New Release & Audiobook Review: Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond

Crushed on by Christy Jane, on February 20, 2019, in New Releases, Reviews / 0 Comments

New Release & Audiobook Review: Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond

I am here for Stranger Things building out its (media) universe and adding to the story through books. I love the Star Wars expanded universe and seeing characters and stories we wouldn’t in the movies. I was even more excited to see Gwenda Bond take on the first of these novels! Check out our review of Suspicious Minds below (and ICYMI – the cover and synopsis unveiling of Hopper’s backstory and a review of Worlds Turned Upside Down!).

New Release & Audiobook Review: Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond

Suspicious Minds (Stranger Things #1)

by Gwenda Bond
Narrator: Kristen Sieh
Published by: Cornerstone Digital
on February 7, 2019
Genres: Adult, Sci-Fi, Speculative Fiction
Pages: 304

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.


The show is slowly giving us more about Eleven and the Upside Down but what Suspicious Minds gives us is a character driven prequel featuring Eleven’s mother. Watching the show, weren’t you curious as to why a mother would allow her daughter to be treated like a scientific experiment? Or how Dr. Brenner became aware of Eleven in the first place? I sure was, and now we know.

There are so many things to love about this story, and so many things that Stranger Things fans will love.

We all know that the characters make the show as fantastic as it is. Suspicious Minds embraces the same mantra, which is why Gwenda Bond was the perfect choice to write it. Her stories are full of characters you want to know personally and this is no different. Obviously Terry is the star of this story but side characters such as Alice and Eight are equally built out and enjoyable. 

The 80s are an integral part of the Stranger Things world and Suspicious Minds expands this to the late 60s as well. Gwenda introduces timely discussions about Vietnam, gives us a taste of the music (and Woodstock!), and uses world building to drop the reader in a time they may have not experienced. Certainly us 80s children adore Stranger Things because of nostalgia but I also loved Suspicious Minds for sharing a piece of history I don’t often see. 

This is not a horror novel in the traditional sense but is a horrifying story of government experiments (a real thing) and one man’s need to push humanity to its limits, one unsuspecting human at a time. I got a lot of answers to questions I didn’t even know I had. Kristen Sieh did an excellent job narrating, portraying emotions and allowing a reader to immerse in the story. I look forward to more books in the universe (and from Gwenda, always!)

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