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The Institute

A Novel
Written by: Stephen King
Narrated by: Santino Fontana
Length: 18 hrs and 59 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (678 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

What the critics say

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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A modern classic

Not a scary book. But a thrilling, entertaining and emotionally resonant sci-fi/mystery. One of Stephen King's best. An imaginative and surprising narrative with memorable characters. And Santino Fontana's vocal performance is pitch perfect.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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another awesome Stephen King adventure

was really happy with this book I didn't allow myself to read to much about it going in as I knew I wouldn't be dissipointed with anything published by Mr King. this book grabbed my attention from the opening chapter and didn't let go even at the end. I didn't want it to end! don't want to say anything so I don't spoil any future buyers reading or listening experience. all I can say is it's awesome and well worth it!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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so good

I couldn't stop listening !! it was so hard to turn off and go to bed!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great read

This was a captivating story with the expected depth and character development from King. He builds up to moments that are both truly shocking and satisfying. It was read so well. Recommend to anyone who likes King or simply into thrillers especially with a paranormal edge.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great book, good narration

I love Stephen King books and this was another great one. I thought it was almost done somewhere around the middle, but there was a lot more story. Narration was great, he did use different voices for characters but it wasn't over the top.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Love Stephen King - Santino an interesting choice

I enjoyed this book thoroughly, as with all of Kings work. I love Santino Fontana - he voices my favourite book ‘You’. Initially I did find his choice of narration slightly distracting as he chose to read the Third person narrative in the voice of the character and it got a little confusing at some points early on, I did get used to it though.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Terrible performance, decent story

The story was fine. Fontana's reading was brutal. Read the book and give the audio version a miss.

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First Stephen King Listen

I couldn't stop listening! Spent a week travelling in Portugal with ear buds in and listening to this! Loved it from start to finish.

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wondering

loved the book was read great by the navigator. must listen to this book. great

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Not quite a return to form for SK

Stephen King has been part of my life for so long that it feels like a betrayal not to shower praise on every new novel but it is hard to love The Institute. When King is on his game it is absolute magic and you find yourself willing to follow him anywhere in an unquestioning way. I use to stop whatever I was reading to read the latest SK book - in reading The Institute I took 2 breaks to read other novels. The lead story of The Night Knocker was actually I thought the most compelling part of the novel.

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  • Jackie Terry
  • 2019-10-01

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.

24 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Wendi
  • 2019-09-21

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

131 of 148 people found this review helpful

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  • Charles Elmore
  • 2019-09-16

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.

113 of 129 people found this review helpful

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  • Christa C.
  • 2019-10-03

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 ?

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • DT
  • 2019-09-19

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.

57 of 69 people found this review helpful

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  • ftroche
  • 2019-09-23

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.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • MK
  • 2019-09-12

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.

115 of 149 people found this review helpful

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  • M
  • 2019-09-13

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.

59 of 79 people found this review helpful

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  • D. Graham
  • 2019-09-14

eh!

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

I liked the narrator more than the story.

30 of 40 people found this review helpful

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  • lmtrevin
  • 2019-09-29

Disappointed

I blindly purchase anything Stephen King releases, because I expect to love everything he writes. I did not love this book. I was intrigued all through the start of the book and the Nightknocker introduction. But I was lost when the story turned to the kidnapped children. It was dreadfully dull, and I didn't care what happened next. It seemed very disconnected.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful