Review: Suspicious Minds (Stranger Things #1) by Gwenda Bond
Series: Stranger Things #1
Published by Del Rey Books on February 5, 2019
An upcoming book 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 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!