Rating: 4 / 5
I have been part of the team hosting a buddy read for THE INSTITUTE by Stephen King over the last several weeks and it has been a ton of fun. For anyone who joined us, thank you so much for making this such a great experience!
THE INSTITUTE begins with Tim, a man who is drifting in life a bit, slowly making his way to his destination but is open to new things. He takes an opportunity to hop off a overbooked flight and find his own way hitching rides in exchange for favors. He winds up in a small town and sees a perfect job listing just by chance and decides to apply.
The story then takes a big jump back in time with a shift in attention to Luke Ellis. Luke is a special kid with a huge IQ and a bit of something special that makes him even more different from other kids his age. In the middle of the night he is kidnapped and his parents murdered. When he awakens, he finds himself in a room that looks just like his own but isn’t. He’s now in The Institute. Why exactly he’s here and what exactly is his fate is what the rest of the book will slowly reveal.
I really enjoyed THE INSTITUTE and this was a great one for a buddy read. There were a lot of theories bounced around as we made our way through the book, some proving more right than others. I really liked Luke as our lead character through most of the novel. This is a kid who is very special, but he’s still just a kid in a horrible situation. Luke’s parents raised him well, finding resources to engage his superior intelligence while still treating him like a normal kid. The Institute is filled with other special kids, not all of them are as well balanced as Luke appears to be.
Opposing Luke and his friends are the adults at the Institute, perfect bad buys to love to hate. They are a mix of people who have found their way to this place out of necessity and desperation and those who relish their work as a way to feed their ongoing ambition. It soon becomes clear that this is not a place anyone would want to be!
This book has some weight to it, it comes in a little shy of 600 pages, but I found it to be a quick, engaging read. It was hard to put a pause on the reading before each of our chats and I was always eager to dive right in. That said, one thing I really like about so many of Stephen King’s novels is that they translate really well to audio and hold up well to start and stopping. I read this book switching back and forth between print and audio which worked really well for me again!
If you haven’t had a chance to pick this one up, I highly recommend THE INSTITUTE!