Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Review: The Institute by Stephen King

Title: The Institute
Author: Stephen King
Pages: 482
ISBN: 9781529355406
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published: 10 September 2019
Genre: Thriller
Source: Review copy from publisher

Buy it from:
The Book Depository

Luke Ellis, a super-smart twelve-year-old with an exceptional gift, is the latest in a long line of kids abducted and taken to a secret government facility, hidden deep in the forest in Maine.

Here, kids who can read minds or make objects move are subjected to a series of experiments. There seems to be no hope of escape. Until Luke teams up with an even younger boy whose powers of telepathy are off the scale, and they create a plan.

Meanwhile, far away in a small town in South Carolina, former cop Tim Jamieson has taken a job working for the local sheriff. Tim is just walking the beat. The quiet life. He doesn't know he's about to take on the biggest case of his career...

Stephen King is a master of his craft and his latest novel, The Institute, makes that perfectly clear. Take the horrific treatment of immigrant children by the US, give it that unique Stephen King spin and you end up with an enthralling story bound to send chills down your spine.

King has this wonderful ability to conjure a vibrant and distinct sense of place and character. Within just a single paragraph he manages to convey everything you need to know, bringing characters to life and setting the stage for the story that follows.
“Nicky Wilholm was tall and blue-eyed, with a head of unkempt hair that was blacker than black and cried out for a double dose of shampoo. He was wearing a wrinkled button-up shirt over a pair of wrinkled shorts, his white athletic socks were at half-mast, and his sneakers were dirty.” (p 75).
The main protagonist is Luke Ellis a gifted (in more ways than one) 12-year-old boy who finds himself torn away from his family. Held captive inside the mysterious Institute he must discover what their intentions are and somehow find a way to free himself and the other children held there.
“Luke Ellis was the guy who went out of his way to be social so people wouldn't think he was a weirdo as well as a brainiac. He checked all the correct interaction boxes and then went back to his books. Because there was an abyss, and books contained magical incantations to raise what was hidden there: all the great mysteries.” (p 172)
What Luke experiences is truly harrowing, but it is the compassion and determination from the other children he meets inside the Institute that pulls at your heartstrings. Together they fight to regain hope and freedom. It’s even more poignant when considering the inspiration behind it all.
“No regret. Zero empathy. Nothing. Luke realised he wasn’t a child to her at all. She had made some crucial separation in her mind.” (p 143)
The pacing of The Institute is flawless, the story pulls you along and the ending is heart-wrenching in so many ways. Stephen King definitely has yet another winner on his hands! Constant readers will fall in love with his work all over again and for those new to his work this would be a great starting point.

The Verdict:
Stephen King has yet another winner on his hands. The Institute is a fast-paced read which takes real-world events, gives it that unique Stephen King spin and converts it into a captivating and heartbreaking story of stolen childhood. While it might not offer any surprises it's still a great read exploring the cost of what is done in the name of the greater good. If you are new to Stephen King and a fan of Stranger Things this would be a great starting point. Highly recommended!

The Rating: 8 (Great!)

Thanks to Charlene from Jonathan Ball Publishers for the review copy.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

New Arrivals: Halloween Edition

While I haven't been buying all that many books recently I simply couldn't resist ordering a Halloween treat for myself.

The new Halloween editions of Stephen King's novels are simply gorgeous. A throwback to pulpy horror covers of the 80's and 90's I love the distressed look of them.  When I found out there was a boxed set (strangely called the Stephen King Classic Collection) I knew I HAD to have it.

My boxed set is still sealed (saving it for Christmas vacation) and my photos won't do them justice in any case, so here are the covers of the books collected in the boxed set.

All the Stephen King goodness...