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Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds

The First Official Stranger Things Novel
Narrated by: Kristen Sieh
Series: Stranger Things, Book 1
Length: 8 hrs and 56 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (177 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller

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 farther 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, code-named MKULTRA. Unmarked vans, a remote lab deep in the woods, mind-altering substances administered by tight-lipped 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 Terry 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. 

Praise for Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds

“You’re left hungry for more, but in the best way possible, as the book manages the balancing act between interconnected prequel and stand-alone story.” (Cinelinx)

Suspicious Minds is the prequel story that fans have been waiting for.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Highly recommended for those readers interested in expanding their knowledge of the Stranger Things' universe, this book is also a dark and captivating story that will stick in the readers’ minds even if they are not fans of the franchise.” (The Unseen Library)

©2019 Gwenda Bond (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“You’re left hungry for more, but in the best way possible, as the book manages the balancing act between interconnected prequel and standalone story.” (Cinelinx)

Suspicious Minds is the prequel story that fans have been waiting for.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Highly recommended for those readers interested in expanding their knowledge of the Stranger Things’ universe, this book is also a dark and captivating story that will stick in the readers’ minds even if they are not fans of the franchise.” (The Unseen Library)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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

Good Storyline, Poor Performance

Pros:
Actually one pro. Overall, this story is a necessary one for any fan of Stranger Things. The backgrounds of different key characters provides a full-circle tie-in with the Netflix series. Many questions were answered, and I didn't come across any loose ends in this prequel.

Cons:
- the person reading this was very difficult to listen to on far too many occasions. Her accents for certain characters (namely Gloria and Kali) were horrible and unnecessary. She made other characters sound more like they should be driving around in the Mystery Machine with Scooby Doo than members of the insightful counter culture of the 1960s. Think voices you'd use to impersonate frat boys and valley girls. Overall, the tacky accents and voices for the different characters were a distraction, and not a good one at that.

- The pop culture references were obnoxious and desperate. Talking in detail about everything from the moon landing, to Woodstock, to Lord of the Rings... it was all so unnecessary. I tend to think that anyone interested in Stranger Things would be familiar with all the cultural landmarks mentioned in this book. And familiarity is all they need. They don't need to hear details about late 60s/early 70s pop culture just because they're reading/listening to a book taking place during that time period.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Not worth your time

I wanted to like this book, as I love Stranger Things.

The book just isn’t good. The story is bland, and nothing really happens. It’s an 8 hour audiobook and the entire thing could be a 20min TV episode.

The characters don’t seem to function like normal people. We just have to assume that everyone would act irrationally. I also don’t really enjoy the writing style, as the point of view seems to constantly switch back and forth between members of the same group? Couldn’t we just stay in the perspective of the main character?

And finally, it’s not overly heavy handed, but there are certainly lots of modern political buzzwords tossed in here. I’m not expecting to get beat over the head with “smashing the patriarchy” in a tie-in novel related to a sci-fi TV show.

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In-depth backstory well done!

This flushed out a lot of the backstory and bring things full circle for the characters, (especially the new characters such as 008 & Terry) on Stranger Things 2. I will now happily rewatch the series with this new knowledge in mind. I look forward to the second novel about Hopper as well as Stranger Things 3!




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Pleasantly Surprised

Could a book based off a Netflix Original series really be any good? I assumed it would be a long stretch at trying to recreate the retro vibe the Duffer brothers have reached with Stranger Things.

I was wrong.

Don't worry I will keep the review simple and with out spoilers.

This stand alone prequel novel begins in 1969 and follows the M.K. Ultra experiments of the fictional Hawkins lab in Indiana long before the events of Stranger Things.

we do meet a younger Doctor Brenner, as well as a very young Kali. There is also a brief glimpse at a reporter we may or may not know from the series as well as a description of possible monsters in the lab that definitely sound like the demi gorgan. This and a few other Easter eggs dabbled throughout make the novel relatable and a lot of fun for Stranger Things fans but wont confuse or mislead those Using Suspicious Minds as a primer before completing the series.

Our main character Terri Ives and her friends Alice, Gloria, and Ken take us inside the experiments of Hawkins lab while also spinning a great story of love and friendship that is beautifully written without irony or cliche.

The book takes place during an important time in American history and we see our characters experience or witness events like Woodstock, the moonlanding, the Manson family, and the Vietnam War draft in addition to their drama within the lab. The book does a great job at keeping the time period real without actually telling us how different the 60's and 70's were from our present day. The characters mention things in passing kids today wont get but may be curious enough to ponder or even look up on their own. a good example is our main character discussing wearing nylons panty hose under her pants and it being far more comfortable than the stockings and girdle she wore previously but still warm and binding. Another example is a scene where some minor characters are seen wearing plastic Halloween masks. This may fly over a younger persons head and seem silly but as someone who is a child of the 70/80 I could smell the nostalgia and cheap plastic Halloween masks!

Overall I liked this book and have already preordered my copy of the next one staring Elle and Hopper. My one critique is I wish the author had fleshed out our characters a little more beyond their involvement in MK Ultra and with Terri. I think I would have cared more about the ending if I cared more about the other main characters.

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Stranger Things Pre 11

Nice to hear Terri’s story - 11 aka Baby Jane’s mother. We follow Terri as she begins going to the Hawkins lab as a volunteer at first. They don’t let her know she is pregnant but continue to experiment. The story fills the gaps in on the existence of 11 and why she is so powerful. Also there are physics that saw 11 as we saw her in the show in the future to them.

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Strange Title, Good book

Having seen the first two seasons, reading the prequel is a bit disconcerting. But the book is thorough and interesting.

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  • Gina
  • MORONGO VALLEY, CA, US
  • 03-24-19

Well done

I enjoyed this book. I listened to it to affirm it would be suitable for my daughter of 12, as the series Stranger Things is her obsession. I will be allowing her to read this book and I am thankful they kept it PG even though it contained the aspect of a love story in the under part of this mystery.

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Great Book!

The story this book tells does a great job of answering some questions about how the story in the TV show started without giving away too much!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Requisite Backstory

3.5 stars. I wanted more of that Eleven-interaction-with-friends type of action. The background story does the job but it's almost a big info dump. The writing is solid, and it's not like Eleven's mother could slay monsters in the Upside Down, so the author did a good job with what she had.

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Friends (fellow readers) Never Lie

NO SPOILERS: I reeeaallly like Stranger Things. I really liked this book.

It's mostly all new characters in somewhat of a familiar setting in 1969/1970. It deals just enough with the infamous Indigo program and the psychopathic Dr. Brennan and Eleven's mom and Hawkins to shed a lot of light on things the Netflix series only hinted at while leaving plenty of room for your own questions and theories. The book will leave you wanting more in a good way. Very strong first book of the official Stranger Things novels.

Read it now to get your fix until the next season comes out.

Ok....1 spoiler! No Barb.