“Stranger Things” and Read-Alikes
The Christmas season is upon us, much stress and you might think little time to read, however reading is a great tension reliever and if you have got caught up in the exciting web of the new, very popular, ‘Netflix’ TV series ‘Stranger Things’ created by the Duffer brothers you could need a replacement. Unfortunately there are only eight episodes so if you are feeling bereft for more you are sure to enjoy a few book suggestions that match up with this TV genre.
‘Stranger Things’ invites you into the world of science fiction, horror, alternate realities, ESP and Government conspiracies, great stuff to take your mind off shopping for the right gift, planning meals, entertaining etc. The following are some book choices relating closely to ‘Stranger Things’.
This book is certainly reminiscent of ‘Stanger Things’, good pitted against evil, plenty of blood and gore, murders abound. The storyline meanders through 1958 to 1985, so we have the 80s again. Seven children are involved in solving the horrific crimes of a threatening force. They do succeed but twenty seven years on the force returns with ghastly results and the now same children now adults must use their ingenuity once more in a race against time.
Horror and conspiracy make this a close match to ‘Stranger Things’. A house in a dark alley with a small door, no handle, no keyhole, mystery surrounds. There is no address, but enter and the door closes behind you and magically there is a garden in front. Five unrelated people are lured in between the years 1979 to 2015. Ghostly and haunting this narrative will keep you on the edge of your seat. The tale encompasses the lives of two pairs of immortals, one soul sucking vampires and the other slightly more congenial. Victims are lured to the house never to depart again and the story chronicles these strange encounters. Mitchell is always original and deftly plies his talents in this combination of realism, mystery and the supernatural.
So much in common here with ‘Stranger Things’, government conspiracy, psychic experiments gone wrong, children with extraordinary powers. A sci-fi thriller with the protagonist, Eleven, a young girl with burgeoning telepathic and superhuman abilities, electricity included! Also set in the 1980’s but more fearsome is Charlie McGee whose talents favour pyrotechnics. Other books of King’s oeuvre pop up in the Duffer Brothers work, ‘The Waste Lands’ (monsters in the walls) and ‘Cujo’ gets an onscreen cameo.
Another 80s horror and supernatural thriller. Cory Mackenson, only 12 years old witnesses a car plunging into a lake with someone inside. He and his father attempt a rescue but the occupant is already dead, secured to the steering wheel with handcuffs! Add a dinosaur’s appearance at the local fair, ghosts and some very turbulent happenings thrown in with a bit of sorcery and we certainly have a tie in with “Stranger Things”.
Halloween arrives early in Green Town, Illinois, and on its heels comes the infamous carnival Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Show. Death and destruction falls upon those who venture to attend, it seems a season of dying. Two adolescent boys will uncover the clandestine secret of the mazes and mirrors and with it the diabolical consequences. A dark tale of children seeking adulthood and adults looking to recapture their youth and wishes with nightmarish consequences.
The parallels here with ‘Stranger Things’ are not as apparent, but they are there. Set in the 80s again and both having shadowy laboratory experiments that do not turn out in quite the intended way conceptualizes part of the similarities. Using genetic engineering as with similar brain washing in the production of the gifted ‘Eleven’, scientists at the Banodyne Labs create a super dog ‘Einstein’, who has human intelligence. This is not the ultimate experiment however as the narrative chronicles the idea of creating a cunning intelligence combined with ferocious, predatory powers to invent the perfect weapon of war, namely ‘The Outsider’. This in time, produces a terrifying sequence of events.
When fourteen-year-old Sarah Crane’s mother suddenly dies and her father is imprisoned after killing a man in a brawl she is left in the care of a foster family which is a chilling experience. Desperate for a friend Sarah becomes involved with a classmate, Nick Dunnigan, who is battling his own demons; he is a former mental patient who has hallucinations and visions. Sarah has a talent for painting and befriends a weird art instructor, Bettina, who lives in her ancestral mansion. While painting there Sarah discovers horrific monsters drift from her paintbrush, all related to the house’s murky past and these are the monsters from Nick’s visions. These vicious incarnations from past graves must now be harnessed by Sarah and Nick so they can take control and revenge upon them.