Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond

It's almost time for the return of Stranger Things! I couldn't be more excited. In fact, I'm planning to binge the first two seasons again to refresh my memory before July 4. And you can forget any Independence Day celebrations, it's going to be all Stranger Things chez moi!

If you're like me and you just can't get enough of this show, then you probably know that the amazing Gwenda Bond penned the first tie-in novel that released earlier this year. If you haven't read it yet, now is the perfect time!

It's 1969, Vietnam is in full gear but so far Terry Ives is only marginally affected. A college student in Indiana, she's more focused on how to make ends meet. Which is why she jumps at the opportunity to take part in an experiment that pays participants per session. 

But as innocent as the experiment seems at first, Terry soon realizes that there's something very wrong. There's a definite layer of secrecy she didn't expect surrounding the whole thing. If it was just that, she could probably shrug things off. But she isn't entirely sure she should trust Dr. Martin Brenner, the man running things. And when she discovers a kid hidden away behind the walls of Hawkins National Laboratory, her suspicions take a very dark turn. Things are further complicated when Terry realizes she's pregnant, something she's certain she should hide from Brenner as long as possible. 

This is Eleven's mom's story and it's fabulous!

First, we see the beginnings of the experiment and how Terry became involved in the first place. Meeting her and getting to know her, finally, makes her story in the show that much darker! We see her experiences first hand. We get her side of the story. And that makes what happens to her that much more emotional watching Eleven find her the second time around.

Second, we see even more of how underhanded and slimy Brenner is. Oh, man. It doesn't seem as though this guy was ever anything but bad. Again, reading this and then rewatching means you're even more aware of that fact.

And third, we meet Kali as a child! Kali, who made her appearance in season 2, deepens the story even further. And it makes me wonder if we'll see any other participants in the experiment as well.

All of this is a fun bonus for any fan of the series, more layers of the story that add to world we love and want more of. I especially appreciated the continued attention to cultural and pop culture details of the time (the characters are reading this great new book, Lord of the Rings!), which base the story so strongly in "reality."

There are two more tie-in novels this year, Darkness at the Edge of Town, which is Hooper's story, and Runaway Max, about - you guessed it - Max's past. Both titles are out now for anyone else looking to tide themselves over for the next couple of weeks.

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