Top positive review
A great character study about people who justify their horrible choices
Reviewed in the United States on September 11, 2019
King writes so well about the innocence of kids. He also writes at his best when the subject is pure evil. Slap them together and you have The Institute. The book starts in a simple little town where a cop passing through takes a job as a night knocker. There's a kid, a really smart kid, who's 12 years old and getting ready to attend MIT because he's, you know, special. That's the setting. From there it gets chilling. Even without ghosts, or vampires or outer space boogie men.
The child, Luke, is taken in the middle of the night. His folks are murdered. He wakes up at The Institute in Maine in a room that's just like his - almost. There's other kids there and he gets the skinny from a young girl in the hallway, seemingly smoking a cigarette. She tells him that they "do stuff" to the kids, injections-flickering lights-dunking, but at least they're in the Front Half. You don't want to go to the Back Half. No, that's like the roach motel. Kids go in and don't ever come out.
To say this is a character study of the people throughout history who have told themselves that the horrible, hideous, atrocious things they do are for a "higher good". This book is King at his best. It's tense and I found myself ill at ease throughout the 500 plus pages. But it's good. A good story, good writing, and yeah, sure, it's relevant in the America of today and about our choices.