Suspicious Minds (Stranger Things #1)
A mysterious lab. A sinister scientist. A secret history. If you think you know the truth behind Eleven’s mother, prepare to have your mind turned Upside Down in this thrilling prequel to the hit show Stranger Things.It’s the summer of 1969, and the shock of conflict reverberates through the youth of America, both at home and abroad. As a student at a quiet college campus in the heartland of Indiana, Terry Ives couldn’t be further from the front lines of Vietnam or the incendiary protests in Washington.But the world is changing, and Terry isn’t content to watch from the sidelines. When word gets around about an important government experiment in the small town of Hawkins, she signs on as a test subject for the project, codenamed MKUltra. Unmarked vans, a remote lab deep in the woods, mind-altering substances administered by tightlipped researchers . . . and a mystery the young and restless Terry is determined to uncover.But behind the walls of Hawkins National Laboratory—and the piercing gaze of its director, Dr. Martin Brenner—lurks a conspiracy greater than she could have ever imagined. To face it, she’ll need the help of her fellow test subjects, including one so mysterious the world doesn’t know she exists—a young girl with unexplainable, superhuman powers and a number instead of a name: 008.Amid the rising tensions of the new decade, Terry Ives and Martin Brenner have begun a different kind of war—one where the human mind is the battlefield.

Suspicious Minds (Stranger Things #1) Details

TitleSuspicious Minds (Stranger Things #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 7th, 2019
PublisherCornerstone Digital
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Fiction, Young Adult, Horror

Suspicious Minds (Stranger Things #1) Review

  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    "What a beautiful little piece of evil."Suspicious Minds is a prequel to the Stranger Things show, and the story focuses on Eleven's mom, Terry Ives. It's set in the late '60s / early '70s in Indiana, and whether this is a Stranger Things book or not, I found it to be an easy story to get invested in. Terry and her friends are likeable characters, and the story is occurring amidst the Vietnam War and everything else that was going on - yet with a Stranger Things spin that makes it even more fun. "What a beautiful little piece of evil."Suspicious Minds is a prequel to the Stranger Things show, and the story focuses on Eleven's mom, Terry Ives. It's set in the late '60s / early '70s in Indiana, and whether this is a Stranger Things book or not, I found it to be an easy story to get invested in. Terry and her friends are likeable characters, and the story is occurring amidst the Vietnam War and everything else that was going on - yet with a Stranger Things spin that makes it even more fun. I wasn't entirely sure how I was going to feel about this book, but Gwenda Bond did such a fantastic job, and I would definitely read more in this series from her. This book stands on its own well enough apart from Stranger Things, but it's also an excellent companion piece for the series. It doesn't add any serious details that we didn't already know; it just dives into the MK Ultra backstory and shows the path leading to Eleven. It ties in the series so well without it feeling contrived. Dr Brenner is a disturbing character, and the Hawkins lab is a horrifying place. It's always an interesting experience to read a book when you already know how it ends. Terry has so much life and hope in the book, but we know what happens in the end from the show. It creates a very ominous environment, and I felt dread throughout so much of the book since I knew where it was heading.I think this book can work for both fans of Stranger Things and people who are new to the series. It's so entertaining, and I feel like it has a great balance of new story and series tie-in. Thank you so much to Random House for sending me a copy of Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds to review. I was very impressed with this introduction to the novel series, and I can't wait to read more!
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  • Out of the Bex
    January 1, 1970
    I can’t tell you this enough: Do not bother reading this book. Yes, that’s a hardcore heads up from one Stranger Things fan to another. It’s not what you hope it is. Not even a little bit.Full ranty review to come on Youtube later this week.If I were the sort of person to blatantly curse in my writing, this review would be riddled with four-letter words.Suspicious Minds is a disaster of a book.This is meant to be the backstory or Eleven’s mother during the MKULTRA experiments in 1969. I can prom I can’t tell you this enough: Do not bother reading this book. Yes, that’s a hardcore heads up from one Stranger Things fan to another. It’s not what you hope it is. Not even a little bit.Full ranty review to come on Youtube later this week.If I were the sort of person to blatantly curse in my writing, this review would be riddled with four-letter words.Suspicious Minds is a disaster of a book.This is meant to be the backstory or Eleven’s mother during the MKULTRA experiments in 1969. I can promise you, whatever history your own mind has imagined for this character is going to be more fulfilling, exciting, and well-developed than the entirety of this 300 page novel. Stick to your own theories on the Stranger Things universe. There is nothing at all new in this book. It adds nothing to the grander ST storyline. In fact, I think it actually manages to take something away.It is my opinion that the release of this novel is little more than a money-making scheme for the license holders. They know that fans will fall over themselves to get their hands on a copy. The fictional world and successful story within it already exist and an incredibly relevant, dedicated fanbase comes right along with it. It seems this book was made for the same reason as to why so many terrible movie sequels are made. It’s just guaranteed to make money. You can’t help but believe it will be good when you see it promoted because you already love the original work. You’re convinced it has to be even half as good as the content you fell in love with.Trust me. It’s not. I am absolutely shocked at the both the style and the writer they chose for this story. It seems they set out to please everyone, a tactic I’ve never known to go well. Have you? It simply doesn’t work. Who is this novel for? It’s written so simply that it’s almost an offense to my intellect. Were they aiming this at middle grade readers? Twenty-somethings? Or mature adults? The people on the panel for this project don’t seem to have made that decision and it shows. In an effort to be something for everyone, it became nothing for no one. I’m going to save the rest for a ranty youtube review and possibly a blog post because I have far too much to say. This was extremely difficult to get through and an incredible disappointment for me. I’m a huge stranger things fan. I hoped this novel would add to the incredible world the Duffer brothers created. It did the opposite. After I’m done with my full review, I will do my best to pretend it never happened.I should have just waited for season 3 of the show like a good, patient little nerd.
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  • Sarah Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    IT'S A STRANGER THINGS NOVEL AND WE HAVE A COVER(read the first chapter here! https://ew.com/books/2018/09/27/stran...)
  • Josh
    January 1, 1970
    I love the Stranger Things TV series and was very excited to see that the universe was being expanded to include a series of novels and comics with Suspicious Minds being the first official prequel novel published in February 2019.The themes that make the TV series so appealing are prevalent here though with a slightly skewed focus. Rather than a bunch of kids goofing around with Dungeons and Dragons, fighting monsters real and imagined, and having to contend with the horrors of the upside-down, I love the Stranger Things TV series and was very excited to see that the universe was being expanded to include a series of novels and comics with Suspicious Minds being the first official prequel novel published in February 2019.The themes that make the TV series so appealing are prevalent here though with a slightly skewed focus. Rather than a bunch of kids goofing around with Dungeons and Dragons, fighting monsters real and imagined, and having to contend with the horrors of the upside-down, Suspicious Minds takes the story back to the Hawkins Institute; a mysterious laboratory in which dangerous experiments are undertaken on the consenting and non-consenting alike for the betterment of evolution (trying to invoke superhuman abilities through unrealized potential). There are some nice cameos from characters I won't name to avoid spoilers but will say that this novel (set in the late 1960's and early 1970's) leads in nicely to the series proper while also providing plenty of wiggle room for more stories set prior to season 1. My rating: 4/5 stars. I like that fact the book has a different focus to the TV series while still being able to feel like a Stranger Things story (which, obliviously it is).
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Review from Tenacious Reader: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2019/0...Suspicious Minds was not quite what I expected, but it turned out to be a wonderful read that gave a great backstory on Eleven’s mom, and how Eleven came to be in Dr. Brennar’s care and more about the origins of Dr. Brennar’s crazy experiments and meddlings with the natural world. Pretty much it was full of lots of the things we’ve wondered about since the show started.Terry Ives is a college student in the 1960s and while the Review from Tenacious Reader: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2019/0...Suspicious Minds was not quite what I expected, but it turned out to be a wonderful read that gave a great backstory on Eleven’s mom, and how Eleven came to be in Dr. Brennar’s care and more about the origins of Dr. Brennar’s crazy experiments and meddlings with the natural world. Pretty much it was full of lots of the things we’ve wondered about since the show started.Terry Ives is a college student in the 1960s and while there is a lot of turmoil in the world at this time, she is somewhat sheltered in her college life, but she wants to feel like she is doing something more, something more meaningful. It’s this desire that gets her tangled up with Dr. Brennar, whose research project seems like an honor to participate in and “important” in some way to her. She basically signs on to be a human guinea pig for a study that she really knows nothing about.As the study progresses, Terry definitely starts to see signs that maybe everything is not quite as on the up and up as she first thought, and that there might just be cause for concern. I quite enjoyed Terry and her friends, and genuinely felt concern for her friends as they found themselves entangled in Dr. Brennar’s dark web.A couple of things about this book that were not quite what I expected. First, I think I expected a bit more of a horror vibe while reading that, which it’s not. It feels more like an urban fantasy. , or urban fantasy with a science fiction slant? Is that a thing? I also think that all gets a bit blurry with things like this. The creatures can make it very much feel more fantasy. The science behind how they get there will make it feel more science fiction. But it’s the style of the prose that makes reminds me most of urban fantasy. What there is not is a that really creepy, scary foreboding quality that makes a book horror. This is by no means a negative, just was different from what I expected.Overall, I found this to be a fun read that gave a great backstory for Eleven’s mom. If anything, I wish there was a bit more so I look forward to see what the next Stranger Things book brings!
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  • Spencer
    January 1, 1970
    This was disappointingly unexceptional, the pacing was slow, the characters lacked character and the plot felt drawn out and uninspired. I hate to be so negative about the book as I love the tv show but it isn’t a particularly good book and I fail to see why it has so many high ratings on goodreads.
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  • Holly (The Grimdragon)
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come!
  • R.J.
    January 1, 1970
    2018/08/09 - HOLY SHIT PLEASE LET THIS NOT BE YA I WANT A GRITTY NOVEL ABOUT HOW HORRIFYING MKULTRA LEGIT IS I AM SCREAMING THIS IS ONE OF THE CONSPIRACIES THAT'S TRUE THAT I'M OBSESSED WITH
  • Gillian
    January 1, 1970
    I AM SHOOKT ABOUT THIS.
  • Brittany (The Book Addict's Guide/Novelly Yours)
    January 1, 1970
    Marked as DNF 2/11/19: Admittedly, I didn't make it far with this but I was struggling right from the start. I just didn't feel like this translated well into a book at all. I'm not sure I've ever read an adaptation of a movie or TV show aside from the Clarissa Explains It all adult contemporary adaptation, which also felt clunky and awkward. The Stranger Things TV show just has something special that does so well in so few words. I love that so many things happen in scenes witnessed, stolen mom Marked as DNF 2/11/19: Admittedly, I didn't make it far with this but I was struggling right from the start. I just didn't feel like this translated well into a book at all. I'm not sure I've ever read an adaptation of a movie or TV show aside from the Clarissa Explains It all adult contemporary adaptation, which also felt clunky and awkward. The Stranger Things TV show just has something special that does so well in so few words. I love that so many things happen in scenes witnessed, stolen moments, little gestures, relationships between the characters... Truthfully, Terry's story wasn't one I was really interested in but I'm always up for prequels of my favorites. I just didn't feel captured by her story at all and unlike other prequels where you know what's coming but still can't look away, I more felt like we already know what happens to Terry and I just dind't have a connection with her at all. Maybe that's unfair considering we really CAN'T get to know her in the TV show, but it was a book about two characters that I didn't have an attachment to so I just couldn't get into it. I also didn't care about the time period. I have much more nostalgia for the 80s and 90s but the 60s and 70s don't particularly interest me so I wasn't pulled into the book through that either. When I decided to stop listening to the audiobook, I checked to see how much time I had left and it was still five hours. It seemed like a quick book but I was already actively not interested so I just decided to call it quits instead of forcing myself to push through it.
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  • Michael Cook
    January 1, 1970
    My biggest problem with Stranger Things is that there's too much pre-teen drama and not enough spooky stuff/weird government conspiracy stuff. I find myself far more interested in what's going on in Hawkins Lab than I am in what Dustin, Mike, Will, and Luke are up to. So, getting through the show is always a bit of an ordeal for me as I just want the weird, spooky stuff. So, when Suspicious Minds was announced as the first official Stranger Things tie-in novel, I was pretty excited. It sounded l My biggest problem with Stranger Things is that there's too much pre-teen drama and not enough spooky stuff/weird government conspiracy stuff. I find myself far more interested in what's going on in Hawkins Lab than I am in what Dustin, Mike, Will, and Luke are up to. So, getting through the show is always a bit of an ordeal for me as I just want the weird, spooky stuff. So, when Suspicious Minds was announced as the first official Stranger Things tie-in novel, I was pretty excited. It sounded like I'd finally be getting my wish. I'm happy to report that this novel is full of weird, creepy government stuff and I adored every page of it.First off, this novel is dark. I mean Stranger Things has always been a bit dark, but it always had that same kind of lightness that a lot of Speilberg films had, which lightened that darkness some. Suspicious Minds does not have that lightness. First off, it's focused on young adults - not children - so, it's immediately a bit more grown-up than much of the TV series is. Add to that the new information about just what went on during Project MKUltra - Acid trips, electro-shock tests, and the full story about what happened to Eleven's mother in this program - and you've got a story that might actually be a bit too dark for a family-friendly TV show to tackle. That being said, I love how dark this book is. Like I said earlier, I've always wanted Stranger Things to focus a bit more on the government conspiracy storyline and that's exactly what this novel does.Suspicious Minds is also surprisingly scary. Most of the scares in Stranger Things comes from the visual horror of the various monsters - and the Upside Down itself - so I wasn't sure how that horror would translate in a novel. Gwenda Bond was smart, however, in not trying to replicate that horror. There are some monsters and supernatural stuff in Suspicious Minds, sure, but most of the scares come from the horrific things people in power - like Dr. Brenner - are doing to other people. The real scares come from seeing just how far Brenner is willing to go with this project; how many lives he's willing to ruin, how many people he's willing to hurt. The experiences that Terry - and her friends - go through in this novel are where the true horror lies, and Gwenda Bond does an amazing job at exploring that horror.I don't wanna spoil much of what happens in the book, so I'm not going to go into much detail about the actual plot of the book. I will, however, talk some more about the characters and the writing. There are four main characters in this book: Terry Ives (mother of Eleven), Alice, Gloria, and Ken. All four of them are part of the MKUltra research and all four of them are subjected to some pretty awful stuff by Dr. Brenner. As hinted at in the show, Dr. Brenner is trying to research the powers of the human mind and what it can do while also researching superpowered people - like Kali (Eight) and, eventually, Eleven. The book is told, primarily, from Terry's point of view, though the point of view does occasionally shift to the other characters as needed. This works really well as it lets us get into Terry's head and really see her as a fully three-dimensional character. In fact, Gwenda Bond does a great job at making every character in this novel feel fully developed, even side characters such as Andrew - Terry's boyfriend - and her sister and her roommate. Like the show, the characters in this novel are some of the best parts.The pacing in Suspicious Minds is also really strong. Things get moving pretty quickly and once they've started, they don't stop. Each chapter is fairly lengthy - it's a 320-page book with only 12 chapters - so each chapter feels almost like a mini-episode in a season of a TV show. This format works really well as every time you finish a chapter, you really feel like you've moved ahead in the overall narrative of the story. Every chapter has a point and a natural ending but each chapter also works with the rest to tell a complete, satisfying story. Bond perfectly balances a good amount of description with the narrative drive of the story. There is never a moment where you feel like the energy has been killed because too much time has been spent describing something but there is also never a moment where you find yourself longing for more description; it's a really good balance. In general, Bond's writing in this novel is just superb. Each character sounds distinct, the pacing is superb, the prose is engaging as hell. It's just all around enjoyable.All in all, I think I like Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds more than I like the actual TV series. It is everything that I wish the TV series was. It's filled with lots of spooky government shenanigans, some truly horrific moments, and a bunch of characters that are fully formed and immediately relatable. Gwenda Bond's writing is superb, immediately drawing the reader into the world of the novel and keeping their attention as the story unfolds and more and more mysteries begin to unravel. The pacing is superb; once the story gets started, it never stops and you find yourself never wanting to set the book down. Overall, I just really adored this book. It's an absolute must-read for anyone who's a fan of Stranger Things and I'd honestly even recommend it to people who didn't love the show. If you like weird government conspiracies tied in with pseudo-history, you'll like this book. It's absolutely fabulous.
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    I had very low expectations for this book, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it an enjoyable read that was generally well-written. It took me a while to get used to Terry having a personality, since I was used to the catatonic version we see in the show. I was pleased with the personality she was given and the window into her life, and had mixed feelings about the mystery of Eleven's father (view spoiler)[being so easily and undramatically explained, though one thing I appreciate about ST i I had very low expectations for this book, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it an enjoyable read that was generally well-written. It took me a while to get used to Terry having a personality, since I was used to the catatonic version we see in the show. I was pleased with the personality she was given and the window into her life, and had mixed feelings about the mystery of Eleven's father (view spoiler)[being so easily and undramatically explained, though one thing I appreciate about ST is their ability to subvert expectations. (hide spoiler)] It also provided a neat explanation for why Terry was later so intent to tell Jane about Kali, because (view spoiler)[she encountered her in the lab during her days in MK Ultra. (hide spoiler)]There were a few inconsistencies from what we see in the show, such as Jane's birth year (should have been 1971, not 1970) and (view spoiler)[Jane's birth occurring "naturally" in the book, as opposed to the C-section we see in the show. (hide spoiler)] Another small detail that greatly bothered me was the fact that Terry's abilities (view spoiler)[are limited to communication in the void, with one small instance of a light flickering. After Jane is taken, her abilities disappear altogether. Yet when Jane sees her 12 years later, she suddenly has the ability not only to communicate in the void again, but to blink several lights and even change the TV channel telekinetically. Where did all this extra psionic power come from? Though honestly, this gripe is more with the show than with the book. (hide spoiler)]But the thing that bothered me most about the book is its portrayal of Brenner, which I believe to be entirely uncharacteristic of his persona portrayed in the show. Obviously both characters do terrible, evil things, but the Book Brenner does so coldly, authoritatively, unfeelingly, and selfishly. The Show Brenner approaches his tasks completely differently--using gentle, manipulative, emotional language and actions. Whether by calming Eleven and giving her a false sense of control, or wishing his fellow scientists luck and screaming to save him from the Upside Down, or empathizing with Karen, this is always his play. Lulling others into a false sense of security. This Brenner is almost completely absent from the book. I could see and hear the same Terry in the book, but Brenner was someone else.
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  • Teepa Prince
    January 1, 1970
    I'm going to be blunt with this, because I had such high expectations going into it, and felt so utterly let down by it that I am glad I marathon listened to it over three days. (Spoilers abound, you’ve been warned) This is a very wordy novel with not a lot to say. What was pitched to us as a peek into the backstory of Eleven's conception/birth and of what MKUltra experiments led to the catatonic Terry Ives we meet in Season 2 was more like the framework of an "original" work that was adjusted t I'm going to be blunt with this, because I had such high expectations going into it, and felt so utterly let down by it that I am glad I marathon listened to it over three days. (Spoilers abound, you’ve been warned) This is a very wordy novel with not a lot to say. What was pitched to us as a peek into the backstory of Eleven's conception/birth and of what MKUltra experiments led to the catatonic Terry Ives we meet in Season 2 was more like the framework of an "original" work that was adjusted to contain the Stranger Things universe. Our story begins with Brenner’s entrance to the Hawkins laboratory which has become an integral part of the ST lore. We get a small glimpse of his relationship with Kali in the form of him getting her set up and comfortable in her new home. We are also introduced to the cold, calculating Brenner that we know and love from the show. This will however rapidly change. Enter Terry Ives, a very average university student posing as her roommate to make a quick $15 ($100+ when adjusted for inflation) a week undergoing psychological testing on her college campus. She is obviously quickly found out, but inexplicably allowed to continue participating in the study. Enter also: A very stilted and awkward depiction of college students engaging in mild use of drugs and alcohol. Any time drug use is brought up within the story, we are given very ABC Afterschool Special descriptions and word usage, as well as depictions of behavior that push the limits of suspension of disbelief. Within the first chapters of the book we are berated with things to remind us that we are /IN/ the 60s. The moon landing, Nam, the draft lottery, Terry being treated with little respect for being a woman on her own, the draft lottery, the sheer absurdity of a woman of color being admitted to the Biology program at the university, the draft lottery. Have I mentioned the draft lottery? Because nearly every chance she gets, the author smears on foreshadowing that grows tired by the third time in a single chapter. In short order we are introduced to our main cast of characters, none of whom are really developed until the final act of the book. These characters are all participants in Brenner's studies, each displaying a talent which he manipulates via application of LSD treatments and acquisition/regurgitation of knowledge. From the beginning, only the accidentally admitted Terry has anything to show for it, though the others’ skills eventually emerge. Alice is used to fairly gracefully dip our toes into what we know to the the Upside Down, as well as introducing the Demogorgon and Demodogs. Not much is done with this knowledge, other than occasionally reminding us that it is there. Her real time to shine is when she can capitalize on her visions, and use them to the gain of the team.Gloria’s skills include the memorization and compartmentalization of facts (coordinates mostly), but while this is never used to further the plot, she is taught various “Superhero*” skills that do help. (*one of her defining traits is being a fan of comics, which is actually quite nice and used well)Ken never truly comes into his own until the final pages of the book. He is the only male in the experiments, and while we are told along the way that he is a psychic, he is more like a precog in that he “gets a feeling” regarding certain events or actions, whether already passed or future. This comes in handy multiple times, allowing him to ultimately bring Terry a shred of hope regarding her stolen baby girl. Outside of the laboratory testing we also get to know Terry’s boyfriend. Barely. There is a specific scene where Terry mentions that Andrew “turned out to have a personality” after all, but we as readers never get to see it. Andrew is mostly distilled into a grab bag of anti-Vietnam tropes. He spends a large quantity of time passively protesting the war, including an active protest that becomes the lynch-pin for his unceremonious disposal. He is also incapable of entering a scene without some combination of cracking a beer for himself and offering it to anyone else in the room. Brenner suffers the most in this story. Throughout most of the events of “Suspicious Minds” he does not act anything like the man we are introduced to in the opening pages. A man who commanded an entire room was suddenly transformed into a man who missed obvious misdirections, and truly had no control over the staff he was supposed to be in command of. There are constant plot holes forged when Brenner attempts to discipline a staff member by firing, which is never followed up on, and the author never takes even a second to explain how he’s keeping this people bound to their NDA’s. Desperate to reclaim the personality that the Duffers have conditioned me to, I chose to believe he executes them and writes them off as casualties of war. A man who was steely and kept you on your toes in the show was reduced to a fist-shaking Lex Luthor by the end of this novel. The final thing that feels completely mishandled and a bit story breaking is Terry’s pregnancy. We are not introduced to even an inkling that Terry might be pregnant until well into the second trimester. Even then, it is a one-off exchange between Brenner and an orderly following a blood draw done on Terry. Not once does anyone suspect anything may be “up” with her, nor does she experience symptoms for most of the book. Shortly before the “Big Reveal”, she begins to complain that none of her pants fit and she’s switched exclusively to skirts (Never commented on by other characters including her roommate). By the time the secret is blown wide open to Terry herself, no one around her believes she could have possibly been pregnant all along. All in all I wanted to like this novel. I was thrilled to receive something to expand the universe of ST. But I was let down so badly by what was essentially a YA Novel for grades 8-12. It didn’t fit the tone or the storytelling style of the source material, and felt like it was more foreshadowing than actual content. In closing, nobody skips Tom Bombadil unless they want to miss out on the experience of a wordy novel with a wordy point to make. I can only hope we go up from here.
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  • ☕ Kimberly
    January 1, 1970
    While fans of the series will appreciate getting the backstory to Eleven's mom, Terry Ives it isn't necessary to have watched the series to enjoy this. Bond offered an engaging tale set during the Vietnam War and the drafts. The story introduces to Bloomington college student Terry Ives, and her classmates Alice, Gloria and Ken. Each is a participant in Brenner's tests and those tests, and the lab lead to abilities, discovers and danger.If you love Stranger Things, you'll slip right in to this s While fans of the series will appreciate getting the backstory to Eleven's mom, Terry Ives it isn't necessary to have watched the series to enjoy this. Bond offered an engaging tale set during the Vietnam War and the drafts. The story introduces to Bloomington college student Terry Ives, and her classmates Alice, Gloria and Ken. Each is a participant in Brenner's tests and those tests, and the lab lead to abilities, discovers and danger.If you love Stranger Things, you'll slip right in to this storyline with its paranormal and urban fantasy vibe. The tests are trippy but a discovery of a young child with incredible abilities soon have Terry and her friends investigating what exactly is happening within the walls of the institute. Danger, men in suits and unthinkable twists and outcomes kept me listening into the wee hours. Everyone's gifts were unique but what happens to Terry will send chills down your spine.Suspicious Minds was a fantastic prequel, but it also left the door open for another book or two before Stranger Things. I hope that more are in the works. I would also love to see this brought to Netflix. *fingers-crossed*Kristen Sieh narrates, and it was my first experience with her. I thought she did a splendid job of delivering the tone and voices for the story and characters. I like when a character speaks and I immediately know by tone and mannerism who is speaking. Such was the case here. I would not hesitate to listen to Sieh again. I listened to the first chapter and normal speed, then bumped it up to 1.3X. This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Reviewer
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  • Queen
    January 1, 1970
    Love the show but this book is slow and uninteresting.
  • Sean
    January 1, 1970
    It’s a book about doctors appointments. Over and over again. If that’s compelling to you pick this up, but to everyone else, skip.
  • Kristin
    January 1, 1970
    Obligatory minor spoiler alert for both the book and showI don’t think it really needs to be said but just in case…I’m (obviously) a fan of Stranger Things (or I probably wouldn’t be here). So, I’m sorry to say: this book was a huge disappointment. It’s been a while since I read a book was relatively short (301 pages, not including the authors notes and blank pages at the end) but by some witchcraft managed to feel like a thousand pages. At around the 276ish mark, I couldn’t take it anymore and Obligatory minor spoiler alert for both the book and showI don’t think it really needs to be said but just in case…I’m (obviously) a fan of Stranger Things (or I probably wouldn’t be here). So, I’m sorry to say: this book was a huge disappointment. It’s been a while since I read a book was relatively short (301 pages, not including the authors notes and blank pages at the end) but by some witchcraft managed to feel like a thousand pages. At around the 276ish mark, I couldn’t take it anymore and ended up skimming the rest of the way through.Like many other fans, I read this to learn more about the mysterious origins of Jane (formally known as 011/Eleven). Well, I did, and after reading this (way too long) novel, I wish I hadn’t bothered. The theories my husband and I came up with and the ones I read online are more intriguing than this anticlimactic pile of disappointment.I seriously have to question the thought process of the people who sponsored this book. A book that is obviously supposed to be an adult book. Why out of the hundreds of authors who specialize in adult thrillers, mysteries, and paranormal genres (with many who probably love the show) …did they decide to hire an author who specializes in writing (and by that, I mean: only writes) young adult novels?Did they mix up the term adult with adolescent?No offense, this was written by someone who writes for children/teenager (and the young at heart) for a living. Meaning all the pitfalls of YA are all present here: the shallow simplistic writing and characters reduced to 2D stereotypes with little personality to speak of. It lacks all the depth and suspense that you get from the show…or from someone who writes novels that specifically target adults. In short, this was a very juvenile book for a topic that was supposed to be very deep and serious.Now before someone skins me alive, I’m not knocking the author on a personal level. I’m sure she writes just fine as a YA novelist but in the end that’s exactly what she is: a YA novelist. It felt like she was out of her depth writing a book that’s targeting an older and more mature age range than her usual audience (12-14-year old’s).The whole premise of the book was very disappointing, mostly because of the lackluster and tedious pacing only to get to an ending that’s about as believable and likely as the Russian government revealing its secrets. It didn’t help that the characters throughout the story were two-dimensional and completely lacked any depth. It takes almost 200 pages (out of 301) for things to actually move forward. The rest of the book details Terry’s life almost second by second, focusing on every minor detail that doesn’t matter while cutting out anything major that could develop into something symbolizing a plot or plot advancement. When the book isn’t spending 100 pages vaguely describing Terry’s everyday life the rest of it was ranting about Vietnam (which, while a major event, wasn’t the only thing going on at the time like the author seems to think).To put it bluntly, there’s a lot of telling (without actually managing to tell anything) and hardly any showing. For example, a scene where Brenner is (once again) spewing empty threats:“Terry couldn’t speak. Rage filled her.” (page 270)Not subtle signs like balled fists, clenched teeth, flushed cheeks/turning red…not we’re told “rage filled her” not shown. Which is basically how the entire book plays out. Never being “shown” but directly “told” things and emotions. Even their body language is large looked over, barely anyone displayed their emotions through their actions. They didn’t shift around, or play with their hair, or chew on their nails or do anything that a normal person would do, they just sat and talked. The stiffness and lack of body language reminds me of old NPCs (non-player characters) in video games who would stand rigid and barely blink when talking to your character. It takes the “submersion” out of the experience not having people acting like people.It also adds the aloof feeling I had towards characters that were already pretty empty to begin with. I never felt connected or concerned about these characters because they were little more than, well, characters on a page to me. I never felt their outrage, hurt, or happiness because I was told about it, not shown it.I was under the assumption that Terry Ives was very intelligent (which was confirmed by this book), however for someone so “intelligent” she sure is immature and lacks common sense. It takes her almost half the book to get a “gut feeling” that Dr. Brenner maybe bad and what feels like another 600 pages (but was honestly probably around 20-50) to realize he was bad and there’s more to the experiment than meets the eye (duh, it’s the government).The other characters in this book, unfortunately, didn’t help anything. They added almost nothing to the plot and were so paper thin it was hard to even consider them human. Their friendship magically and unrealistically develops overnight, insta-friends (also see the other YA stereotype: insta-love).All the characters had next to nothing in common (except the experiment) and yet somehow, magically got along like a house on fire. There was no conflict of personalities, despite them all being very different people, from different walks of life, who in normal circumstances, would never have even smiled at each other in the hallway. The writing is so…I don’t know how to describe it…superficial? That none of them develop or have any depth beyond whatever trope or stereotype they get stuck in at the beginning. Ken is the laid back “stoner” (basically, literally, looks like Jesus from both The Walking Dead and the bible. Complete with their hair and beard).Gloria is the exceptionally smart but is secretly nerdy (she loves comics, the scandal!). Alice is an ambiguous female mechanic.Andrew is the frat boy who’s in college to avoid being drafted into Vietnam, only he pulls two stupid stunts close together that he knew would almost guarantee to get him kicked out of college and put on the draft list. If he isn’t cracking open a beer for himself, he’s cracking one open to give to someone else. Towards the end he actually starts to develop, unlike the other characters, but unfortunately his role is so short so we’ll know for sure.And, well, that pretty much sums up all the characters. There’s nothing else to them, no flaws (Gloria doesn’t secretly bite her nails and Jesus Ken doesn’t nervously pull lose threads on his worn-out shirts), no strange habits (Alice doesn’t secretly obsessively collect cryptozoology stuff or anything interesting like that), no personalities, no depth, and no character develop of any sort. Literally no one gets angry, upset, disagrees, or displays any emotion other than an almost programmed cheerfulness and acceptance. Even scenes that are supposed to be serious or sad feel bland because of the superficial cardboard characters.Also, on the topic of characters, Dr. Brenner’s character was also a major disappointment. In the show he’s cold, calculating, detached, manipulative, and always, always in control. Basically, he was your garden variety psychopath.Except, he wasn’t. For someone who claimed to be “detached” he constantly let his emotions get in the way. He was frequently outsmarted by both 008/Kali and a bunch of college students tripping on LSD who literally used the same exact methods to snoop and get away (pull fire alarm and manage to somehow blend in with doctors in lab coats while wearing a hospital gown and walking right into high security areas or using Kali as a distraction knowing she’d get into trouble and then being shocked when she does get into trouble) TWICE and they never adjusted their security to combat this. They even made a fake plan to do this exact same thing and Brenner fell for it, for crying out loud.And even worse, he has zero control over his staff, they pretty much walk all over him and constantly question him. There’s no way the Brenner we know and love to hate from the show would allow any of this to occur.And then there’s Terry. Okay, somewhat of a spoiler, but how did she seriously not know she was pregnant? No, not everyone gets morning sickness but you’d have to be extremely oblivious (or pretty dense) to realize your regularly schedule visit from Aunt Flo wasn’t showing up on time. Terry constantly boasts about how “healthy” she is, then doesn’t question or worry when her period poofs and she just starts randomly spotting in place of a period. Really? Then she blames stress for it. While, yes extreme emotional and physical stress can cause you to spot it’s more likely to cause secondary amenorrhea…meaning your periods stop altogether. Which none of this even comes up until Brenner snoops through her purse and sees her pads. Terry’s constant swinging back and forth nearly gave me whiplash. One page she was determined to protect Kali and the next page she was running into the sunset and leaving the kid behind. She frequently proclaimed she would do anything to protect her friends or Kali, only to selfishly rush off on the next page and do her own thing. Then she would be completely shocked when Brenner once again used them as leverage with threats. Threats that were obviously empty because of how many times he used it to get Terry to do what he wanted without actually causing harm to anyone. The repetitiveness of it all just added to the tediousness of the story, the shock value wore off pretty fast when you realized by the tenth time he threatened them he wasn’t actually going to do anything except mouth off.Because the author is so into telling and not showing and focusing on details that don’t really matter, we’re never really given a clue as to how Terry feels during this time period, nothing changes except she feels more tired and emotional on occasion…until we’re told later that she’s been tired, hungry, and overly emotional. How does one overlook the fact their nipples are changing color, or their breasts suddenly look fuller, or you have more pimples than a teenage boy on prom night, or if you aren’t comatose you’re wishing you were comatose, or on the occasion you manage to maintain consciousness you find yourself day dreaming about the latest food item the belly demands it be fed in sacrifice?Moving on…As for the err…”plot”, what little there is, is (as I’ve said before probably multiple times) lackluster and tedious. I found myself rolling my eyes and grumbling a disappointed “oh…” more often than not. There’s nothing shocking, nothing vital, and nothing really that adds to the series. You can pretty much piece all of this together by yourself watching the show.Basically, the only thing you’ll probably pull from this is a smidgen more background on 008/Kali and finding out who Jane/011’s biological father is…which was disappointingly not as mysterious or strange as I‘d imagined it would be.The biggest issues I have with the plot (what little there was) was how unrealistic and convenient the entire ending was. This was by far the most disappointing part of the book.MAJOR BOOK SPOILERS IN BOLD TEXT, SKIP OVER IF YOU DON’T WANT IT RUINED!First of all, I’m completely baffled that this story is about a government program (that actually existed, project MKUltra). At the time it was a top-secret experiment and that doesn’t change in Stranger Things …and yet they allow their subjects to mingle and interact with each other. That seems like it would throw a pretty big wrench into their whole “mind control” plan, allowing their subjects to interact and exchange stories that could bias or influence the whole experiment. Not to mention, it’s supposed to be top-secret. Why would they be allowed to know each other and talk about it so freely?I also don't understand how easily a bunch of kids tricked scientists (most of which have probably been working on this project since it was began in 1953) into believing that they were high while not really taking the drug. They seriously didn't notice their pupils weren't dilating or anything? I'm also deeply impressed how "in control" of themselves the characters were while on Acid/LSD they managed to walk around, find their way around a maze, and coherently talk and work together while high. None of them developed a dependency to LSD despite how often they were forced to take it and never displayed common symptoms (these are easy enough to Google, which is what I did since I have no experience with illegal substance myself (yes, I'm a boring person)) of either withdraw or of actually being high. A quick Google search informed that people on LSD/Acid often lose track of time, hallucinate (hear colors and see music), and can't control their perception of speed. So how did they waltz around and conspire and activate plans in tandem...while completely sh!tfaced?Another thing that baffled me was the lack of security. There were cameras everywhere in that facility and yet any of them could just wonder out of their room, wearing their hospital gowns, and cha-cha right into sections of the lab even the President probably has no idea existed…with no one stopping them or noticing. Um…And then the ending when they plan their great escape from the lab. Ken, driving Terry’s hunk of junk car, busts through not one but two military checkpoints and isn’t shot at, because he’s a “civilian”. A civilian who is a potential threat to a top-secret military instillation during Vietnam and the Cold War. They’ll shoot you for break onto a military base today, civilian or not, there’s no way Ken would just waltz through a bunch of highly trained military personnel without getting a few holes added to his car or himself. The whole thing was ridiculous. Then Terry pulls a knife out of her pocket, a kitchen knife that is (after carrying a camera in, which is automatic jail time as Kristian Saucier (enlisted Navy sailor) and Zhao Qianli (Chinese national/civilian) learned), and threatens Brenner with it. At this point I face palmed so hard I almost knocked myself out. Again, this is a top-secret lab, doing top-secret experiments during Vietnam and the Cold War. And they seriously never checked anyone for any bugs or potential spying devices?REALLY? You seriously expect me to swallow that way too convenient load of garbage?If you’ve seen the show then you know what happens to Terry eventually, unfortunately the book drags its feet so much it basically cuts off right after Terry gives birth. I seriously thought a large part of this book was going to be more detail about her fight against the government for her daughter (legally presumed stillborn) and what led to her catatonic state. Which I personally feel is where the real story is, not what was covered in this book.I’m very disappointed that this section of Terry's life was turned into a novel when it could easily have been summarized in flashbacks or been a short story…that little actually happens here. This seriously didn’t need to be a 301-page novel. I would rather have read Brenner’s lab reports, they probably would have provided way more information than what we’re given here.Again, I’m not knocking the author completely I’m sure she’s very passionate about her work and a good author for the YA audiences she usually targets…but she was the wrong choice for this story and was given the task or choose to focus on the wrong section of Terry’s life.
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  • The Curious Toast
    January 1, 1970
    Here's a quick review of this book.If you're thinking of buying a copy, read this first :)https://thecurioustoast.wordpress.com...
  • Unseen Library
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond from Penguin Random House Australia to review.From acclaimed young adult fiction author Gwenda Bond comes this first official tie-in novel to the television sensation, Stranger Things.It is 1969, and while America languishes in the midst of the Vietnam War, shadowy events with long-term implications are starting to take place in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. The enigmatic Dr Martin Brenner has arrived at the Hawkins Nati I received a copy of Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond from Penguin Random House Australia to review.From acclaimed young adult fiction author Gwenda Bond comes this first official tie-in novel to the television sensation, Stranger Things.It is 1969, and while America languishes in the midst of the Vietnam War, shadowy events with long-term implications are starting to take place in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. The enigmatic Dr Martin Brenner has arrived at the Hawkins National Laboratory to start conducting a series of experiments as part of the CIA’s secretive MKUltra program. Arriving with him is the doctor’s most gifted test subject, a young girl simply known by the number Eight, who can create illusions with her mind.In a nearby college campus in Bloomington a young student, Terry Ives, signs up as a test subject for a government experiment at her university. When she meets Dr Brenner her determination and curiosity impresses him enough to include her in his new experiment. Travelling to and from the Hawkins National Laboratory in an unmarked van, Terry meets her fellow participants in the experiment, Alice, Gloria and Ken. Each of the participants has a unique set of skills or abilities, which Brenner hopes to draw out through administration of psychedelic drugs and other invasive techniques.As the months pass and the experiments become harsher and even more unethical, Terry attempts to find out more about who Dr Brenner really is and what the objective of his experiments are. When Terry discovers Eight, she begins to question everything that Dr Brenner has done. With their academic and personal lives deeply tied to the experiment, Terry and her fellow test subjects must find a way to leave the program. But Dr Brenner is determined to keep each of them involved in his project, and he will do whatever he can to not only trap each of them, including doing the unthinkable to Terry.To see the full review, check out the link below:https://unseenlibrary.com/2019/02/04/...Or visit my blog at:https://unseenlibrary.com/
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    I love Stranger Things ; therefore, I'm more than happy to read anything about it. I enjoyed reading more about Terry Ives, Eleven's mother.Spoiler Alert ? Although it was a fun read, the book didn't offer much new information-- just gave background to characters we already knew. I wonder if Terry's co-subjects will appear in season 3. Where are they now? They seemed important to Brenner's mission. Ken's character did not seem completely relevant to the plot, so I wonder why he wasn't cut from t I love Stranger Things ; therefore, I'm more than happy to read anything about it. I enjoyed reading more about Terry Ives, Eleven's mother.Spoiler Alert ? Although it was a fun read, the book didn't offer much new information-- just gave background to characters we already knew. I wonder if Terry's co-subjects will appear in season 3. Where are they now? They seemed important to Brenner's mission. Ken's character did not seem completely relevant to the plot, so I wonder why he wasn't cut from the story. I thought he was a plant, but that theory didn't work out. Fans of the show have suspected that Chief Jim Hopper has a history with the lab. Bond provides two places in the book for this potential to happen: once with the fired lab employee and again when Brenner addresses the Langley guest as "Jim"-- back story or red herring?
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  • Alice Dragon
    January 1, 1970
    I like the show (S1 a lot, S2 somewhat) and so I was excited to read this. But it had a lot of the same problems as Season 2 did (poorly thought out storylines, a lack of threat from the human villains). Terry was... well, kind of bland. Andrew was as well. He seemed sweet, but he didn't really do a whole lot. The other test subjects, save for Ken, were kind of dull overall. Their friendship was rushed, and the premise was hard to believe. That the government let them go home at the end of every I like the show (S1 a lot, S2 somewhat) and so I was excited to read this. But it had a lot of the same problems as Season 2 did (poorly thought out storylines, a lack of threat from the human villains). Terry was... well, kind of bland. Andrew was as well. He seemed sweet, but he didn't really do a whole lot. The other test subjects, save for Ken, were kind of dull overall. Their friendship was rushed, and the premise was hard to believe. That the government let them go home at the end of every day seemed weird and silly to me, and toned down the threat posed to them quite a bit. Brenner's POV was sort of interesting. He's your garden variety sociopath, but at least we learned something about the experiments. On the other hand, for someone so 'brilliant', he seemed way too easy to fool. Other than that, not a big fan. It's not even all that relevant to the main story; it doesn't tell you a whole lot you don't know.
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  • Chris Wermeskerch
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a lot of fun. Provides some desperately needed on- and off-page diversity to the ST story telling team (as Jody Houser's comic series already did). The story is well-written and engaging, despite knowing where Terry and Jane will end up thanks to the TV series. Bond adds a subplot to heighten the drama and let this novel have a story with an ending for the novel, a great idea that a lot of tie-in authors don't consider.
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  • Pamela
    January 1, 1970
    You don’t have to watch the TV show, Stranger Things, to enjoy this novel. Yes, there are a few references to the show with Eight (Kali) and Eleven, even the Upside Down and the monsters, but even those who have never seen the series can pick this up to read. The novel has a great mix of paranormal, late 60s/early 70s counter-culture history, government conspiracy, science fiction, and horror, to have something for everyone. Read the rest of the review at http://www.ismellsheep.com/2019/02/bo... You don’t have to watch the TV show, Stranger Things, to enjoy this novel. Yes, there are a few references to the show with Eight (Kali) and Eleven, even the Upside Down and the monsters, but even those who have never seen the series can pick this up to read. The novel has a great mix of paranormal, late 60s/early 70s counter-culture history, government conspiracy, science fiction, and horror, to have something for everyone. Read the rest of the review at http://www.ismellsheep.com/2019/02/bo....
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  • Annie
    January 1, 1970
    3,5 SterneDa habe ich mehr erwartet. Ist Geschichte ist zwar nett, aber völlig vorhersehbar und wirkt ein bisschen abgedroschen. Das Ende ist ziemlich lieblos dahin geklatscht und man fragt sich wie es mit dem, was man über Elfs Mutter aus der Serie weiß, zusammengehen soll. Denn (Vorsicht Spoiler!) den Zustand der Mutter erklärt das nicht.Ich hoffe allerdings, dass die Gefährten des Labors vielleicht irgendwo in der Serie nochmal auftauchen. Über die möchte ich nämlich gerne mehr wissen!
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this escapism. Not too scary (not as scary as the show imo) and you can definitely tell it's written near the #metoo movement, even though it's set in 1970. I didn't even realize until about 1/3 of the way in that almost all the main characters are female. Definitely passed the Bechdel test. If there are more I'd read them.
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  • Renee M. P. T. Kray
    January 1, 1970
    What an absolutely incredible book. Not only is this a great addition to the ST universe, it's also a novel that stands entirely on its own merits. We get to follow Terry Ives (El's mom) as she gets involved with the MKUltra experiment that we hear about in the show. The main force behind that experiment is Dr. Martin Brenner, and he is just as creepy on the page as he was on the screen. Terry was an awesome character, as were Kali, Andrew, Gloria, and Alice. Ken I still don't understand. He see What an absolutely incredible book. Not only is this a great addition to the ST universe, it's also a novel that stands entirely on its own merits. We get to follow Terry Ives (El's mom) as she gets involved with the MKUltra experiment that we hear about in the show. The main force behind that experiment is Dr. Martin Brenner, and he is just as creepy on the page as he was on the screen. Terry was an awesome character, as were Kali, Andrew, Gloria, and Alice. Ken I still don't understand. He seemed dull and pretty much pointless in comparison to the others, but that's really my only complaint. If you are a fan of the show, this will not leave you disappointed. If you just want a good YA book to read, this will also not leave you disappointed. Highly recommend!
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  • Jay Gabler
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Random House for the free book. The first official “Stranger Things” novel, “Suspicious Minds” tells Eleven’s origin story as her college-aged mother signs up for a psychology study that’s definitely not worth the course credit. Not as much fun as the show, but overall a satisfying Nixon-era prequel. ‪Thank you Random House for the free book. The first official “Stranger Things” novel, “Suspicious Minds” tells Eleven’s origin story as her college-aged mother signs up for a psychology study that’s definitely not worth the course credit. Not as much fun as the show, but overall a satisfying Nixon-era prequel.
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  • Christy
    January 1, 1970
    Well I finished this in a day. RTC!
  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    ***As per all of my reviews, I like to preface by saying that I listened to this book in audiobook format. This does indeed slightly skew my rating. I have found that audiobooks, give me a better "relationship" with the characters if done well, but also kills the book for me if narrated poorly. Also due to the nature of listening to the text, names and places may be spelled incorrectly here as I often do not have the physical volume in front of me. Also, I have written this review in a "rolling ***As per all of my reviews, I like to preface by saying that I listened to this book in audiobook format. This does indeed slightly skew my rating. I have found that audiobooks, give me a better "relationship" with the characters if done well, but also kills the book for me if narrated poorly. Also due to the nature of listening to the text, names and places may be spelled incorrectly here as I often do not have the physical volume in front of me. Also, I have written this review in a "rolling updates" style. In that I basically chronicle my reading as I progress. This may make for a jarring and spoilery review so be warned.***Normally, when I see books that are based on TV shows, like this, I normally will put in the category of cash grab, and not really 'canon' or needed for the plot.Many turning out to be some lame adventure that will never get referenced ever again, and or has no bearing on the story...and hey, this could very much be the same. But as I thought about the backstory of our main character "eleven" and her mother and how the two were separated and what went on, I became more interested in actually finding out a bit more. I need to do a re-watch of the show honestly, but the TV series has a very heavy basis in testing on human beings, specifically in the 1960s. And as someone who finds things like the MK Ultra program and the Manchurian candidate, wildly fascinating, after my 3rd time seeing this book in the store, I finally picked it up and was very delighted in seeing that it was indeed a story just what went on and how we get to the point of where Stranger Things begins. The story starts off with the cliche summer of love 1969, and the author really leans in heavy with it...throwing every bit of 1969-ness in our faces. It doesn't bother me, but it's like a firing range of how many pop culture references we can get smacked with. We meet 4 teenagers who all seem like well intentioned college kids, experiencing love, woodstock, good music and enjoying youth. One of the girls had signed up for what she thought was a mundane pscyh experiment on campus and ends up being given something that causes her a pretty horrible experience. Literally it sounds like she was drugged and can't remember what happened after it. She shrugs if off with surprising ease. Of course money being money and broke college kids being broke, the other girl Terry Ives (a name that should be familiar to those who watch the show) sees this as an opportunity to perhaps make some extra cash and perhaps be part of something important. Now right here...if Stacey was any sort of friend to Terry you think she would warn he about something like, oh I don't know, drugging and raping women? I know this is the 60's here, but c'mon times are not *that* innocent...Anyway what happens is that we're taken down a series of events. Terry goes to the testing site off campus and meets up with a few other inductee's... Gloria a black girl who seems to be into Xmen comics, a guy Ken, who is a self proclaimed psychic, and Alice, a scruffy, tomboy who has some weird fascination with elevators. (Oh so you rolled on the random character traits table as well)The tests are given by Doctors, but over seen by Dr. Martin Brenner. The very David Lynch looking 'emperor' we see in the first two seasons. Even at this point he's still running the show. Eventually after subjecting the group to a multitude of tests, that are more benign, they move them to Hawkins Lab in Indiania. The tests ramp up as they begin testing her with psychedelics and hallucinogens. We get our first real view of just what can be done here during one such experiment Brenner asks Terry about a very painful experience she remembers. She brings up the death and more importantly the funeral for her parents. While she's drugged she's also put into a very hypnotic state and is told to "remove" the emotion from this memory. Upon coming out of the trip, she's asked if she recalls her parents funeral, and it doesn't seem to affect her, she feels lighter about it...Interesting..We're also introduced to one of the characters that is in Season two. This is where the scope of the show expanded greatly and we see that Eleven, was not the only subject. (If you couldn't have guessed from her name being "eleven".) We see Eight, as a very young girl. Given that she's probably late teens early twenties, makes sense that she's probably around 6 or so. Anyway she's under the care of Martin Brenner she has seemingly a lot of time with Eight or Kalli as her real name is. This really reminds me of the great movie Akira, features a "playschool" of 3 kids all numbered by name, and are sort of experimented on but watched over by the military colonel, Shikishima. While I wasn't a fan of the episode that sort of reveled the other 'numbers' in Stranger Things, I like the idea that it did show and explain the other subjects.Terry and her group is going more often to the testing, and it's almost becoming routine and 'normal'. The LSD dosages and even newer testing such as sensory deprivation tanks are brought in. Enjoying how much she's almost 'enjoying' it. Sort of like dependency almost. Interesting, we see that Terry wanders off during one of her sessions and enters the room where Kali is. Now this is interesting because in the show, we see Terry enter the room with Kali and another girl, but this means that this is not the first time they saw each other. So in 1969, Terry wasn't pregnant yet, Kali was probably around 6. So in 1983 or there abouts Kali would have been roughly around 19 or 20, which tracks with season 2. Thus when Terry's daughter is born, assuming she's pregnant soon, Eleven will be literally around 11 or 12 in 83…As we move on, all four patients are beginning to suspect that (finally) something is amiss. After Terry finds Kali, decides to 'stage' her hypnosis, is able to lucidly recall and think about what Brenner is asking of her. He, thinking she's under hypnosis, tell her to put a tap in Gloria's phone at their place of business. (A florist shop I believe….which is odd considering their last name is Flowers….)The group stages a big event to distract the doctors at the lab while Terry sneaks off and breaks into Brenner's lab. Here she uncovers multiple files on numbered test subjects, all kids, and of course the infamous references to MKULTRA. They actually get away with it…we can see Brenner knows that something is up, but not able to put the pieces together. I like this as well. It's so easy just to make villains like this to be super, all knowing characters who have this omnipresent knowledge and clued in about everything. But we see Brenner here is still just a man. Kali of course being a kid completely ruins the secrecy of Terry's visit, tipping Brenner off further. There's quite a bit of in timeline political events taking place, namely the student protests of the war during Nixon's televised speech. Lots of other interesting bits… This is obviously smack dab in the middle of the war, so the draft lottery comes up. And hey, who said you can't learning something in a Strangers Things book about history, I had no idea that that draft lottery was a televised event…interesting. Either way, Brenner finds out the relationship between Terry and her boyfriend Andrew…. He obviously can't have this and arranges the draft numbers to be chosen so that he's literally the first one off the bat to be called up. (numbers corresponding to birthdays) Lots of scenes that depict the group mentally reaching out to Kali. And a big shout out to the narrator… the very subtle accent that she gives Kali is a nice touch. Terry and her friend and fellow lab subject Alice, make contact with the little girl during their trips. What's odd is that they have to drug up, then apply electro shock to themselves to be able to contact her and vice versa. Kali has the ability to create mental illusions, as seen in the Season 2 episode. So this play into the story here as well. Also, something I was wondering on, Alice who reaches out during one of their trips, see's a vision of the future (the 80's during the time of subject 11 who is Terry's own daughter). It's a great scene here in that Alice is viewing Terry's own daughter being tested on. Which is unknown if she even knows who it is at this point. As Kali and Terry meet, they correspond in an all black environment, which is pretty much what we seen in the show, when Eleven goes in and 'meets' her mother. One other bit of thing to mention is that the love story between Terry and Andrew could easily be very cringy, very annoying and very cheesy. But it's not. I'm not quite sure why it works for me, but I actually enjoy the scenes of them together. I'd even say it's a bit tragic knowing he's going to be drafted off, and as the days tick down, the author reminds you that it's getting closer. I will say this, I still find it just bizarre how at ease everyone is about the testing. I mean at this point, they are indeed trying to gather evidence against the lab, and obviously they figure running to the police without any proof of anything would be futile, but could have been shown that they are far more worried about that they were involved in, personal safety wise. That being said I like how they're all sort of coming together to try to formulate some go to action plan. The male member of the group, Ken, who turns out to be homosexual and psychic which I felt was a bit playing into so many tropes but doesn't seem to factor in. My problem would be if they included this just for the sake of drama and adding tension . The idea of being homosexual in the 50's and 60's is a great idea and what repercussions it has but it's used so much as a source of drama.Either way we see Kali becoming more and more resistant to Dr Brenner, and yet she's still so eager to please him. So perhaps we see her actually betray Terry and the group? I'm thinking this because she's only 5 here…and clearly she still have many years left until she does leave Brenner's care… so clearly he wouldn't have 'kept her around' if she were to openly betray him. Reaching the final chapters of the book here, and we get some pretty brutal news for Terry…She finds out she's pregnant… 7 months in, Brenner has known about it and may possibly have designs for the baby, her boyfriend who's been sent to Vietnam, has been confirmed that he's been killed, and she's locked into a 'contract' with Brenner for um…life? And oh yes… college finals. Jokes aside the news of Andrew's death, while it's something that she's written to try to sweep under the rug and just get through her tests, it seems like she should have been far more broken up. At this point she's carrying a child from someone who will never get to raise it. (speaking of which, this reveals that Eleven's real name is indeed Jane.) So far we haven't had any moment of her actually showing raw emotion about this. The book wraps up nicely, with Terry and her friends finally getting out one last 'escape plan'. The manage to slip from Brenners fingers and leverage the exposing of Alice's "Death" to the public. They'll keep this from public knowledge as long as Brenner leaves them alone. Now… they fake the death of Alice, which is a good method to get out immediately, but the Hawkins lab has no body once they leave..So I have no idea how the plan of blackmail works once Brenner sees that Alice's body isn't there. In any event a few weeks later, Terry gives birth to Elev- err Jane. And we see the scene in that we see in the second season about her giving birth to her and Brenner suddenly there, separating mother and child. We even get some nice scenes of Terry's sister Becky who we also are introduced to in the show. So all in all, some nice ties into the TV series, but my only complaint here is that timing is still a bit off…Terry and her friends are in college when all of this goes down. So she roughly around 21-22 in 1970. But we see her try to rescue her daughter Jane from the clinic lab, she looks to be in her 40's. But that rescue attempt should have taken place very soon after the baby was taken. Her waiting years and years to try that seems odd. I think the mistake here was to say that this event took place when she was in college. In the show she's far too old to have been in college. The flashback scene in Episode 5 shows Terry who is atleast in her early 30's when she gives birth. So this doesn't really line up with the book. In the novel here, her and he friends are all played to be much younger. Anyway nit picking aside, this is actually a fun read. It's pretty light and not a hard read at all, it honestly sort of flew by. I was hoping we'd get a bit more characterization of Martin Brenner though. I like that he still has this mystique about him, but he did seem a bit one note after a time. Giving him a backstory or maybe a glimpse into his home life would have been interesting. All we get is "work Brenner". I like the dynamic of the friends and felt it was used effectively, and sort of hits tragic when you see her in the show, and it's only her sister that's now taking care of her…implying that after all these years, her friends have probably moved on. This book isn't a necessary read, but it adds a good amount to the fleshing out of Terry Ives, and I honestly can sort of easily place this into her story. Aside from the age/time issue, it seems to fit in pretty naturally.
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  • Erica
    January 1, 1970
    Omg I loved this book!!!! Any fan of Stranger Things needs to read this book!!!! Top shelf story telling with incredible characters. 11 stars for this awesome prequel
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