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The Institute: A Novel by [Stephen King]

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The Institute: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 36,170 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


“A big shank of a book that reminded me instantly of many of the reasons I loved (love?) [King]. His characters are the kind of people who hear the trains in the night. The music is always good. He swings low to the ground. He gets closer to the realities and attitudes of working-class life in America than any living writer I can think of.”
—Dwight Garner,
The New York Times

"Throughout his long career, King has been committed to the bedrock notion that stories matter, that they help us understand both ourselves and the world we inhabit.
The Institute, filled as it is with anger, sorrow, empathy and, yes, hope, reiterates that commitment with undiminished power. It is a first-rate entertainment that has something important to say. We all need to listen.”
—William Sheehan,
The Washington Post

“As consummately honed and enthralling as the very best of [King’s]  work...How do you maintain your dignity and humanity in an environment designed to strip you of both? That theme, such an urgent one in literature from the 20th century onward, falls well within King’s usual purview...Of all the cosmic menaces that King’s heroes have battled, [the] slow creep into inhumanity may be the most terrifying yet, because it is all too real.”
—Laura Miller,
The New York Times Book Review

“The Institute is another winner: creepy and touching and horrifyingly believable, all at once.”
The Boston Globe

“This is King at his best.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Gripping… This is a thriller — and a good one, at that. There’s little in the way of King’s usual emphasis on the occult beyond the topic of psychic powers, which, according to surveys, as many as 40% of Americans believe are real. But there’s no shortage of monsters, that’s for sure. They just come in the coldblooded, end-justifies-the-means, laws-don’t-apply-to-us human variety. We have no trouble believing that those types of people are real. And they are plenty scary.”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Fans will draw parallels between Luke’s tight band of friends and the kids at the center of
It, in which the Losers Club faces off against a murderous clown, but this is an entirely original story that can only come from the mind of a master teller like King.”
The Florida Times Union

“King wows with the most gut-wrenching tale of kids triumphing over evil since
It….Tapping into the minds of the young characters, King creates a sense of menace and intimacy that will have readers spellbound…Not a word is wasted in this meticulously crafted novel, which once again proves why King is the king of horror.”
Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

"You don’t need to be a horror fan to read
The Institute — or to have The Institute take over your life, since this is generally what happens with King’s novels...His storytelling transcends genre."
—Marion Winnick,

“Shocking suspense and hallmark thrills…
The Institute offers a thrilling reading experience and rousing tribute to the resilience of children and the unending fight against evil.”
—G. Robert Frazier, BookPage

About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than sixty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Fairy Tale, Billy SummersIf It BleedsThe InstituteElevationThe OutsiderSleeping Beauties (cowritten with his son Owen King), and the Bill Hodges trilogy: End of WatchFinders Keepers, and Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel and a television series streaming on Peacock). His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller. His epic works The Dark TowerItPet Sematary, Doctor Sleep, and Firestarter are the basis for major motion pictures, with It now the highest-grossing horror film of all time. He is the recipient of the 2020 Audio Publishers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2018 PEN America Literary Service Award, the 2014 National Medal of Arts, and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. 

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07N943MFX
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Scribner (September 10, 2019)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ September 10, 2019
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 5205 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 560 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 36,170 ratings

About the author

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Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His first crime thriller featuring Bill Hodges, MR MERCEDES, won the Edgar Award for best novel and was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award. Both MR MERCEDES and END OF WATCH received the Goodreads Choice Award for the Best Mystery and Thriller of 2014 and 2016 respectively.

King co-wrote the bestselling novel Sleeping Beauties with his son Owen King, and many of King's books have been turned into celebrated films and television series including The Shawshank Redemption, Gerald's Game and It.

King was the recipient of America's prestigious 2014 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for distinguished contribution to American Letters. In 2007 he also won the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He lives with his wife Tabitha King in Maine.

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
36,170 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 10, 2023
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 29, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Institute Depicts Monsters that Aren’t Supernatural
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 29, 2019

The Institute depicts monsters that aren’t supernatural, but instead, look just like you and me. In this review, I’ll give an overview of this novel without spoilers while expressing my opinion about his latest thriller.

I have read most of Mr. King’s book, and this can stand toe-to-toe with the best of them. The kids are the heart and soul of this story. Their stories will tug at your heartstrings.


Mysterious individuals sneak into a home at night and kill the parents of a genius child prodigy named Luke Ellis. These individuals then kidnapped Luke and put him in The Institute in the backwoods of Maine with other kids that also have abilities like telekinesis and telepathy. Now Avery, Iris, Luke, and multiple other children must find a way out of this sinister institute that seeks to exploit their abilities, even though no one has ever successfully escaped before.


The narration is in the third person by an outside, unknown perspective. It gives great detail on how each character focused on sees the world. For example, the parents of Luke are both proud of and scared for their child. Tim Jamieson, a drifter with a law enforcement background, who takes on the job of “night knocker,” has a pessimistic outlook on the world that gradually brightens the longer he stays in DuPray, South Carolina.


The book is set in modern-day, as it mentions and takes a few jabs at Donald Trump as the president. This drives the underlying plot about the horror of abducting children and treating them as a means to an end. Stephen King has criticized the Trump administration for inhumane acts for “the greater good,” a similar theme expressed in The Institute. The book, according to The Washington Post Review, calls out “the inhumane treatment of children and the loss of a moral compass for those who inflict it.”


Just as It and some of his other works, The Institute has a side theme that emphasizes working together can be more powerful than we realize. The Institute also talks about how even the tiniest choices can lead to marvelous possibilities and circumstances.


The Institute’s genre is “horror.” In fact, The Institute won the Goodreads Choice Award in the Horror category, garnering nearly 40,000 more votes than its closest competitor, even beating out King’s son Joe Hill’s Full Throttle.
King’s other works that fall into this genre have shown to have compelling, edge-of-your-seat plots, but this is considered one of his scariest. The horror of the underlying message of this latest work and the possible posers of our government, give readers more chills than killer clowns, vampires, rabid dogs, and ghosts.


Stephen King has shaped a generation with the over fifty books he has sold all over the world. Some of his most famous novels like It, The Shining, 11/22/63, and The Stand, have moved on to other forms of media like movies and television series. Though it has many of the same foundational themes and ideas that King’s other novels have, The Institute tells a different story in a chilling way that will keep you up at night.


The longer Luke stays in the institute, the more he learns about the sinister system and how it’s structured. Obedient kids are treated with tokens for various treats at a vending machine, while those who aren’t compliant get punished, often severely.

The agents in the institute conduct sordid experiments on the inhabitants to strengthen their abilities, or so it would seem. However, some of the children believe it is just sadistic torture.

My Opinion

Some of the main characters include Luke Ellis, Kalisha, Avery Dixon, Iris, George, Nick, Tim Jamieson, Mrs. Sigsby, and Trevor Stackhouse.

The director, Mrs. Sigsby, is tasked with running cruel experiments on these extraordinary children. If I were casting a movie or TV series for this book, I would choose Linda Hunt “Hetty Lange” from NCIS: Los Angeles to star in her role. Just put her in a red pantsuit and stand back!

I would probably cast Dean Norris, the Town Councilman from Under the Dome as Trevor Stackhouse, the Security Supervisor. You might also remember him playing the drug enforcement agent in Breaking Bad. Likewise, I believe Ryan Gosling would fit the part of Tim Jamieson very well. Just my opinion, of course.

My favorite would have to be Luke Ellis, as he was an enthusiastic and bright young kid who slowly changes. Luke might be played best by an unknown, but I believe Finn Wolfhard, Mike Wheeler in Stranger Things could also pull off the part.

The main characters interact similarly to two people in a chess match: each has to make a move and be able to predict what the other will do. Any of the cast of child actors from Stranger Things would fit right into this story.

If you’re someone who likes to read about the horrors hidden within our society, then The Institute will be a good read for you. I encourage others to read this book, as it makes you think about the world around us as well as what it’s becoming. The initiation of change can’t come without awareness, first.

I’ll happily read more from Stephen King because he tells what seems like regular stories in such a unique perspective that it makes those stories intriguing. I’m one of the “constant readers” who would buy if he published a new book every week.
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 4, 2023
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 31, 2023
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 23, 2022
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Top reviews from other countries

5.0 out of 5 stars Simply brilliant. King delivers again.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on September 10, 2019
134 people found this helpful
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Dozy Mare
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on September 15, 2019
76 people found this helpful
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M. D. Hart
2.0 out of 5 stars Confused
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on October 1, 2019
46 people found this helpful
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5.0 out of 5 stars Here we are again, folks! Will Mr King ever disappoint?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on September 13, 2019
50 people found this helpful
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's the journey, not the destination
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on September 14, 2019
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