Eleven was desperately trying to find and connect with her mother in the most recent season of Stranger Things. Even when she found her she could only learn so much from her mother and her aunt about what had led to both mother and daughter becoming part of a strange government experiment. Stranger Things Suspicious Minds dives back in time to 1969 to share with fans of the series just what happened with Terry Ives during her time with Dr. Martin Brenner in Hawkins, Indiana.
1969 was a time of major historical moments including Woodstock and the moon landing, but within this period of firsts Dr. Martin Brenner is trying to make some major strides himself. In his steps toward scientific advancement he has come to Indiana with a young girl, who much like Eleven calls him Papa. 008, or Kali, has been brought to a research facility to wait for the arrival of more children. As she waits Brenner is focused on adults, particularly single, college age adults. Terry Ives never expected to be part of a study, but when her roommate decides she can’t go back she decides to take her spot. When she arrives at the psychology building on her campus she is surprised to meet three other subjects, one of whom is a man. Even though she was not originally part of the study, Brenner decides to include her and she becomes friends with Alice, Grace, and Ken. As the study progresses each of them is tested in different ways, Ken though insists he is already a psychic and not much of his part of the study is shown. Terry is pushed into her memories and goes through regression in a variety of ways, including sensory deprivation. Grace seems to be the focus of a more standard MKULTRA style project and is asked to identify where troops are in Vietnam. The remaining woman, Alice, finds herself forced to endure electric shocks and the longer the study continues the more she begins to fear the monsters she thinks are in her mind.
As the plot follows the people in the study, Terry’s desire to know more about she is involved with pushes her to test some of the boundaries that are set by Brenner. When she learns about the young girl inside the facility she becomes even more focused on understanding what the reason really is for this study. These elements of her personality tie her to her daughter Eleven. Both characters begin to lose their trust in Brenner and push to understand what is really being done to them. While Terry is the primary focus of this book, I found myself connecting with Alice. Of the group she is the only one not enrolled in college, but she is remarkably intelligent. She wants to take things apart and understand them and Brenner pushes her limits to try and get more out of her. Even though she is a afraid she always searches to understand the devices around her. As a fan of the series, my sister and I even binged the first season in one fell swoop when it came out, I enjoyed this look into the time before Eleven and the early days of the study. While I think this is a great listen for anyone who already enjoys Stranger Things, I also think this could act as a way to get more people to check out the series. It can act as a gateway into Hawkins, Indiana and the mysterious Upside Down for sci-fi fans. You can listen to the prequel novel, Stranger Things Suspicious Minds on Audible today.