Book Review: The Institute by Stephen King

Before I get to that review I know you’re simply dying to read- I just wanted to note that I know I haven’t been as consistent in keeping up with the comments not only on my blog but just generally following what all of you are doing.

Remember back in June when I was unemployed?  It only lasted a month (it’s a good thing, but also an exhausting thing).  I am now commuting an additional hour each day to and from work, getting home an hour later than I used to, and rushing to get the dog walked and dinner on the table and the kid ready for bed.

So please forgive me!  I am trying to keep up with everyone still.  Don’t feel obligated to reply to my flurry of comments on last week’s posts.  I know I can be kind of obnoxious returning to comment again and again, but the conversations about books is why I blog. Sure I love the reviewing and stuff- but I honestly just don’t have enough people in my day-to-day life to chat books with, which is why I come and bug all of you :).  On to other things.

The Institute by Stephen King

Rating:  ★★★★

I added myself to the library waitlist for this back in April.  Not kidding.  And by then I’d already been checking to see if I could add myself for a few months.  That’s how long I’ve been waiting.

Anyway- while it wasn’t the epic I’ve been wanting to read since the last time I read Under the Dome, it was still thoroughly enjoyable and well worth reading.  The opening was perfect.  We meet one of the side characters, Tim Jamieson, as he finds his way to the small town of Dupray, South Carolina.  Slowly, we are introduced to some of the background characters.

It was everything I love about King’s characters, the subtle detailing that brings them to life.  The homeless woman who follows conspiracy theories and wears a sombrero, the motel owner who’s too nosy for his own good, the brothers who no one can tell apart and run the convenience store… it never ceases to amaze me how he can paint a full portrait in just a few lines and make the world feel as populated and colorful as the one we live in.

I was so enchanted by these opening chapters and feeling like I was going to get exactly what I’d been hoping for, it was really jarring to switch to Luke’s POV and not see Jamieson again for another 300 pages or so.  I just kept thinking, yeah, but what’s going on in Dupray?  Surely there’s a reason we were introduced to Jamieson so early?

But sadly it wasn’t.  And I think I was so taken with Jamieson as a character and Dupray as the setting that it detracted a little from my enjoyment of Luke and his friends.

A heads up to all the parents out there- this novel focuses heavily on kids, and nevermind happy endings, they don’t have happy stories, period.  What they are put through is horrible.  I think it was made more tolerable by the very fantastic premise, feeling like it was a far departure from reality, but it was still difficult at times.

The pacing was pretty quick, with shortish chapters, and I was never really bored at any point in time.  I made the mistake of thinking I knew how it would end, and I was terribly, horribly, wrong.  I wish I had let my expectations go a bit, so that I would have felt more of the suspense.

WARNING: If you are uber sensitive to spoilers- I recommend stopping here.  I won’t actually talk about plot or events, but more themes and ideas.


The ending was pretty shocking, and I don’t often say that of a King book.  Usually I have an idea… good wins out over evil… the villains are served their just desserts…

This ending is much more ambiguous- but it was ambiguous in a good way that made me think.  I know what physically happened to all of the characters, I don’t feel like I’m left wondering about where they’re headed.  But I was given a lot to think about.  Right vs. Wrong.  Moral and Immoral.  How one weighs the greater good against the rights and freedoms of a few.

All in all – this felt like classic King while also feeling like something new.  I enjoyed it for the most part even if it won’t go down as an all time favorite.  If you like King, this is definitely worth checking out!

The Institute can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.


35 thoughts on “Book Review: The Institute by Stephen King

  1. Honestly, I think we should all just applaud King for continuing to write after he’s already written an extreme amount of books, and the fact that you found something new in this is pretty cool. I’ll most likely stay away from this because of the child torture or whatever is going on, even with older kids that still is hard to read. Awesome review as always, Sarah! And I love your commenting style, by the way. I wish I could respond to comments faster than I do!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw thanks Tammy- I totally get why it takes awhile! I previously had the luxury of working 5 minutes from home and being able to pause my work to answer comments. Now I’m busy non stop and lve 30 minutes from where I work so I’m just losing day time hours for blogging.

      And I agree on Stephen King’s commendations- he’s so prolific, he should be awarded for that alone!


  2. Congrats on the job! (Also I would gladly talk books all freaking day with you- you are an awesome person and I request you be my friend xD)

    This review of this book sounds absolutely amazing and you just made me want to buy it like ASAP. I’m adding it to my Goodreads and keeping an eye out for it at the library or the next time I visit the store! Thanks for the review and I hope you have an awesome week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha- thanks Sasha! The feeling is mutual! I need all my blogger friends to move closer so we can have an IRL book club, lol.

      And I’m glad you enjoyed the review! This book is definitely worth reading so let me know what you think!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been thinking of trying a King book for years (I know… I think I’m probably the only one who hasn’t read one yet 😂) and was anticipating this one as my first. I’m keen after reading your review! Great post 😊 Jen

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations on your new job! That sort of change can be really tiring, so it’s totally understandable for you to get behind on other things. 🙂

    This was a good review. Thanks for the heads up about terrible things happening to kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations on the job.👍

    I feel the whole talking to people about books thing (yes, I note the irony as I hardly ever comment.😂). No-one that I work with reads, it is like talking to a brick wall if you mention books.😂 It is bad enough mentioning video games. They are a waste of time, even though it is sat in front of a screen which is the same as watching TV (which the people do) and they see that as a fine use of their time but video games, damn them to hell.😂 Books are worse, might as well be talking gibberish than books.😂

    Glad to know that the book is good. Always sceptical about King books and their ending (Under the Dome).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I totally understand how overwhelming it can be with all the things you have to do and I’m just glad to hear that you’re taking care of those things before anything blog-related too. I’m sure no one who has a brain would scold you for anything here. Take your time and blog whenever you can and want to, Sarah! 😀

    Awesome review by the way. I feel like I should make it my duty to read everything by King but then I find my reading scheduled booked to the max every. single. time. This sounds fantastic, even with your warning regarding the kids and their faith. I’d definitely give it a go just to find out what’s up.

    By the way, I often hear that King likes to reference his own books within his stories… Almost like you don’t have the choice but to read everything in their publication order if you want to catch those references and enjoy them! Is that true? 😮 😮

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lashaan! I actually wasn’t expecting people to be so supportive- I feel like such a crappy blogger friend when I don’t get to everyone’s posts right away.

      And no it’s definitely not necessary to read King in order! He does have a set of interrelated novels set in Castle Rock, and he definitely references his own stuff while writing. One example that comes to mind is Needful Things. He mentioned quite a few other books in there.

      But really all it is is an Easter egg for his constant readers. It puts a smile on your face when you encounter it but isn’t detracting from any one else’s enjoyment of the story.

      I would recommend reading The Outsider after the Mr. Mercedes trilogy though. It’s a spin off of that first series and in order to understand one of the characters you need to be familiar with them from Mr. Mercedes.

      One fun book to read after reading some King is his son’s book NOS4A2- chock full of King references.

      The other thing to consider is that you are probably unknowingly familiar with a lot of King’s stuff already because so much of his work is tied to movies that were wildly popular. If he mentions a killer clown you know he’s referring to Pennywise… a writer with multiple personalities, Secret window secret garden, a hotel where the owner goes crazy, The Shining, a rabid dog, Cujo. I haven’t even read half of those but I know what he means when he mentions them!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry for the late reply!
        Don’t feel bad, you can’t blog at all if you don’t take care of yourself, and we love talking to you whenever we can, and if you can’t do it as much we just gain more appreciation for when you do 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Ooof, long commutes are the worst. I hope you enjoy the new job, though! That makes it all worth it.

    I was really excited to see this review, because I’ve been waiting to start seeing opinions on this one! This band of characters sounds quirky and perfect, and I just love it. I’m also a big fan of ambiguous endings, as long as the book feels complete, and it sounds like it worked here. I’ll have to add this one to my TBR for sure. :3

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Since I know what it means to have to submit to a hour-long commute twice a day – and to see your free time so curtailed – I can empathize with your plight. Sometimes blogging feels like one of the rare moments of sanity in my entire day… 😀
    As for the new King book, I’m very curious about this one, but I will have to brace myself first, because suffering kids always wrench my heart. Thanks for sharing!


  9. Pingback: Month in Review: September 2019 | Hamlets & Hyperspace

  10. Great review. I agree the characters are well developed despite it taking a while to get going and you end up really caring about what happens to them. The nastiness of the institute employees also makes their just desserts sweeter. I like the realism of slacking workers and the shoddiness of the institutes cameras and blindspots too – this is what places like this are really like 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes King always does a wonderful job with the details. I think that’s what I love about him. And I don’t know that any of his characters are ever favorites for me, but they always feel very human and flawed, right down to the gas station owning brothers.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Year in Review: 2019 Wrap Up | Hamlets & Hyperspace

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