The Institute by Stephen King


When they kidnap 12-year-old Luke Ellis for his minor telekinetic ability they overlook the power of his very significant intellect. Luke is brilliant and that power is something the evil Institute people had not expected. 

Luke wakes up in a room that looks just like his bedroom back home. The door opens onto a hallway decorated with posters of romping children with mottos like “JUST ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE” and “I CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY!” Of course, the Institute is not a paradise it destroys its victims. It also destroys the “moral compass” of those who work there too long.

Luke teaches a group of traumatized kids to understand and utilize their own abilities, and to turn those abilities against their captors. In creating human “weapons” of the minds of the kids to be used against perceived enemies, the Institute created a weapon to be used against itself. Luke’s intellect with the linked mental efforts of the children, and with significant help from a powerful 10-year-old psychic named Avery Dixon the balance of power shifts and Luke escapes making his way to DuPray, South Carolina, where he meets up with S.C., Tim Jamieson, a former policeman.

Is this really one of the scariest of King’s novels? I don’t think so. In some ways it seemed to be less gory and horrifying but it was well done with a plot that took some unexpected turns. It was what you would expect of Steven King and worth the read.


“this life we think we’re living isn’t real. It’s just a shadow play, and I for one will be glad when the lights go out on it. In the dark, all the shadows disappear.”

“Back in the main corridor—what Luke now understood to be the residents’ wing—the little girls, Gerda and Greta, were standing and watching with wide, frightened eyes. They were holding hands and clutching dolls as identical as they were. They reminded Luke of twins in some old horror movie.”

“Between midnight and four, everyone should have permission to speak freely.”

“He wanted to tell Luke that he loved him. But there were no words, and maybe no need of them. Or telepathy. Sometimes a hug was telepathy.”

The Institute: A Novel
By Stephen King