Stephen King’s “The Institute” proves he hasn’t lost his touch


Hunter Taylor, Reporter

When I first got into Stephen King, I knew I wanted to read more books. I wanted to read as many as I could get my hands on. And while I was searching for books, I found out that he was writing a new book, “The Institute.”  A couple months after the book was published and sold in hard back I really wanted to read it. I was waiting for it to come to The Corry Public Library so I could check it out. But one day I went to Walmart with a $20 gift card in my pocket. I was going to get movies, but I saw a cover that looked familiar, and when I turned around, sitting on the shelf, was a hardback book for “The Institute” for $20.89. Luckily, I brought extra change with me that day in case my card didn’t cover something I would buy. So I bought it, and a couple weeks later, I finished reading the story. I thought it was amazing.

I’m not going to lie, when I first read the little summary of what it was about on the internet I was confused when I started reading. The book jacket says:

“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 out side 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 the youngest of them, ten-year-old Avery Dixon. they are all in the Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduate to the Back Half, “like the Roach Motel,” Kalisha says. “Kids check in, but they 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 extra-normal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along they get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to the Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.”

When I started reading the book, it didn’t sound like what you just read. It started with a different character than the one mentioned above, Luke Ellis. But as I got farther along, it started telling the story of Luke, and what I realized was that these two characters were connected somehow. When I started the book, I went in expecting a bad ending because also written on the book jacket is:

“As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of IT, The Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good versus evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.”

So you might see where I thought it might be a sad book. And it was somewhat. But what I believe is that Stephen King was writing like he always does. He writes stories that are mostly fiction, true. But he also writes as if the things that are false are playing out as they would in a real-life situation. For example: “Salem’s Lot” is about vampires. He wanted to write a book that showed what it would be like if the people in that town actually had to confront vampires. So if the Institute was real, he is showing us the story of what he believes would happen if it was. If there was an Institute and a kid brave enough to escape his captors tried to escape, what would happen? King shows us a magnificent story that shows at his age he still has his talent.

I loved this book. If I had to rate it on a scale of 5 I would give it a 4.8 because it was amazing. Of course it isn’t his best book in my ratings, but this story made it easily to my favorites list. This is one of those books that I could read again and again in the future and still enjoy it.  And I’ll tell you right now… the ending is somewhat sad. Caution: you might want to keep a tissue box next to you towards the end if you bind to characters in a book closely. Especially children. And since this is Stephen King, I have to put the warning on for the content. It is rated for a mature audience because of language, content, and violence.