The Institute

The Institute

A Novel

Book - 2019
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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.
Publisher: New York :, Scribner,, 2019.
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9781982110567
Branch Call Number: FIC KING
Characteristics: 561 pages ; 25 cm


From the critics

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Nov 03, 2020

This book was very interesting, to say the least. It was not a horror book, I hoped it would have a little horror aspect, but skipping over that, this book was an amazing thriller. It was very fun to read, definitely one of the better books I have read and I am very picky on books, I only read what I really like. King might have made a masterpiece with this one, it had loads of surprises that made me sad or shocked or worry about the main character.

Oct 07, 2020

King brings us another tale of youth confronting injustices, similar in tone to that of IT. However, this tale does not hold any of the traditional "horror" elements of his previous works. The horrors encapsulated in this novel are that of a more tangible nature versus that of the supernatural. Overall, a pleasant enough read for an afternoon or day at the beach. Not as heavy of content as some of his other works, as well.

Sep 30, 2020

Stephen King either loses me early or grips me early. The Institute gripped me right at the start and kept pulling me in stronger and stronger. It actually moved my two former favorite King novels (The Stand and Under the Dome) to 2nd and 3rd place. I was so on edge of my seat that one day I went out for a run and had to turn around and come back to read another chapter, then another and another.

Sep 16, 2020

The Institute by Stephen King is a horror fiction novel that I picked up a few months ago and finishing the novel left me with no regrets. I am usually not a major fan of horror books but the way the book delivers a mix of sci-fi and horror is done so brilliantly, it's as if my distaste for horror never existed. The story revolves around our 12-year-old protagonist whose intelligence is very high, to the point of being offered attendance at a highly prestigious university. This introduction of our protagonist is not apparent until after you read a side-character introduction at the beginning which will come into play later in the story. As the story progresses, we discover more abnormal traits surrounding our protagonist as he meets kids his age who share his strange traits. We are shown the highly engrossing progression of relationship dynamics between the many characters introduced throughout the story. This novel did very well in terms of blending the genres to create a masterpiece. The Institute isn't overly fixated on the horror aspect, but instead, provides the readers with unparalleled humour and a compelling storyline. The Institiute is perfect for someone who is looking to read a horror fiction book, that at the same time, relates to real life in many aspects. Once you pick up this masterpiece, it might be difficult to put down. @Reader1564 of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

I think very few people can say that The Institute is one of King's best works, but I think it's up there with some of his most entertaining works, for one thing. The Institute takes a very familiar plot-it has to be said, the plot of a few thousand YA novels-and adds thorough characterization, long-winded but still fun narrative, and no small amount of fodder for conspiracy theorists everywhere in King's trademark. Children with special powers are exposed to cruel experiments, secret government agencies, and confidence in the belief that if we all face it together, no adversary is too large. EXCITIVE! It's easy to see why a) people run out to devour every new King book by reading this book, and b) the book snobs don't take him seriously. Any other author will have this manuscript submitted to the YA section directly. It isn't an insult. This was a highly entertaining novel, novel snobbery be damned. And I mean sometimes so bad and unjust by "entertaining" that I absolutely had to keep reading to find out what would happen next. Final rating 5/5! @Barcelonafan1 of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

This is an excellent book, a real page-turner. If you like books that go straight to the point and don't have a long introduction I think this book is worth a read. Stephen King is really good at writing very developed characters. This book doesn't disappoint at all. The story has this very interesting take filled with mystery and fantasy. From the beginning of the book, we know that Tim Jamieson and Luke Ellis are going to cross paths. When they finally do, it's very dramatic and entertaining. King is a true master of writing and this novel is very well written. I would give this novel a rating out of 5 stars. Recommend to everyone.
@Nando90 of The Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

Sep 09, 2020

Awesome read. Watch Stranger Things?

Sep 07, 2020

Most children who disappear leave of their own accord. So when twelve-year-old prodigy Luke Ellis goes missing, he is assumed to have murdered his parents and run away. In truth, he has been kidnapped to a research institute where scientists conduct experiments on children with special abilities. ⁣

Having been a fan of IT (the movies), I decided to try my first Stephen King novel! The Institute is his most recent work and the premise is somewhat reminiscent of X-Men, so I was eager to plunge into this universe. ⁣

King was also able to create a hidden sliver of the world in less than 600 pages. We learned about the rationale of those who supported the research as well as about the larger system of which the institute constituted one part. We also witnessed the friendship, the empathy, and the purity that most of these children managed to retain for one another throughout the horrific process, as well as some moments of sparkling humanity amidst the contamination of delusion and arrogance. ⁣

However, book also has its problems. It is long and emotionally exhausting to read, if only because there is so much abusiveness and darkness in way the institute staff have treat these children. I also wish it delved deeper into the identities of the institute’s masterminds, but maybe this lack of information is realistic, even logical, in that although it is sometimes possible to overturn the tip of the tainted iceberg, most of the time we know very little about the involvement of the powerful. ⁣

This aspect of book is actually similar to that in an issue I am currently reading about in @Bethmacy ‘s Dopesick, which retraces the development of the widespread addiction that is now known as the Opioid Epidemic. Although Purdue Pharma had done so much damage to the American society, its controlling family had managed to evade public scrutiny until very recently, and this is only one of the countless examples how such crimes can occur undetected. Thus while I do wish King had been more revealing of the organization behind the Institute, we have to admit that it is unfortunately, and maybe even stingingly, realistic.

For more reviews, visit me on Instagram @ RandomStuffIRead !

Aug 19, 2020

I read this for the "A Stephen King Novel" part of my 2020 reading challenge. I knew I didn't want anything too scary, and this was the perfect book to choose. I really enjoyed the characters and the plot was very easy to follow. I didn't love the ending, but everything still wrapped up nicely and overall it felt complete.

Aug 05, 2020

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

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.

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.

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Add Age Suitability
Nov 03, 2020

MohammedHasnain thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Nov 28, 2019

Heatherf74 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Aug 12, 2019

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

May 13, 2019

007Gatsby thinks this title is suitable for All Ages


Add Notices
Aug 12, 2019

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

May 13, 2019

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Minor Frightening Scenes

May 13, 2019

Violence: Minor violence

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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