Book Review: The Institute

Howdy telepaths and telekinetics,

I hope you didn’t think I was going to leave Halloween on a depressing note with my not-so-great review of Hell House III. I wouldn’t do that to you!

I actually just finished reading a book, so what better way is there to end Halloween?

This book review is all about Stephen King’s recent release, The Institute.


Fun fact, I actually got this from my local library, so HUGE kudos to them for having this book so soon when it’s only been out since September.

Even more amazing, I was the first one to get my hands on this copy!

Ain’t she a beaut?

I felt so fortunate that I decided to move this book to the front of my TBR.

So without teasing you too much further, let’s get into this book review!


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.

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 vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.

The Review:



I gave this book three and a half physics-defying stars.

It was a hard rating to give this book, given how many stories of King’s I’ve read that I absolutely loved. But if I’m being honest, this book didn’t quite break the mold enough for me to give it four stars, definitely not five.

Allow me to explain.

So in a nutshell, we’ve got this kid Luke, right? Luke has it pretty good. Loving parents, an extreme intellect that is above and beyond the status quo, and a bright future ahead of him. However, when he is kidnapped one night and awakens in a strange Institute, Luke is desperate for answers.

Where is he really? Who are these other kids? And why won’t the caretakers tell him anything? Can Luke make sense of his predicament and find a way to escape the Institute, or will he disappear in the Back Half like all the others?

So starting out, I immediately had something of a disconnect with this book. The first segment wasn’t in Luke’s POV at all.

No, no. Instead, we are introduced to a man named Tim. A rather boring man named Tim. You see, Tim came across to me as someone with very little personality, and his lack of drive in the first segment made the story a bit stale from the very beginning. It didn’t make sense to me that this guy was kind of wondering aimlessly, especially given his age.

At a certain age of adulthood, you know who you are and what you want. Tim didn’t really seem to care one way or the other where he ended up, and I simply didn’t get why.

Anywho, once we get into Luke’s segment of the story (which is the majority, thank goodness), the story really does pick up. Luke is an interesting yet slightly typical kid with a couple of intriguing quirks.

I enjoyed getting to know his character and felt he was as fleshed out as a twelve-year old pretty much could be.

Once he’s taken, the story stayed interesting for quite a while, but I will admit that about halfway through I was kind of itching for King to get to the point and move on with the plot. There are intriguing bits, but it tends to drag a bit here and there.

Also, there are a ton of characters. I mean, A TON. The kids I could keep track of, but the caretakers, I just gave up on it at the end. Having twenty plus characters to keep track of, it’s just a little much to expect out of your average reader, especially when some of the caretakers tend to bleed together.

That being said, I powered through to the end, and while it was a satisfying end, I didn’t really feel … fulfilled I guess you would say. It was an entertaining story with a decent climax, but it was just missing that extra something for me.

Obviously, I’m not too hurt about my experience, I just have come to expect more from Stephen King, and I really didn’t get it this time around.

Overall, The Institute is a fun read with plenty of thrills, some light chills, and some serious heartache. Just don’t get your hopes up too much with this one.

That’s a Wrap!

Thanks for stopping by, and happy reading!

Have you read this book before? What did you think? Do you have a book recommendation similar to this one? Feel free to share in the comments!

If you’d like to see other reviews of mine, feel free to check out my blog homepage or my GoodReads. You can also follow my GoodReads reviews here. There are some great binge-worthy books on there!

Have a great day!

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  1. I thought The Institute was a wicked good thriller and I would consider it one of Stephen King’s best novels for its horror is not based on some supernatural evil but an insidious slide into inhumanity. But your comments about Tim were accurate.

    • Thanks for commenting! Yeah, I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t quite get behind this one like I usually can for King’s other stuff.

      No worries, though. I still have Pet Sematary and The Long Walk to read of his.

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