I have been a big fan of novels by Stephen King for decades, I think that his stories are always very creative, thrilling and suspenseful reads. I was just about to take The Stand off the shelf to re-read, it is one of my favourite books, when I spotted The Institute, a book I hadn’t read before (it was published in 2019). If you are looking for a book that is packed with suspense and will keep you hooked, then this is a fantastic read.
It starts with Tim Jamieson, a disgraced cop who gives up his seat on a plane. Whilst he hitchhikes across America with New York his final destination, he makes it as far as the small town of DuPray and it is the start of the biggest case of his career.
The Institute travels a down a road of kidnapping, telekinesis, telepathy, horrific experimentations, abuse of power and the power of friendship that results in a terrifying, gripping and totally absorbing tale. The Institute is a story of children with special abilities that are kidnapped and taken to a secret facility.
Luke Ellis has an extraordinary mind. Super smart, at twelve years old he is already attending a school for exceptional children and has been accepted at two colleges. One night, a mysterious black SUV arrives at his home in Minneapolis and a team of intruders enter the house, killing his parents and taking him away. He is not the first and won’t be the last. He wakes up to find himself in a room that looks like his but isn’t, for a start there is no window. He discovers that he is now a resident of the mysterious Institute that takes kids from all over the country, not because of their intelligence but because in some way they all possess some degree of telepathic (TP) or telekinetic (TK) powers.
His new home is until the control of Mrs Sigby with her brutal staff, evil doctors and lots of injections and experimentation. For what purpose, he does not know.
Luke soon makes friends with Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris and Helen. There is no chance of escape until he meets ten-year-old Avery Dixon whose powers are more powerful than anyone can imagine.
Overall, The Institute is a thrilling and gripping read that sinks its hooks in from the very first page. It starts with Tim Jamieson, who is soon forgotten about when Luke and The Institute come into the story. The bulk of the novel is set within the walls of the very sinister and secretive Institute, where, to borrow a phrase from the book, “You check in, but you don’t check out.” But the two parts rejoin later in the book when Luke and Tim join forces.
Young children are being kidnapped and whisked away because of their small special abilities. They are then subjected to horrific experiments, by mostly sadistic staff for a reason that only becomes slowly unravelled during the course of the book (I’m not going to say much as I don’t want to give away the exciting story). Do well, you are rewarded but don’t obey or put up a fight and you are very harshly punished.
Stephen King has created an epic tale set in a secretive world in the depths of his beloved Maine. The story is excellent and the characters, complex and intriguing, really drive this fascinating tale of the supernatural and science fiction, good vs evil. It is a tale of secrets, power of the mind, friendship, resilience and the total abuse of power.
The characters are excellent. The children are all different with their own personalities, differences and abilities and you get to love them all. They are complimented by the horrible Institute staff that believe they are working for good and take too much joy in their work, especially when it comes to dishing out punishment.
The Institute is a compelling read, one that I couldn’t put down and I read in a couple of days (it is just short of 500 pages, hardback version). It has dark conspiracies, supernatural powers, tense and gripping action, all backed up with normal everyday relatable characters with backstories that really draw you in to the story. A story where you get invested in the characters, rooting for the ‘good guys’ and despising the ‘bad guys’. Characters that you won’t forget in a hurry, including two little twin girls that “reminded Luke of twins in some old horror movie”.
If you’re looking for a thrilling read packed with suspense and excitement, then look no further than The Institute by Stephen King. I thought that Fairy Tale was one of his best novels, but I think that The Institute surpasses it. With horror, adventure and even a bit of humour it is a story that creates a world that could frightening be all too real, a disturbing tale of human behaviour.
The Institute is a wonderfully entertaining and thrilling read. Another masterpiece by the master storyteller.
RRP: £20 (Hardback) / £10.99 (Paperback) / £4.99 (Kindle)