Suspicious Minds is the first in a series of official Stranger Things novels inspired by what I consider to be one of my all time favourite television series. It is not often I am drawn to TV tie-in novels, but given my obsession for this show in particular and with the third season streaming from 4th July I thought I would pick this up to get me in the Stranger Things mood!
Set in the 1980’s, one of the key characters in the series is Eleven, a young girl with telekinetic powers who escapes the confines of Hawkins National Laboratory at a time when there are sinister goings on in the town concerning the disappearance of a young boy. Suspicious Minds is a prequel novel, with events taking place in the summer of 1969. Here we meet Terry Ives as she signs up to be a test subject as part of an important government experiment. However, the true extent of the activity taking place within the laboratory walls is yet to be revealed, as more and more suspicion begins to surround the lab’s director, Dr Martin Brenner. Fans of the series will recognise several of the characters along the way, as in addition to Terry and her sister we are introduced to a little girl with special powers, and the doctor who keeps her under his control as he awaits the arrival of another child, one who he suspects will represent some of his finest work…
As a big fan of the show and being familiar with the characters this was a book that I was able to get into really quickly as I became invested in the lives of these characters and the journeys they follow prior to the events of the TV series. In terms of writing style I found this book generally entertaining and easy to read. My interest was piqued early on and I was excited to uncover little details about Terry’s life prior to ending up in the lab. I wouldn’t say there are any particularly dramatic reveals or anything particularly different from what we can gather from the series, but there is a sense of foreboding, as we get a glimpse into the dark conspiracy surrounding Brenner’s work, along with his attitudes towards his test subjects. It also explores the bond between Terry and her boyfriend, and the relationships between her fellow test subjects, who she relies upon to help her get to the truth about why they really came to be in this lab, and what the future has in store for them.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a Stranger Things novel, and whilst I felt there could have been more to this story as a big Stranger Things fan I found it to be an enjoyable read. I am interested in reading further novels in this series, with the second book, Darkness On The Edge Of Town, focusing on one of my favourite characters from the show, Chief Hopper.