Bridget’s Book Review

By Bridget Ulmer – Staff Writer

Institute by Stephen King is a book I never pictured myself reading, but I am so glad I did. It is a bit more serious than other books I have read recently, but there was something about it that made me intrigued from the very beginning.

While it is a mystery novel, there is an extra element of intrigue and guessing that makes it so interesting. King is known for his outlandish ideas and out-of-this-world novels, and The Institute is exactly that.  

The story starts with the readers meeting Tim, an ex-cop looking for an easy job after the horrors of working in the city. Although he has multiple chapters written from his point of view, most of the book is told from the main character’s perspective, Luke.

He is a twelve-year-old prodigy with incredible mental powers and lots of potential. Luke is kidnapped because of his mental superpowers and taken to the Institute, a secret facility located deep in the forests of Maine.

In this facility, there are other kids like him with special abilities and talents that are forced to endure the torture of experiments and painful tests. After waking up and unenthusiastically meeting the other kids, Luke soon learns that he is in the part of the Institute known as Front Half.

He also finds out that other kids who are placed in an area known as Back Half somehow never return. With no access to the internet and closed off from the outside world, Luke is forced to cooperate with the Institute’s way of living.

He must endure the tests and abuse given. Soon, it becomes clear to Luke and to the other inmates that the only way they are going to make it out alive is if they hatch a plan to escape. But since no one has ever escaped the Institute, it is difficult to keep high hopes.  

One of my favorite parts of reading this novel was seeing how Tim and Luke’s storylines start to match up and finally connect. Since this book has heavier undertones to it, like difficult to read pages and heart-dropping moments, it took me longer to read it.

Although The Institute is 561 pages, there is not a single paragraph I would take out. It seemed every moment was important to the overall story, and even removing one scene would throw it completely off balance.  

I enjoyed the read because of the craziness of it all. The further into the novel you read, the crazier the story gets.

From the first two chapters, King wastes no time introducing the more unnatural elements of the story. It feels like there was a new threat or moment that left me shocked after every chapter.

He has you wondering how everything could possibly tie together and how the story will really end. The diverse and odd mash-up of characters and how they interacted with each other made the story even more captivating. The raw emotions that we discover through some of the friends Luke makes in the Institute makes you feel all kinds of emotions too- like sympathy and heartbreak, but also humor and absurdity when the situation calls for it.  

In my opinion, the ending was exactly what I was expecting and had the multiple action-packed moments the entire book was leading up to. The more tense and suspenseful scenes were made more clear, the visions and thoughts made more sense, and it overall answered the questions that I had formed throughout the reading.

It left me thinking about all kinds of things, but most importantly, it had me thinking about how perfect it was written and concluded. This is another book that would be even more interesting to read during the Halloween season, and if you are looking for a more twisted and eerie read, The Institute is entirely that.