written by David Steffen
Suspicious Minds is a fantasy/science fiction thriller prequel novel, the first official Stranger Things novel, written by Gwenda Bond, published in 2019. The book (and this review) may container spoilers for the first two seasons of the TV show.
In the TV show we eventually meet Eleven’s mother, Terry Ives, but she is in a nearly catatonic state, living within her mind in an internal loop a traumatic event. Eleven manages to establish psychic contact with her and find out a little bit of her story, but this novel is the story of a younger Terry Ives.
The year is 1969, Terry is a college student, while the Vietnam war is raging overseas. Strapped for cash, Terry volunteers to be a medical test subject for the local laboratory. She has the sense that the experiment will change the world in some way, but she doesn’t know much details. She makes new friends in the waiting room for the experiment, and soon they all meet Richard Brenner, who is now in charge of the experiment.
Since the book is written with an audience who knows how Terry Ives ended up, much of the ending of the book is already known, so there is a looming sense of dread throughout the book. There are some significant things we know, but there are plenty of other things we don’t, such as the fate of her friends, and what other things Terry is involved in during this time period.
I found this a solid read for fans of the TV show, though I would recommend waiting until watching seasons 1 and 2 before watching this. Even knowing how much of it turns out, there area lot of interesting and compelling characters, high stakes, you get some more insight into characters that you know, including Richard Brenner, Terry Ives, and Kali.