to read minds is off the scale. While the Institute may want to harness their powers for covert ends, the combined intelligence of Luke and Avery is beyond anything that even those who run the experiments – even the infamous Mrs Sigsby – suspect.

Thrilling, suspenseful, heartbreaking, THE INSTITUTE is a stunning novel of childhood betrayed and hope regained.

My Review:

I recieved a copy of The Institute in exchange for an honest review from Hachette Australia, all thoughts are my own.

The Institute had a really intriguing opening premise, with former Police Officer Tim Jamieson picking up work for the local Sheriff in a small town in South Carolina, just wanting to quietly go about his newfound work and trying best he can to keep himself busy. I was definitely intrigued to see where Tim’s storyline would go as the book proceeded!

As it happens, Stephen King then introduces his secondary main character, young Luke. I was definitely intrigued by his character and loved how he was a young pre-teen prodigy, of sorts! So smart, with a clear cut memory for anything and everything and the ability to retain knowledge of everything under the sun! And he had such an enthusiasm and zest for it, as well, I couldn’t help but get caught up in his excitement at the idea of him being so young yet being able to learn at not one, but two of America’s high Tech learning Institutions.

Suddenly, and I say suddenly because there was no way I could even envision what was about to hit Luke’s life! The poor kid, who was adored and equally adored his Parents in return, is literally kidnapped from his home whilst sleeping!! He’s bundled into a van and taken to a high tech Government facility in rural Maine, where he’s no idea what’s coming!

It was so horrifying to learn about what Luke and the other kids at The Institute face! Essentially, they are all there because they possess incredibly rare talents, powers, of sorts, and The Institute staff practically run brutal, traumatizing experiments on them!! It was so horrible to read about, the detail that was enclosed in how these poor kids were prodded and poked and examined and had all the horrifying things done to them! I just felt so bad as I was reading what Luke and everyone else was subjected to! Luke is just such a likeable kid too, I just wanted him and his friends to get out of there!

As anticipated, the staff at The Institute were awful! Well, not all of them. There was definitely one who it felt like really had the interests and safety of the kids at heart, especially Luke’s, seemingly giving him warnings about what’s going on and everything. Other staff definitely did not have any heart at all, it was clear that they were awful and enjoyed their jobs of conducting these monstrous experiments on these kids, it was just even more unnerving! The dialogue between staff and studies was just full of threats, with the malicious staff there threatening the kids to keep quiet and not speak out of turn, for they’d be harmed even more!

I wondered, as I was feeling a constant stream of nerves throughout Luke being at The Institute, where Tim’s character would make a reappearance. I mean, I felt like their paths would have to intersect, but I didn’t know when or even how!

As much as I felt the urge to keep reading and see how their paths would align, I felt as the story progressed, that the detail of the everyday antics of those awful Institute staff and Luke and the other kids just getting brutally tested on became slightly repetitive and almost unnecessary to the story itself. To me, I felt like we didn’t need to constantly be informed that Luke and the kids were heavily experimented upon and even when Luke makes a break for it and is able to seemingly escape The Institute, I felt like the minute detail of every little thing became slightly deterring to the plot.

I absolutely love a lengthy tome, don’t get me wrong! At 485 pages, this initially packed a punch and was unnerving to read as I mentioned, but it was really at the halfway point to me where the story felt like it wasn’t moving along nearly as quick as the first fraction of the book. I’ve read a fair few Stephen King books in my time thus far: Carrie, Cujo, Misery, The Shining and a fair few of his short stories, I just thought this would be more jumpy horror than details about children being experimented upon. Although, I do admit this is a whole different sort of discomfort and horror aspect, as it made me wonder what secret Agencies get up to. I’ve heard scary things that the FBI have done to people they experiment on, and this novel just added a whole new aspect to that!!

Happy Reading,


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