The Institute by Stephen King (Spookathon) ★★★★☆

Introduction – 10/13/19

I really hope this is good. I just got off my Kingathon. I hope I am not Kinged-out. At the same time, I think I am primed to judge this story objectively and not through the rose colored glasses of a King fan. Worst case scenario, this is an easy and mildly entertaining book because King is so easy to enjoy.

Update – 10/18/19

It’s nearly midnight, and I’ve made it through 3/4ths of the book. It’s really good. The story starts off much like many of King’s recent crime novel as we follow the happenings of an ex-cop. We spend a good chunk of the start following him before we abruptly pivot. I’d say the transition into the main plot is probably the worst part of the book. It comes out of no where, and it really doesn’t flow very well. That said, we don’t have much time to focus on that because we move quickly into the life of a young boy named Luke. He is exceptionally intelligent, and his life is forever changed one day when he wakes up to find himself in a place called the Institute.

I’ll admit, I was a little worried with how the story started because, as much as I enjoy the Bill Hodges series, I really don’t care much for a detective story. I also want something different. Thankfully, this is different. This isn’t exactly a detective story. It is much more about a young boy and certain struggle he and others like him have to overcome.

We seem to be covering a lot of ground in this book. King often does that where his stories can be broken into sections. What I like about this book is that it can do that and still feel refined. I’m not usually one to complain about his length. In fact, this story is still over 500 pages (see Trick or Treat-athon), but I’m still impressed by how fast pace and compelling the story is. It should come to no surprise that I like King’s writing style. Nevertheless, it’s nice to love the story too. I’ll be surprised if this ends with less than 4 stars. There is only one thing I feel the story is lacking, but I’ll save that discussion for the end where I can give a minor spoiler warning.

Finished 10/19/19

It was a great book. It isn’t King’s best, but I stand by it being better than his most recent crime novels (including the Outsider). I thought the ending was satisfying. I was ready to come in her and dock King for an easy ending if that was what happened; it didn’t. There are larger consequences to the actions of the book and our main character. King address issues in politic and society making a point to provide commentary on the President himself. This isn’t new. I am happy with this read. It seems like a good novel that is pretty consistent throughout.

There are similarities to the Shop in Firestarter. It involves the abduction of children with special gifts. The institution is secret, etc.. The story itself is different; the Big Bad, is not so different. The question then becomes if it hurts the story. The next paragraph will have very mild spoilers as it relates to the Shop. Skip it if you don’t want to hear it.

In The Outsider, I criticized it for its similarity to IT, so I want to be fair and do the same here. These are only spoilers for what is not in the book. I was a little annoyed that we never got even a mention of the Shop, from Fire Starter. King is all about inter-connectivity and even when things don’t connect, he isn’t afraid to reference his own work (the Shining in The Outsider). Still, we never get a mention of the Shop. It could easily have been included if only in passing. Our character might think of how it compares to the Institute, or an Institute employee could mention it in passing. The lack of that connection makes me think he doesn’t want that connection to be there. The fact is, it’s there. Your ideas are meshing. If they’re worthy of being an independent work then why steer clear of acknowledging the elephant in the room? Why not make it an updated version of it (I’m pretty sure its not).

In the end, I still enjoyed this novel. I liked it more than Firestarter even. This story felt darker and the ending less convenient. 4.25/5 stars.

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4 Replies to “The Institute by Stephen King (Spookathon) ★★★★☆”

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