Reviews for The Institute

by Stephen King

Publishers Weekly
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King wows with the most gut-wrenching tale of kids triumphing over evil since It. In a quiet Minnesota neighborhood, intruders kidnap 12-year-old prodigy Luke Ellis and murder his parents. When Luke wakes up, he finds himself in a room identical to his own bedroom, except that he is now a resident of the Institute—a facility that tests telekinetic and telepathic abilities of children. Luke finds comfort in the company of the children in the Front Half: Kalisha, Nick, George, and Avery. Others have graduated to the Back Half, where “kids check in, but they don’t check out.” The Front Half are promised that they’ll be returned to their parents after testing and a visit to Back Half, but Luke becomes suspicious and desperate to get out and get help for the others. However, no child has ever escaped the Institute. Tapping into the minds of the young characters, King creates a sense of menace and intimacy that will have readers spellbound. The mystery of the Institute’s purpose is drawn out naturally until it becomes far scarier than the physical abuse visited upon the children. Not a word is wasted in this meticulously crafted novel, which once again proves why King is the king of horror. Agent: Chuck Verrill, Darhansoff & Verrill. (Sept.)


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Narrator Santino Fontana brings King's (The Outsider) latest parapsychological thriller to life with dramatic skill that creates mood and tone. Late one night, a Minneapolis home is invaded. The parents are ruthlessly murdered; Luke, their precociously gifted tween son, is then kidnapped by a secretive government agency and taken to the Institute. There he will be the subject of torturous experiments designed to strengthen his mild telekinetic ability in order to weaponize him. The children and teens he befriends there and how they ultimately triumph make for a stay-up-all-night-to-finish read and prove yet again King's ability to create richly textured characters and a story featuring themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence. VERDICT Recommended for confirmed King fans and an excellent entry point to the author.—David Faucheux, Lafayette, LA


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King's (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he's bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of "pray"? Or "depraved"?). Turns out he's a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others ("You ought to go see Doc Roper," he tells a local. "There are pills that will brighten your attitude"). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Mainethis is King, so it's got to be Maineand a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy ("You're in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It's not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.King fans won't be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Over a prolific 40-year writing career most authors only dream about, King has turned almost every one of his novels into a bestseller on the strength of his ability to create sympathetic protagonists facing life-threatening and often otherworldly challenges. Following the tender and mysterious fable, Elevation (2018), King's latest supernatural yarn stays true to his signature focus by featuring a 12-year-old genius named Luke Ellis who's kidnapped and transported to a secret facility known simply as the Institute. As the shock of capture wears off, Luke discovers his fellow inmates are all other adolescents like himself with latent psychic powers powers that are exploited and enhanced by a team of abusive researchers. When Luke befriends a disenchanted housekeeper, he quickly seizes the opportunity to escape and reveal the Institute's undertakings to the outside world. King devotees will, of course, devour this latest suspenseful page-turner, but any reader looking for a smart thriller about an unusual black ops organization will find this compelling and rewarding. With his usual blend of plot twists and vividly drawn characters, King remains at the top of his game. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Abducted psychic teens, a black ops mission, and narrative magnetism ensure the usual King fever. Be prepared.--Carl Hays Copyright 2010 Booklist

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