Title: The Institute
Author: Stephen King
Page Count: 486
Stephen King is back again, and to be honest, I’m not sure how I’m going to review this one. It was good and I enjoyed it, but I don’t have much to say about it. Could be tricky.
Basically, this book follows the strange goings on at a government-sponsored institute for kids with psychic powers. We follow a kid called Luke who gets taken away from his parents and then watch as he starts to uncover the truth about what’s actually going on.
Of course, the fact that we as the readers don’t quite know exactly what’s going in is kind of the point of this one, and so it’s hard to talk about specific plot points. Instead, what I’ll say is that I find the plot itself to be super gripping, to the point at which it almost felt like old school Stephen King. It gave me some of the same vibes as Firestarter, but then the two of them were always going to be compared.
King writes kids really well and he shows that here, but he also does a great job of slowly trickling information into the plot. For the first hundred or so pages he shows us how little we know about what’s happening, with the protagonist comparing it to being dropped into a complicated TV series in the middle of season three. Then he slowly reveals what we’re missing, but it never feels gratuitous.
That kind of made the whole book feel a bit like scratching an itch, because I constantly burned to know what was going on and how things would resolve while also being perfectly content to just go along with the journey. The pacing was spot on, and the only real complaint I have is that I could have happily read a couple hundred more pages.
With that said, it’s good but not great, at least by King’s standards. I have no hesitation about recommending it whether you’re new to King or an old-school fan, but I don’t think it’s going to be my top read of the year or anything like that. It could well creep into my Q4 favourites though, and that’s not always easy.
What I’m particularly happy about with this read is the fact that it lived up to my expectations, even though I had high expectations to begin with. I’ve been let down by a couple of King’s more recent releases, but this one was back up there with the best of them and so I’m quite happy to call it a return to form. If he’s got more books like this up his sleeve then he’s not done yet, not by a long shot.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more I’m coming to appreciate it. I’d recommend it to anyone.