Social Media Icons

Saturday, September 28, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: The Institute by Stephen King @scribnerbooks @stephenking @jessmapreviews

The Institute 
by Stephen King

Publisher: Scribner
Publish Date: September 10, 2019

561 Pages
Genres: Horror, Fantasy

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.

My Review:

This is the first time I've read a King book so close to release date in I don't even know how long.  And another first, I read reviews and had conversations about different perspectives before I even cracked the book open.  I typically don't do this because I don't want it to influence my feelings about the book as I read in any way.  This is what I love best about books though - the different perspectives and how we process them.

One reader commented on the likes and dislikes of a child that age in this day and time and it didn't make sense and I didn't quite understand that until he made another valid point and then I kinda got it.  Weirdly, I didn't even think about it again until after I was finished reading the book and somehow didn't pick up on what he noticed AT ALL.  A lot of readers say this reminded them of Stranger Things and it did not, in any shape or form, do that for me.

While 561 pages is pretty much a short story for King, I do believe this could've been pared down just a bit and still made the same impact.  Certain parts felt long, while others felt a rushed with things happening extremely fast.  Though, to be fair, I always thought King could get a bit long winded and over detailed.  However, I do find more of an appreciation for it reading at 44, then when I was reading him at 8.

I know a lot of people have a tendency to complain about his endings, and it seems no less different for this one.  However, I disagree and really enjoyed the ending of this one.  It just felt *real* to me in the terms of the story and how things probably WOULD end up over all.

King, as usual, builds this world that sucks you right in.  The  brutality of treating these kids as guinea pigs, the cruelty of the doctors and workers.  The shining moments of humanity.  The view through a genius kid's eyes as he tries to navigate through this brutal situation he was unexpectedly and quite rudely put into. I quite fell in love with Luke, Avery and the rest of the kids... and am ever thankful for Tim (and even Annie).

While I closed the book feeling fully satisfied, I wasn't completely wowed like I have been with some of his other works.  I'm grateful that as one of my favorite authors, he has been churning out books my entire life and I hope he continues to do so for many more years to come.


Jessica's Review:

This book got me out of my slump of nothing but 3 and 3.5 star reads for the month of September. When I saw that THE INSTITUTE was taking place in Minneapolis I got really excited - not many books are set in Minnesota so it's always fun reading about a familiar place. If there's something that King does well it's the coming of age stories and getting us to connect with the kids in the story. From the beginning you get so invested in their struggles and trying to fight along side them.

I know that it's still relatively early to be getting reviews out for this new book, so I don't want to get into too much detail and run the risk of spoilers, so I'll try to keep this short and sweet. This 500+ page door-stopper only took me 3 sittings to read (mainly because I made myself stop at 2am two of those times). King is always able to set the scene for the readers and transport you there instantly. Despite there being a lot of characters, everyone has their own distinct voice and they don't get lost in the shuffle of things. Even some of the more minor characters King was able to connect you to them.

I've seen some other reviewers make comparisons to X-Men and Stranger Things and I couldn't agree more! It's amazing what powerful kids are capable of and I think this would be a really good one for those new to King. This mammoth had me hooked from the first chapter until the final page and I have been reminded why I love King's books.

5 stars

No comments

Leave a Comment