Review of 'The Institute'

The Institute by Stephen King

the_institute.jpg Say what you like about Stephen King: Populist, Commercial, Shock-Jock, etc, but you have to admit he writes very well and writes what people want to read. “The Institute” is another very readable and compelling novel by the master.

Tim Jamieson is a disgraced cop from Sarasota after an incident with a child with a plastic gun. Looking to take stock of his life by making his way slowly up the east coast. He ends up in the small town of DuPray, South Carolina where he finds a job as a “Night Knocker” with the local police department walking the streets late a night checking to make sure all is well. A world away in Minneapolis Luke Ellis is an extraordinary gifted young man blessed with amazing intelligence and, perhaps, a bit of TK (telekinesis). Early in a quiet June morning a man and two women break into Luke's home kidnapping him and leaving his parents for dead. He wakes to find himself a prisoner in a secret facility in rural Maine where he meets several other kidnapped children who find themselves the subject of experiments seeking to explore their TK or TP (telepathic) abilities for, they are told, the benefit of society. As the secrets of the facility are revealed Luke with the help of a rather special boy realize they might just be able to turn the tables on their captors…It is this that eventually brings the stories of Luke and Tim together.

Another King thriller this time focusing on a nefarious organization kidnapping children and exploiting their paranormal talents for mysterious ends. In recent years King has published books that focus more on the psychological rather than explicitly violent and horrific (such as Cujo) and it is this that is perhaps even more disturbing. Here we see children being forcefully exploited, seeing the situation from their perspective realizing they are far from helpless. These are children we learn to care about being damaged in physical and psychological ways.

The science in “The Institute” is somewhat speculative but not so far out there that it loses the reader entirely. The action never really lets up with the reader never really know where things are going though the ending, perhaps, is never too much in doubt (though there are a number of questions left hanging at the end…perhaps a pre/post follow-up at some point?). The first half of the book concentrates on Luke's arrival at the “Institute” and how it works while the second half turns into an escape story with a suitably dramatic finale.

An easy to read, fantastic novel from King.

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2020-12-12

Genre: General Fiction

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publication Date: 2019

ISBN: 9781529355390

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