Luke Ellis is a genius with low levels of telekinesis. Focusing mainly on his intellectual prowess, his psychic abilities were ignored by him and his family until the night he was kidnapped in the night from his loving home and his life changed forever. Shortly after being violently taken, Luke wakes up in a room that looks very much like his own, but, as he quickly discovers, is not. Soon, Luke meets a young girl named Kalisha and is escorted into the sickening world of The Institute. Kids from all over the country with telepathic and telekinetic abilities have been taken here and are subjected to torturuous experiments for reasons they do not know. If they are good, they are given tokens to use to purchase not only candy and sodas but also other addictive substances such as alcohol and cigarettes. With help from his newly found friends, Luke slowly discovers the horrific secrets of The Institute.
Readers familiar with Stephen King’s work will not be disappointed by the delightfully plodding, character driven narrative given to us in his newest book. The Institute is full of heart rooted in a political and moral nightmare, as the reader comes to understand. A good blend of mystery and science fiction, alongside Luke, readers will slowly unravel The Institute’s mission. King’s story is a bleak world of child abuse, social pressure, dark politics and childhood loneliness. The sun does shine through at moments, however, providing a little warmth, for friendship and a handful of well-meaning adults play a key role in Luke’s survival. Tim, a character we are introduced to at the beginning of the story and suddenly left as reader’s meet Luke, proves to be a true hero in Luke’s life. The Institute makes for a thrilling tale which allows the reader to question our own world’s politics and society, as any good Science Fiction story should. Once again, King has proven himself a master novelist whose perspective knows no bounds. Readers hoping for a clear good-triumphs-over-evil ending beware, there are no real winners once the mystery of The Institute is revealed.