The Institute by Stephen King – Book Thoughts

Finally, I read a Stephen King!! One popular, mainstream and much loved author, who was on my list to read forever. And I’m glad I read this book.


I usually have a ‘read the book first’ and ‘watch the screen adaptation later’ rule, but there have been some exceptions to this rule and Stephen King’s books have been one such exception. I have watched The Shining, Carrie, IT-Chapter 1, Pet Sematary, and haven’t read any of these books. Thankfully, he released The Institute and I was able to grab a copy on my kindle, and read it before it gets adapted on screen (if it does, that is).

So, in a nutshell, the story is a mix of Stranger Things and X-Files merged together. Take the kids from Stranger Things, only change the fact that only Eleven has powers, and make it that all the kids have powers, and add in a sinister Government experiment, similar to what Eleven was kept in and watch the events unfold. (I apologize if you don’t get my references, but if you haven’t watched Stranger Things yet, do watch it. You won’t regret watching it :D) There are no spoilers till here, since you get to know all this pretty much at the beginning.

But the story isn’t just this, it does pose multiple questions that readers can think about and discuss if this is your book club selection. Questions such as:

  • Is it justified to sacrifice a small percentage of ‘beings’ in the name of the greater good? The theme in this story got me thinking about certain types of scientific experiments, especially with animals, where they don’t have any consent. It also made me think about the building of arms and ammunitions like the nuclear weapons and their harmful after effects
  • No matter what the technology or the source, how can human beings compare themselves to God or pretend that a bunch of them should be allowed to live, or that the decision taken by a bunch of them is the supreme and all correct decision?

The plot of the story is fast, and keeps you hooked on. The language is really simple, so you can fly through a 600 page book with relative ease. I couldn’t figure out if this was categorized as middle grade, because although the protagonists were all 11-16 year old kids, the content seemed to be fairly adult to me.

There were a lot of scenes that were hard for me to read through and made me cringe as well, especially since it involved loss, death and atrocities against children. So by the end, I was hoping and praying that the kids win. The ending was bittersweet though, and I was partially happy. But maybe that was realistic in a way, otherwise it might have been a superhero movie kind of a book. Still, I was heartbroken. I wont say much more, because I don’t want to give out too many spoilers.

My favorite part were the characters – Luke, Avester, Nick, Kalisha, such amazing children, really! What maturity and resilience these kids had! And their friendships, my goodness, to die for! I loved the way the author introduces Tim (the only awesome adult in the book), at the beginning and says, great events turn on small hinges 🙂 That was pretty clever writing, I thought.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading this book and wondering now whether I should read ‘The Shining‘ and ‘Doctor Sleep‘ next, or whether I should just read ‘IT‘ before I watch the IT-Chapter 2 movie. Any recommendations? Or maybe a completely different Stephen King book to pick up next? 🙂

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