Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Kidding: Stephen King Is at His Best with 'The Institute'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

No Kidding: Stephen King Is at His Best with 'The Institute'

Article excerpt

Some of Stephen King's most beloved books have pitted children against the system. Think "It." Think "Firestarter." And now, think "The Institute."

Because this new book definitely squares kids against the system while giving readers a healthy fear of what the government can do in the name of ... the government.

But before we get to Luke Ellis, the kid who is the centerpiece of the book, the author takes readers on what we know will not really be a tangent, providing some backstory on a former Florida cop who winds up drifting north to South Carolina. And just as readers are starting to wonder what King has in store for Tim Jamieson, the author shifts the story to meet Luke.

By all accounts, 12-year-old Luke is a prodigy. Smart enough to be accepted into MIT and Emerson. Enrolled at a swanky private school for gifted children, thanks to a scholarship that makes it affordable for his schoolteacher mom and plant foreman dad. And a good kid, to boot: not a snotty intellectual but a regular kid with friends, video games and parents who clearly love him.

Which lets regular King readers know the storm is coming. It does, arriving in a black SUV that pulls up at the Ellis' suburban home late one night and unloads a killing crew that leaves Luke an orphan. With the parents dead, the trio of killers called Ruby Red load up Luke and take him to the Institute.

Luke awakens in a near-perfect replica of his own bedroom, sans window, in a building filled with other children taken from their families, all so the Institute can harness the power inside these kids. Each of them has some level of telepathic or telekinetic ability, and this secretive government seeks to use that power to manipulate all sorts of things to its advantage.

(Yes, the Netflix series "Stranger Things" comes to mind. And that's fine.)

Nevermind the mental, physical and emotional suffering of the kids. …

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