Monday, August 24, 2020

{Review} THE INSTITUTE by Stephen King


Those that know me personally know that I am a H-U-G-E Stephen King fan. Not because what he writes is scary. What makes me such a fan is how he thinks and how he writes about how he thinks. For example, my all-time favorite book (of King's and in general) is It. People hear that and say, "Ohmygod. How can you read that? Clowns scare me!" Which automatically tells me, they're going based off of the movie and haven't actually read the book. To me, It is about more than just a clown (which isn't really a clown but a shape-shifter based on a child's worst fear). The book It is about a child's imagination and how powerful it can be (good side) and it also deals with a child's fear and how powerful THAT can be (bad side). Then, you bring a group of children together, all with different fears and imaginations, and show how strong their bond can become ... it's a magical, powerful thing. And THOSE elements are what is at the core of the book It. It's not scary at all, it's actually beautiful in it's own way ... and that's why I love King.

But, I'm digressing ...

I was excited when Stephen King came out with some new novels the past year or two. The only one I've gotten so far is The Institute, which is what I should be talking to you about today.

The Institute is a place where children with special powers are gathered. While there, the children are tested to see if their powers can be strengthened or even added to. Those with the strongest powers are taken to a separate area of the Institute and put to work ... or, uh, "work." The Institute is, of course, ran by a secret group of government employees who could care less about the kids.

Luke Ellis is a beyond-brilliant ten-year-old kid and one of the kids picked up and brought to the Institute. He's a different choice as a protagonist which makes this an interesting read. Who would expect a ten-year-old kid to take on a secret government agency? King, that's who.
I don't want to give too much away in case you haven't read this novel yet, but I will tell you that it held my attention. Certain passages made me think of other King works. For example:

 - In the section titled "Maureen and Avery," there's a fight scene in part 12 that makes me think of The Losers fighting Butch Bowers in It.

- Another passage in "Maureen and Avery" part 12 makes me think of the two girls in the hallway of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining ... "Luke looked around. Joe was gone. There were two little blond girls standing where he had been. They were holding hands and wearing identical expressions of dazed terror. Everything about them was identical ..."

- And, then again, in "Maureen and Avery" part 14: "They reminded Luke of twins in some old horror movie." The Shining anyone?

I guess when you've been as prolific a writer as King, you're allowed certain liberties. Regardless of the similarities to earlier works, The Institute is still a testament to King's writing style and way of thinking. While I may not love this novel as much as King's earlier, darker, works, I would still give this 3.5 stars because it's a solid piece of storytelling.

I'll leave you with one final quote from this book and you can interpret it however you need to:

"It came to him, with the force of a revelation, that you had to have been imprisoned to fully understand what freedom was."


  1. I used to be an avid reader of Stephen Kingbut haven’t read anything for a while. I am interested in reading this though. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

    1. My pleasure! Thanks for your comment. I want to read some more of his newer works but haven't gotten around to them yet. All in good time ... =)


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