Having recently celebrated his 72nd birthday, King released his 61st novel last month. Along with ten short story collections and five non-fiction books, he has written more books than years he’s been on this world.
Stephen King is the living author with the most film adaptations to his name. You may know the obvious ones such as the recent horror blockbusters, IT, (chapters one and two) The Shining and Carrie, but did you know he wrote the Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and Secret Window starring Johnny Depp?
His most recent book, The Institute, which has ties with The Shining, Firestarter and Dr Sleep, features a boy as the main character. He has telekinetic and telepathic (TK and TP in the book) powers, similar to those of Danny from the Shining. Stephen King is known for his horror and ability to shock, but over the years his ability to write about children makes him stand out.
He created the ‘Losers Club’ in IT, and in this novel, he has created a group of children just as believable and as likeable. They have been taken from their families and are kept in a secret facility by a sinister organisation. The place is called the Institute. While there they are studied and tested.
Luke Ellis is our hero, taken from his home and loaded into a black SUV. He is a genius and after the murder of his parents, he won’t go down without a fight. King paints a vivid picture of what life is like in the Institute with a Nurse Ratched-style woman in charge, who is terrified herself by her superiors and is joined by a bunch of sadistic Drs and Nurses who take too much pleasure from their work.
Besides the TK and TP, there are no monsters, except for the monstrosities that humans do to each other. Putting up walls to keep special people away from the world is synonymous with Stephen King’s wider political views, especially his negative attitude to Donald Trump. In some parts, the whole story stands for the small-town vs corporations and the government.
The Institute itself is a perfect substitution for a government that does dark, secret things to keep the balance of power forever in their hands. As with a lot of Stephen King books, the dialogue is snappy and, while the action doesn’t come fast and furious, when it does it isn’t for show – it adds to the story.
If you haven’t read any of King’s most recent work, the Institute sees him getting back to solid storytelling, leaving behind his foray into crime and thrillers and moving back towards more classic King, where the story is key.
If you are a fan of Stranger Things, IT and contemporary horror, the Institute is a success and is Stephen King back to his very best.
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