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The Institute

Narrated by: Santino Fontana
Length: 18 hrs and 59 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2,410 ratings)

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Summary

Combining the suspense of The Outsider with the childhood camaraderie in It, The Institute is a powerful new novel from Stephen King which is destined to become the number one blockbuster of autumn 2019.

Deep in the woods of Maine, there is a dark state facility where kids, abducted from across the United States, are incarcerated. In the Institute they are subjected to a series of tests and procedures meant to combine their exceptional gifts - telepathy, telekinesis - for concentrated effect. 

Luke Ellis is the latest recruit. He's just a regular 12-year-old, except he's not just smart, he's super-smart. And he has another gift which the Institute wants to use.... 

Far away in a small town in South Carolina, former cop Tim Jamieson has taken a job working for the local Sheriff. He's basically just walking the beat. But he's about to take on the biggest case of his career. 

Back in the Institute's downtrodden playground and corridors where posters advertise 'just another day in paradise', Luke, his friend Kalisha and the other kids are in no doubt that they are prisoners, not guests. And there is no hope of escape. 

But great events can turn on small hinges, and Luke is about to team up with a new, even younger recruit, Avery Dixon, whose ability to read minds is off the scale. While the Institute may want to harness their powers for covert ends, the combined intelligence of Luke and Avery is beyond anything that even those who run the experiments - even the infamous Mrs Sigsby - suspect.

Thrilling, suspenseful, heartbreaking, The Institute is a stunning novel of childhood betrayed and hope regained.

©2019 Stephen King (P)2019 Simon & Schuster Audio

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Great things Turn on Small Hinges


Stephen King is a very clever author, he made his name with Blockbusters like IT featuring typical good vs supernatural evil, classic horror tales. Obviously he’s progressed since then but this one shakes things up a bit again. Not really a horror as supernatural gets a role reversal in a mysterious Institute that experiments on kids with special powers. The evil is in the human heart and is as awful in its way as anything King has conjured before. But is it that straightforward ? A question that stays to the end.

The book starts slow maybe, but it’s also very strong with trademark King story-telling as we get a lengthy introduction to Tim Jamieson one of the key characters in the book. ‘Great things turn on small hinges.' Writes King as he documents the series of odd chances and decisions that guide Tim to a small East Coast town. This concept of great things being controlled by small hinges runs through the core of the book from the off and is absolutely key to how the characters respond right through to the explanations at the end.

Foremost amongst these ‘small hinges’ are the children of course. Cannon fodder in a greater war they are reminiscent of the gang in IT, varied characters given quite some depth by the author. In some ways King didn’t seem to show quite the same empathy with the condition of being a child as in IT but these are not ordinary children so maybe that explains it. In fact Ben himself, the lead protagonist is something of a child genius so was always going to be a bit different.

Handling the tough job of narrating all this is Santino Fontana, a new narrator to me personally. He does a fine job of giving the characters a multitude of voices and accents and I very much enjoyed listening to him. He did seem to have an odd habit of occasionally reading whole sections including the narrative and the dialogue in the relevant character’s voice. Whether this was a direction he received or his own initiative it seemed a little odd especially as the narrative described the character externally rather than it just being their thoughts.

By the end of the Institute I once again felt like I had spent time with a master storyteller. All of the characters from the children through to the staff and doctors at the institute were given, depth, personality and a strong sense of identity. There is evil, there is friendship there is bravery and sacrifice as well as cowardice and duplicitousness. Most importantly there is a great story that kept me wanting more.

24 people found this helpful

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The master story writer at his very finest.

Utterly brilliant.
Clear your schedule because you will not be able to stop listening.
It’s as perfect as a book can get.

The narrator is wonderful

10 people found this helpful

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Pure addictive Stephen King

I have been listening to The Institute straight for 2 and a bit hours and I have had to turn it off for a while just to get some work done! Stephen has introduced some of the main characters so brilliantly I feel as if I could invite them over and chat about their lives. The story has just started to kick off (no spoilers) and I just want to sit and listen with no interruptions and no breaks. Up to now this is Stephen King at his addictive best.

23 people found this helpful

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Slow start but stick to it, classic King awaits

if your hoping for true king style of fast-paced character switches between chapters, as seen in king classics such as Mr Mercedes/the stand & the outsider - then this book will take you a little while longer to warm up to. The institute has 2 key storylines/characters but rather than jumper from one to the other like we are used to, king gives us a longer introduction to each. This isn't a put off at all, frankly the opposite. I've fallen in love with these characters in the same way that I did for Bill in the Mr. Mercedes trilogies - king has captured Tim and lewis in one book, in the same way, it took 3 books for Bill Hodges or 42 hours worth of reading in the stand.

This book does have very strong stand by me vibes, mixed together with the otherworldly story of stranger things.

another king classic

18 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

I usually love Stephen King books, but this one just wasn’t for me. At first it was hard to get into but after the first few chapters it got better. The first half/two thirds it’s interesting enough to keep listening. The last half/third though is a slog. I just lost interest and it took so long to get through it as I wasn’t paying attention or I would fall asleep. When it finally ended I was left feeling disappointed and kinda like I wasted way too much of my time on it.

7 people found this helpful

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Another winner from The Master!

excellent performance
King at his best
thought provoking
difficult to switch off
sad to come to the end

3 people found this helpful

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Fantastic: King at his best!

Loved it. King at his best. Laughed, cried and was horrified in equal measure. Great, thought provoking story, and a terrific performance by narrator.

7 people found this helpful

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Gripping

I loved it.. Kept me listening for 3 days!
Brilliant narration
Its a fascinating subject and every character was described in such depth that I saw them all as I listened

6 people found this helpful

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Outstanding.

A lifelong fan I found this to be right up there with a great storyline and a fascinating tale well told.

A great read that would make a suoerb story for a movie or TV adaption.

The book was complimented by an excellent narrator.

2 people found this helpful

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Superb

The king of storytelling seems to get better with age.
Worth the wait after the brilliant 'The Outsider'
Superb narration and storytelling. 10/10

5 people found this helpful

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  • Maj Johansen
  • 08-11-19

Great naration, and of course .... excellent story

- The story is in best King style. Great characters, Life just bursts out of the fabric of life. One story starts it all, and another unfolds, in a completely different setting, and you can't wait, for the two stories to collide. Beautiful narration. -and of course ... Thank you again to Mr. King, truely one of the great storytellers of this time and age.

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  • Jaco
  • 20-10-19

Not the same as the Stephen King I remember.

Seems that the dude has a serious with God lately, that alone is a deal breaker for me. This story just doesn't get going and I would probably not finish it.

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  • Belinda Knight
  • 07-10-19

Another incredible novel by the master.

Loved this from cover to cover. Great performance and even though it is fiction it’s somehow believable. Talk about messing with your mind.