Like the rest of the internet, I've been utterly consumed by the Netflix original series Stranger Things. And, even though I'm now mildly afraid of monsters and Christmas tree lights, season 2 can't come soon enough. So, while we all wait for the Duffer Brothers to get their act together, here are some books to read based on your favorite Stranger Things character.
Stranger Things is pretty openly a love letter to '80s nostalgia, the films of Steven Spielberg, and the books of Stephen King (a lot of kids riding bikes, basically). If you're not too attached to the idea of sleeping through the night, you're welcome to go on a reading binge and tear through a few dozen paranormal masterpieces of the '80s. There's plenty to read even before you get to the modern paranormal masterpieces set in the '80s. But if you're looking for something a little more specific, you might want to think about what your fave Stranger Things character would be reading.
What would Will read if he could have taken one book with him to the Upside Down? Which comic would Dustin lend you from his collection? What terrifying children's book did Eleven's "Papa" read to her as a young lab experiment? Here's my best guess:
1. Joyce: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
True, Winona Ryder plays a human mother trying to save her son by delving into a mysterious government science program, and not a mouse. But I think Joyce Byers would identify with Mrs. Frisby's determination to save her kids. And the titular rats of NIMH know more than their fair share about mind-expanding scientific experimentation.
2. Jim Hopper: The City & the City
Hopper may seem like a slouch at the start of the series, but by the end of season one he's proven himself as a tough, capable investigator. The City & the City is part police procedural, part strange science fiction experiment, all set in one city... with another city existing on top of it. In the exact same space time. But totally different and supposedly "unseen." As Hopper can attest, it's tough to solve a crime that spans two different worlds in one physical space.
3. Mike: Let the Right One In
As the quintessential kid hero from the '80s, there are so many books that could work for Mike (re: all of Stephen King). But Let the Right One In is the odd, dark, touching story of a friendship between a bullied little boy and a troubled little girl with mysterious powers. Mike's relationship with Eleven is the heart of Stranger Things in so many ways, and he would most certainly relate.
4. Nancy: Hunting Monsters
Hunting Monsters is short, but worth the read if you're looking for a story about a teenage girl out to hunt some "monsters." Unlike Nancy, Xiao Hong has been hunting since she was a little kid. But both she and Nancy are sharp shooters willing to risk anything to save the people they love (and both of them are about to discover that the world isn't quite what it seems).
5. Barb: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
OK, OK, so we didn't really get to know Barb well enough to prescribe a book for her. But I do think that Barb would identify strongly with the title of Mindy Kaling's comedic masterpiece, as well as its focus on friendship and lack of supernatural elements. And I'm sorry to say that yes, Barb... everyone is hanging out without you. Because you're dead in the Upside Down.
6. Jonathan: Black Swan Green
Poor, creepy Jonathan Byers. Not only would he identify with the oddball teen protagonist of Black Swan Green, he would probably also be an artsy and pretentious fan of David Mitchell (I mean, I love you David Mitchell, but let's be honest here). Plus there's divorce and '80s nostalgia (albeit in England).
7. Lucas: Hatchet
Lucas loves fantasy role playing just as much as the other Stranger Things kids, but he also has a much more realistic view of survival. Out of all the characters, he'd probably have the best chance of surviving after a plan crash in the wilderness like in Hatchet . He's the most self-sufficient of the four boys, and the best at rocking a bandanna.
8. Dustin: Paper Girls
Paper Girls is the story of a group of friends in the '80s, riding bikes and dealing with the paranormal. Sound familiar? As the biggest comics nerd of the group, Dustin would definitely be a fan of Brian K. Vaughan and his supremely nostalgic comic book series. I don't think Dustin would mind that all the kids are girls, either. He's a pretty forward-thinking dude.
9. Will: Picnic at Hanging Rock
We don't actually see too much of Will in season 1 of Stranger Things. He's busy being trapped in another dimension. But if you're interested in reading about supernatural missing kids, then Picnic at Hanging Rock is the deeply mysterious, infuriating, and all-around creepy book for you. Three kids climb up hanging rock... and they never come down....
10. Eleven: Firestarter
Just one Stephen King novel, because it's too perfect to pass up. I mean, government experimentation? Telekinesis? Little girls with strange and horrifying powers? There's no way the Duffer Brothers didn't read this book. Sweet little Eleven would recognize a lot of her own past in the disturbing, twisted tale of Firestarter.
11. The Monster: Grendel
What? Why is the monster your favorite character? I mean... I guess if you think that "Petals" the Demogorgon is just a misunderstood animal trying to eat... then you can read Grendel and feel sad for big, misunderstood monsters everywhere.
Images: Netflix, Giphy (2)