The Institute by Stephen King

Mix Stephen King’s older novel, Firestarter, with the Netflix craze, Stranger Things, and throw in a dose of Hogwarts Academy under the control of a mad-scientist version of Dolores Umbridge. And then, somewhat inexplicably, add in some nostalgia about the American railroad. That’s the thumbnail sketch of King’s The Institute.

The book kicks off with Tim Jamieson, an ex-cop, making his way north from Florida and settling down (at least for now) in a little South Carolina town. We barely get to know Tim before the viewpoint shifts to Luke Ellis, a brainiac kid in Minnesota with telekinetic ability. Before long, he’s kidnapped and finds himself trapped in the Maine woods, a guest of the mysterious Institute. Here, he meets other kids with special abilities and together they start to unravel the role the Institute seems to play in the course of world events.

It’s a good story, the kids are likable and the villains are hissable. But I found myself wishing the story could’ve spent more time with the quirky characters in South Carolina before the climactic, stakes-are-unbelievably-high showdown.

Definitely worth your attention!

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Wes Platt

Lead storyteller. Game designer and journalist. Recovering Floridian.

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