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The Institute

A Novel
Narrated by: Santino Fontana
Length: 18 hrs and 59 mins
Categories: Fiction, Horror
4.5 out of 5 stars (18,691 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From number one New York Times best-selling author Stephen King comes the most riveting and unforgettable story of kids confronting evil since It - publishing just as the second part of It, the movie, lands in theaters.

In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’ parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents - telekinesis and telepathy - who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and 10-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”

In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from The Institute.

As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of It, The Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.

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

Critic Reviews

"Stephen King's newest audiobook is compulsively entertaining and features a dazzling performance by narrator Santino Fontana.... Fontana does wonders with this diverse lineup of young characters who band together to fight their captors. Each of them sounds authentic and unique. Meanwhile, the adult characters, with a few exceptions, are a nightmarish bunch. Through them, Fontana shows that evil can have many different voices.... [King's] and Fontana's talents are a winning combination." (AudioFile magazine)

Editor's Pick

The King is back!
"Stephen King’s new thriller, The Institute, takes its place at the head of the table—comfortably seated alongside his other great works. As a huge Stephen King fan, I have been impatiently awaiting this listen for quite some time. To make it an even bigger deal, it’s performed by the great and all-powerful narrator, Santino Fontana. Talk about a wonder team! The story starts off with Luke Ellis, whose life is turned upside down literally overnight. After his parents are murdered and he’s kidnapped by mysterious people in an unmarked car, Luke is dropped into The Institute, where some kids disappear behind doors for being bad (Back Half) while other kids are awarded tokens for being good (Front Half). Will Luke be able to escape, or will he soon fall victim to what’s behind the Back Half of The Institute?"—Nicole R., Audible Editor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Story

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointed

I remained hopeful for the full 18 hours of listening, but alas the last hour held all the juice, and was crammed into such a fraction of what I felt like was a large investment of my time. This is not the King I know and love. There seemed to be multiple missed opportunities to expand and develop these characters and instead those voids were filled with snarky political jabs that didn’t contribute anything to the story. I was also disappointed that Tim and his SC crew were bookended instead of developed a little more. The entirety of the story just felt like something was...missing. I got a Nazi Germany vibe from The Institute the whole time, but throwing in the visit from the Lisping Man after the fact (that went nowhere) was the only link to that, and felt very much like an afterthought, a quick add-in to give it some background that definitely deserved a little more.

The narration was top notch and quite honestly the only thing that kept me listening until the end. Otherwise, I was rather disappointed.

29 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this novel.. but..

Sometimes Stephen keeps me glued to a story. I have called in sick to work because I had to read a new section of the 'Green Mile,' and I think I ran and hid at the library and neglected my family for a day when I read 11-22-63. There have been so many others that I have devoured voraciously, and I *really* wanted to like 'The Institute,' but alas I did not.

The story starts out with a drifter in New England who takes a job as a door knocker/security person. He seems interesting enough. Then we get into the kiddos who have found themselves at 'The Institute' where weird things happen. Seemingly gifted children are subjected to several movies, food, and testing- and we really don't know why. It seems that there is a government conspiracy to suck the smart out of children for a greater purpose.

The problem is, it's repetitive and boring. I couldn't quite get into it. I felt like I was skimming the surface of the story because there was just, well.. no point where I could bite into it.

King's books are often hit or miss for me, and this one wasn't terrible, but it wasn't anything to write home to mom about.. And, I am disappointed.

-Wendi

135 of 153 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Entertained But Disappointed

Ultimately, Stephen King’s “The Institute” left me disappointed, but I am not unhappy that I downloaded it. The narration is great, the characters and their motivations are portrayed clearly, and the plot, although one of King’s weakest in my opinion, is solid enough to keep my interest. In fact, I got through the audio (18 hours of it) very quickly and am sure I will go back for more. And yet, the book as a whole is unsatisfying: not bad but not one of his best.

Without revealing too much of the plot, I will say simply that it follows a “revenge” pattern, with the protagonist suffering horribly for two-thirds of the novel before getting anything like what might be called justice. After the brutal and (if I’m being honest) tiresome, torture sequences end, the action accelerates, story lines converge, and (some) mysteries are explained, all of it accompanied by a grand finale of the usual, imaginative depictions of The Big Good-vs-Evil Showdown.

Pardon me if my tone seems somewhat negative, but I was hoping for more. The world that King depicts in “The Institute” certainly seems to have more to it than what is presented here. It says a lot that if a sequel were offered, I would be back in line for more since even a mildly disappointing King novel is better than most of what is available, yet, I can’t help feeling disappointed. I was hoping for King to knock it out of the park with this one.

114 of 130 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Definitely King..

Was good, but kinda predicable. Felt like a jumble of movies and books I had seen and read. I don’t regret listening at all, but just felt like something I had read long ago. Knew what was going to happen because I had read it before, ya know ?

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • DT
  • 09-19-19

Did the King Really Write This?

I wanted so badly to like this book. A fan of King since around 1981, I've seen the grail, the great, the good and the not-so-good. I had hoped for a bit of the King of old, where character development was not something you noticed happening. Where laugh out loud moments were commonplace, not because something was necessarily funny, but because you were hit with just how TRUE something was. And really really mean and nasty bad guys. I mean, Mean.
Now, the bad guys in The Institute are mean, don't get me wrong. But they're mean like you're reading a textbook about mean people written by a person who normally writes math problems. Does that make sense?
Maybe the narration gets in the way a bit, as it has a habit of doing. It takes a very special type of person to do justice to an SK novel (Frank Muller, may he rest in peace).
Also, and I'm not sure if this is something that's always been present in King's novels...I don't think it is, but what's with the political jabs? Nothing stops your roller coaster with a brick wall like an ill-placed, almost non-sequitur of a political statement. I have to be honest, I did almost stop listening at one point.
All that being said, this book is better than most of those in the thriller and horror genres out there today, in my opinion.
Please keep them coming, Constant Writer.

61 of 73 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

More isnt always better.

this is a decent story that was mad about 3 times longer than it needed to be, many parts feel like they drag on endlessly.
I am a huge Stephan King fan but this story could have done without all the political nonsense, I have to see and hear it all on a daily basis in real life I would prefer the fantasy I am trying to escape into not have your political ideology spewed through it randomly. I also found quite a few parts mildly condescending.
I wouldn't pay money for it but if you've got a free credit and lots of time to waste you could do worse.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • MK
  • 09-12-19

Top Five King Novel

If you’re considering this book, chances are you’re a fan of King. And you’ve probably noticed that some of his novels are super weird and out there, while others are just regular weird—and I say that with the understanding that all of King’s books are awesome.

This one is just regular weird. It’s more like Doctor Sleep and Mr Mercedes than it is Tommyknockers.

For me - and I don’t want to spoil anything, so this will lack substance - this book pulled me in more than any other. Maybe it’s some unknown childhood baggage that my therapist will uncover one day. Or maybe King continues to get better and better—which doesn’t seem possible for someone who became the literal king of this genre decades ago.

King has used this “abused child” theme in other books and his use of telepathy is not new. He intertwines the two in a masterful way. He gets you rooting for the hero’s and pissed and the abusers—like really pissed. I was mad.

To my surprise, there were a few hours where I just could not stop listening (and I paid the price the next day at work!). I was too engrossed and wound up. That rarely happens for me.

Definitely worth a credit.

117 of 152 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • M
  • 09-13-19

Meh

Very, very predictable...
I didn’t hate it, but I was disappointed. I wouldn’t recommend it I don’t think. Maybe if someone was looking for an easy read.

61 of 81 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

eh!

Not much substance and it ended in such a way that was easy to guesstimate.

I liked the narrator more than the story.

32 of 43 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

I wanted to like but didnt

I have been reading King since I was 14 years old. Were talking 47 years. I really wanted to like this one but I just didn’t. It is hit or miss with him for the last 10+ years. I will always buy them. But they are not good anymore. Sad but true.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful