The Institute is the first Stephen King novel I have ever read, so I can’t compare it to any of his other works. This novel is not a horror story, but instead more of a psychological thriller with paranormal activity. There are political undertones about the means justifying the ends, dehumanizing children, and giving too much power to one group of people.
The book starts with former police officer Tim Jamieson sitting on a plane that needs one passenger to volunteer to get off. After striking a good deal, he deboards and starts hitchhiking. Tim ends up in DuPray, South Carolina where he takes a job as a night knocker.
Meanwhile in in the midwest, twelve (12) year old Luke Ellis is a genius who has already been accepted to two universities. He has loving parents and a best friend who keep him grounded. Luke can also occasionally make objects move. One night Luke is abducted and taken to a mysterious compound in Maine known as The Institute. There he meets other children and learns he is in The Front Half. Depending on a child’s strength at being either telepathic or telekinetic, strange tests are run on each child in hopes of strenghting their powers. After a few weeks of testing, children are then taken to The Back Half, which is much more hellish. The people at the institute aren’t concerned that Luke is a genius. Ignoring that fact turns out to be big trouble. With the help of unlikely abettors, Luke escapes and ends up in DuPray, South Carolina.
The plot is of course: The Good (Luke, the other children, the residents of DuPray, and Tim Jamieson) vs The Evil (the employees of The Institute, the outside spy network for the institute, and the mysterious funders of The Institute). While it was unneccesarily long, especially at the end, I enjoyed listening to the Audible narration. 4 stars.