February 11th, 2020

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Book #2 of 2020: The Institute

The Institute by Stephen King
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)



Before I start my review: Wow that cover is odd. On my Kindle, covers are maybe a quarter inch high and in black and white, so I basically don't see them at all. This cover is pretty and kind of cool, but I guess it's supposed to be symbolic of the story more than accurately representing it. It's just odd.

The Institute's story can be summed up with a question: When is it worth physically and emotionally torturning children? Before you say "Never!", really think about the question. Is it worth torturing one child if it saves the lives of 1,000 other children? 10,000? Would it be worth it to torture one child to save the entire world? [Spoiler]This isn't to say I think they were right to do it. I believe, as the reader was supposed to, that the math was flawed and it was all unnecessary. But it's still an interesting question, if it were true. End spoiler.

The plot followed a young boy, Luke, who had very minor psychic powers (could rattle empty plates, maybe make the pages of an open book turn). He was kidnapped, his parents murdered, so he could be shipped off to a complex hidden in the Maine woods. There he and other kids like them were "used up" -- their powers used until there was nothing left of their minds. Oh and they tortured the kids and did experiments on them to try to make their psychic powers stronger.

I loved this story because the horror was so realistic. No monsters under the bed, all the monsters were the people. The characters themselves often compared their situation to the Nazi experiments, and I found that comparison true as well.

The ending was kind of weak for me, but man the journey to get there was wild. I read this book so fast, so much time out of my day to read. I completely loved it.

One other minor negative: Amazon reviews mentioned how political (anti-Trump) the characters were, and as much as I wish the man would vanish from the face of the Earth, I kind of agree. The political stuff, and the many real world current references (like TV shows airing right now) kind of knocked me out of the story a little.