The Institute in this book is referred to an institution where children of higher than normal intelligence levels are brought and kept. Those working from behind the scenes want to gather all such children, in order to understand their intelligence levels and understand what makes them work
One such child is Luke Ellis, who is taken away after is parents are murdered by the intruders. He finds himself waking up at the institute, where there are other children- who have the extraordinary skills of telepathy (TPs) and telekinesis (TKs). The institute is split into two parts: the Front Half and the Back Half.
Newly inducted children are brought into the Front Half, where experiments are carried out on them to enhance their skills. Once the experiments are over, they are sent to the Back Half, after which they are never heard from again.
There is a cleaner in the building, who has a disagreement with her authorities and help Luke escapes the complex and then kills herself so no one can find out where Luke. It takes everyone 24 hours to realize that Luke is missing.
By this time, Luke has made it into town on the train he got on. The hotel manager turns out to be on the payroll of the institute and informs the authorities who send a team to capture Luke.
Running parallel to Luke’s story, we follow the story of Tim Jamieson, a celebrated police officer who has left Florida to move to Maine and takes on the job of a local sheriff. While he takes his time to settle in and gets to know the locals in town, his path eventually meets with Luke. Luke tries to convince Tim about the going ons at the institute, but he is eventually caught and enough evidence is there to convince the sheriff that Luke has escaped unlawfully and needs to go back.
Luke foes go back. But Tim follows. There is a shoot out at the institute. Some children go missing. Some people die. We find out what the Back Half is. We also find out what the institute really is and who is really running it. I won’t spoil all that for you because the last third of the book is where all the action takes place at a fast paced speed.
At 482 pages, The Institute is a long read, but then that’s expected from Stephen King.The book is classified as science fiction-horror but I would refer it to as a thriller and suspense novel. There are no supernatural occurrences with monsters or aliens. It actually feels like a very realistic novel because it is grounded in reality.
The book starts off really well and sucked me right in as the story of Tim Jamieson is revealed of his moving to his new place, encountering new people. Shifting perspectives to Luke, we follow his abduction and eventually coming into the institute. These parts were written well and made me turn the pages fast.
The middle third slows down a little, with the typical long descriptions by King and the introduction of other characters.
However, in the last third things pick up once again and enters the fast and furious zone with a lot happening. I found myself turning the pages real fast and forcing myself to slow down to absorb and experience everything.
By the end, I felt like I was on a roller coaster. There is so much happening and I was left on a very satisfied note.
The Political Angle
Straying far from his trademark horror writing, King has come up with a novel that has a lot of politcal undertones. For those who are well versed with American politics, this book will give obvious references to the entire fiasco regarding the separation between parents and the non-immigrants children. News channels showed images and videos of children as young as six years old being snatched away, taken away to a detention camp, away from their parents. These images were heart breaking to see. Many have suggested this novel is essentially amn indirect attack on Trump’s policies which this makes this novel a very American novel at heart.
I totally loved this book. Highly recommended.