The Institute by Stephen King is one of the best books I have read in years. It spans multiple genres, has a diverse character spread with excellent development and a very unique plot. I loved that this wasn’t your typical ‘government lock superhero children away’ narrative, as the experimentation and reasoning behind it actually made a whole lot of sense. King has once again smashed it and managed to dive into the young adult reading community with the majority of the narrative being told by a twelve-year-old boy.
The Institute by Stephen King begins with a travelling ex-policeman stumbling across a small town night knocker position. In another part of the country, twelve-year-old genius Luke Ellis is preparing to head off to college (university) when he is kidnapped and put in the institute. There, he and friends Kalisha, Avery, Nick, George, Iris and more are subjected to torturous experiments designed to unlock the full potential of their telepathic powers. But Luke is incredibly smart and Avery’s powers are incredibly strong. Together, they might just be able to escape this prison sentence.
Why I loved this book
Honestly, it is one of those books that will have you hooked on page one. You think you know where it’s going and each time it throws you a curve ball. I loved how King managed to create such strong, intelligent characters like Luke, Nick and Avery but also make them so childlike and vulnerable. It appears as something that might be out of his comfort zone, but he proved me wrong completely. There were, as there always are in King books, the morally reprehensible characters who do not deserve to live and they are pretty compelling too, as I find their evil, indifferent nature towards torturing children absolutely fascinating.
The plot itself is utterly unique and I found myself unable to tell what would happen. The reveals about what is really going on in the institute are gradual throughout most of the book and I found myself unable to predict a thing. The way that their powers affect the children was very interesting and I would love to see an exploration into them growing up and find out whether they would be gradually affected the way that they were when their powers were pushed.
The only thing I didn’t like too much in this novel was the very ending. I found that the fight scene was dragged out with little action following what had just happened in the policeman’s small town. I would like to see this played out in a movie, though, as I feel like it’s a scene made for the big screen. Also, compared with the rest of the reveals, the final section created a few more questions for me and I left feeling conflicted by the abruptness of that conversation.
Overall, this book is a solid 4.7* with just a bit scraped off because of the ending. Stephen King has written a novel that is, in my opinion, young adult, sci-fi, fantasy, action, thriller, with dystopian themes in there. It lends itself to a variety of audiences and I am so impressed with the intelligence and fun hidden within its pages. Thank you so much, Hodder and Stoughton for my advance finished copy of The Institute by Stephen King in exchange for an honest review.