The Institute: A Novel ハードカバー – 2019/9/10
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From #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephen King, the most riveting and unforgettable story of kids confronting evil since It—publishing just as the second part of It, the movie, lands in theaters.
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.
“A big shank of a book that reminded me instantly of many of the reasons I loved (love?) [King]. His characters are the kind of people who hear the trains in the night. The music is always good. He swings low to the ground. He gets closer to the realities and attitudes of working-class life in America than any living writer I can think of.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"Throughout his long career, King has been committed to the bedrock notion that stories matter, that they help us understand both ourselves and the world we inhabit. The Institute, filled as it is with anger, sorrow, empathy and, yes, hope, reiterates that commitment with undiminished power. It is a first-rate entertainment that has something important to say. We all need to listen.”
—William Sheehan, The Washington Post
“As consummately honed and enthralling as the very best of [King’s] work...How do you maintain your dignity and humanity in an environment designed to strip you of both? That theme, such an urgent one in literature from the 20th century onward, falls well within King’s usual purview...Of all the cosmic menaces that King’s heroes have battled, [the] slow creep into inhumanity may be the most terrifying yet, because it is all too real.”
—Laura Miller, The New York Times Book Review
“The Institute is another winner: creepy and touching and horrifyingly believable, all at once.”
—The Boston Globe
“This is King at his best.”
—The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Gripping… This is a thriller — and a good one, at that. There’s little in the way of King’s usual emphasis on the occult beyond the topic of psychic powers, which, according to surveys, as many as 40% of Americans believe are real. But there’s no shortage of monsters, that’s for sure. They just come in the coldblooded, end-justifies-the-means, laws-don’t-apply-to-us human variety. We have no trouble believing that those types of people are real. And they are plenty scary.”
—The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Fans will draw parallels between Luke’s tight band of friends and the kids at the center of It, in which the Losers Club faces off against a murderous clown, but this is an entirely original story that can only come from the mind of a master teller like King.”
—The Florida Times Union
“King wows with the most gut-wrenching tale of kids triumphing over evil since It….Tapping into the minds of the young characters, King creates a sense of menace and intimacy that will have readers spellbound…Not a word is wasted in this meticulously crafted novel, which once again proves why King is the king of horror.”
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
"You don’t need to be a horror fan to read The Institute — or to have The Institute take over your life, since this is generally what happens with King’s novels...His storytelling transcends genre."
—Marion Winnick, Newsday
“Shocking suspense and hallmark thrills…The Institute offers a thrilling reading experience and rousing tribute to the resilience of children and the unending fight against evil.”
—G. Robert Frazier, BookPage
The child, Luke, is taken in the middle of the night. His folks are murdered. He wakes up at The Institute in Maine in a room that's just like his - almost. There's other kids there and he gets the skinny from a young girl in the hallway, seemingly smoking a cigarette. She tells him that they "do stuff" to the kids, injections-flickering lights-dunking, but at least they're in the Front Half. You don't want to go to the Back Half. No, that's like the roach motel. Kids go in and don't ever come out.
To say this is a character study of the people throughout history who have told themselves that the horrible, hideous, atrocious things they do are for a "higher good". This book is King at his best. It's tense and I found myself ill at ease throughout the 500 plus pages. But it's good. A good story, good writing, and yeah, sure, it's relevant in the America of today and about our choices.
And, incidentally, contrary to what I have read elsewhere, one cannot read The Institute without being reminded of some of the less-than-ideal circumstances many children face today near certain boarders. However, this book sweeps broad in its impact and is not limited to any certain circumstance.
(Also, it's nice to see that Stephen King finally got a proper author photo.)
So, why am I such a fan of Stephen King? I became a fan not due to his fiction. That writing took years of exposure before he won me over. His nonfiction writing, though, went straight to my heart. You see, I am a bit old-fashioned when it comes to fiction and writing. I loved some fiction, such as Old Yeller and Shane, but, my interest always was oriented toward the nonfiction tales by the likes of John Goddard (Go North, Young Man), Eric Collier (Three Against the Wilderness) and Bradford Angier (several books on living off the land).
Then, one day, I read “The Stand.” That book was the culmination of everything I felt a novel should be, written in exactly the right language and flow.
In recent years, King has penned a vast number of tales that tickled that nerve hidden deep inside me. While I enjoyed most all of them, not one of them satisfied that itch deep inside. Until, perhaps, “The Institute.
Once again, King is not the ‘artist’ on par with James Michener or John Steinbeck or F. Scott Fitzgerald. When it comes to plain English writing, especially the sort where the writer stays outside the story and lets his characters get through to us so we can see the world through their eyes, though, no master storyteller comes close to Stephen King, in my humble opinion. So, as you peruse the review below, know that I am prejudiced in favor of Stephen King.
In “The Institute,” we begin our journey in a small village of South Carolina. The opening is a masterful way to tug us along as we get to know a key figure and setting. Later, we meet our protagonist in Minneapolis and still later we get to know him (Luke) in Maine. To expound further would lead to spoilers, which I refuse to do…
BLUSH FACTOR: If you’ve never read a Stephen king book, it might surprise you to learn the master of horror does not write for children or for people whose ears are sensitive to foul language. Yet, I found myself enthralled by yet another novel by one of my favorite authors.
POV: Presented in third person point of view.
WRITING & EDITING: In my opinion, no writer alive today gets into the heads of his subjects and tells their story to us better than does Stephen King. I marvel in considering how perfectly he presents these kids in their own words. I mean, King is in his seventies, how in the world can he so perfectly sound as though he is one of those kids?
As enthralled as I am by this latest offering from Stephen King, it should be obvious I am rating it five stars out of five.