Stephen King’s latest novel, The Institute, sees the famed storyteller excelling at something he has done better than other writers for decades: telling a story from the perspective of a child.
Of course, King famously wrote from the perspective of children in his novel, IT, which has a movie adaptation now playing at theaters. But his child-led stories also include Firestarter and the novella The Body, which was adapted into the movie Stand By Me. King has a special ability to write children that you know, children that you were and children that you will cheer for, flaws and all. He finds a way to inhabit their insecurities and make their fears the readers fears, too.
In The Institute, King focuses on a boy named Luke and a few friends he makes at the titular institute, where he was brought after being kidnapped from his home and ripped away from his family. In the sinister facility for children who didn’t do anything wrong, the children are tested on like experiments and manipulated for their special abilities.
The Institute feels, at times, like a mashup of some of King’s classic stories and, in some ways, a reclaiming of the type of storytelling he rose to fame on – storytelling about a group of kids relying on one another to confront an evil entity. If it feels like Stranger Things, that’s because Stranger Things feels like King.
For me, there’s something special about opening to the first page of a new Stephen King novel, and I devoured The Institute in just a few days. Like Carrie White, Arnie Cunningham, Danny Torrence, Bill Denbrough and many other of King’s notable child protagonists before them, Luke Ellis and his friends from The Institute take readers on an exhilarating trip through adolescence with a supernatural twist and King delivers a couple hundred more pages of heart-pounding tension.
The Institute by Stephen King is available wherever books are sold.