In a quiet Minnesota neighborhood, intruders kidnap 12-year-old prodigy Luke Ellis and murder his parents. When Luke wakes up, he finds himself in a room identical to his own bedroom, except that he is now a resident of the Institute—a facility that tests telekinetic and telepathic abilities of children.
The Institute, is another winner: creepy and touching and horrifyingly believable ... casual description of the looming unknown is emblematic of what makes King’s writing, and this book, so effective ... In some ways, The Institute reads like a re-working of Firestarter for our times ... It is also a tad long-winded. It’s always lovely to have more of a King novel to read, but this one could have lost some pages ... That’s a minor complaint for a major work, however. The vast bulk of The Institute is essential—plot and characterization working hand-in-hand to create an intimate picture of horror.
King’s most unsettling antagonists are human-size ... consummately honed and enthralling as the very best of his work ... these first 40 pages — low-key and relaxed, an unaffected and genially convincing depiction of a certain uncelebrated walk of life — demonstrate how engaging King’s fiction can be even without an underlying low whine of dread ... ruminates on the people who carry out the administration’s policies on the ground, the sort of working folk he usually champions ... Of all the cosmic menaces that King’s heroes have battled, this slow creep into inhumanity may be the most terrifying yet because it is all too real.
... classic King, with an extra measure of urgency and anger. Beneath its extravagant plot and typically propulsive prose, the book is animated by a central concern that could not be more relevant: the inhumane treatment of children ... Few writers have King’s ability to create credible young people whose nascent qualities prefigure the adults they will (with luck) become. And even fewer have the imaginative resources that King brings to bear on his portrait of life at the Institute, a life filled with large and small cruelties, and with a chilling indifference to the effect those cruelties have on the most vulnerable among us ... Once again, the real world peers out from behind the curtain of King’s fiction ... a first-rate entertainment that has something important to say. We all need to listen.