For all of the countless pop cultural references that spring to mind when reading “The Institute,” Stephen King’s latest novel, it’s worth remembering that nearly all of them are in our collective consciousness because of King himself.
It’s the tale of Luke Ellis, a 12-year-old boy with a brilliant mind and latent telekinetic powers whose parents are murdered by several intruders. The intruders then kidnap him and take him to a mysterious location deep in the Maine woods. There, he finds he’s one of many “powered” kids whose talents are being honed and exploited by a group of shadowy operatives, led by the sinister Mrs. Sigsby.
It’s also the tale of Tim Jamieson, an ex-cop with street smarts and a good heart, who opens the novel and then disappears for many pages before reappearing much later.
Luke and Tim will be drawn together by novel’s end, but not before readers are treated to an overflowing buffet of classic King imagery and action. Besides the telekinetic and telepathic kids — a career-long favorite subject of King’s — there are sadistic guards, small town weirdos, an epic road trip, gibbering lunatics, and low-key references to the state of the U.S. under the Trump administration. It’s paced beautifully, ramping up to a satisfying, action-packed climax before giving way to a satisfying emotional ending.
Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.
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