‘The Institute’ is another of Stephen King’s bizarre but strangely believable conceptual ideas. It features a young boy named Luke who was kidnapped from his home by government officials who want him for his psychic abilities. When he gets to ‘The Institute’ he learns from other captured children that there are doctors who inject you and electrocute you all for the purpose of seeing what they refer to as the ‘Satsi Lights’. Once you have seen them you are moved from the ‘front half’ to the ‘back half’ where all of the children just disappear, nobody knows what happens there and nobody wants to find out.
Nobody but the reader that is because Stephen King makes you wait as long as possible before giving the big reveal, which trust us is really big. King is a master with words and he knows just how long to make a reader wait before telling them what they want to know.
Anyone who has read a Stephen King book before will know of his obsessions with the idea of special children, as seen in novels like ‘The Shining’. They will also know that these children are far from helpless and that they actually set the events of their novels in motion, ‘The Institute’ is no different.
Although it is not a horror novel in the way that the world-renown ‘Carrie’ or ‘It’ are, it is still horrifying. The concept it explores is similar to Auschwitz in many ways, the staff blindly commit atrocious acts with the misguided idea that they are doing the right thing. I think that everyone can agree there is never a good reason to torture innocent children regardless of the possible outcome. It is difficult to read a book which essentially centres around the torture of the most vulnerable members of our population. But what is perhaps even more disturbing than even this is the learnt self-sacrificing attitudes of the children. Without giving too much away, the children are far admirable to the point of unbelievability, stuck in an unwinnable battle against the government.