This is the second book I read by Stephen King. The first book was The Outsider, which I also read at the beginning of this year. Neither of them have disappointed, quite the opposite, I can’t wait to read more of his work! Specially his most famous ones, like The Shining, Carrie, Salem’s Lot — and the list goes on.
Anyway, here’s the book summary of The Institue based on Goodreads:
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.
To be honest, the beginning felt a bit slow and confusing, as it was completely unrelated to the book summary. That’s because, unlike most novels, it began narrating the backstory of a secondary character which connects with everything else much later. However, once it got to the main character’s part, Luke, the pace picked up.
What I loved most about this book is the way it explored teenage friendships and the impact that it had on the protagonists while trying to stay motivated to find some sort of escape. I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but this story proves the importance of bonds and the effects it has during difficult circumstances. In that aspect, it felt more on the YA realm, but with horrendous scenes.
Here the only paranormal elements are the special talents the kids have: telekinesis and telepathy. And while the story is built upon conspiracy theories (which I love reading or watching documentaries about), the way it was depicted and explained felt rather tangible. Just the other day I was watching Latin America’s version of The UnXplained on History Channel and one of the cases reminded me of this book: Jacobo Grinberg, a Mexican doctor who studied telepathy, mysteriously disappeared.
Which made me curious so I began researching on the topic. For those who don’t know, scientists have in fact been doing investigations regarding telepathy and even have concluded a successful experiment, which you can read more about here. So perhaps Stephen King wasn’t completely off when choosing his topic for this novel.
So back to the book: yes, I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a good thriller with characters that are funny and easy to empathize with. My favorite two were Avery Dixon and Annie Ledoux.
*Trigger warning: violence, physical abuse.