Have you also been binge watching Stranger Things on Netflix? The series is just one sci-fi creepy nod to everything 1980s and it’s oddly compelling. I finished watching season 1 at the weekend, can you believe it was only eight episodes? I’m bereft now, so while I’m waiting for season 2, I started wondering what books there are out there that fit this weird, sci-fi, almost cult genre.
Kids, government experiments, monsters, superpowers, supernatural, 1980s music, nods to Stephen King, Stranger Things has it all, and if you’re looking for something to read to tide you over to season 2, which isn’t likely to be until next year, then we have some fantastic book suggestions for you!
Our love for Eleven knows no bounds, and so we have Eleven books to read while you await Stranger Things Season 2, chosen in her honour.
The Girl With All The Gifts – M. R Carey
The hot book of last year, and now a movie too is The Girl With All the Gifts, which sounds rather like Eleven of Stranger Things! However, this time we’re talking about Melanie, a survivor of the apocalypse, but this has lots of elements of Stranger Things, including ticking the ‘very strange’ box.
Edge of Dark Water – Joe R. Lansdale
There was something about 80s kids’ productions, no matter how many bad guys appeared, no one ever thought to confide in their parents, and when they did the parents didn’t really listen anyway (anyone who grew up in the 80s may be able to relate). The Edge of Dark Water isn’t from the 80s, it’s set in the Depression but when a group of friends discover one of them has been murdered and dumped in a river, they go all Scooby Doo to solve the crime.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs
We can’t say that Eleven would be out of place in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and she seems to take a lot better care of the children in her charge than Eleven’s father too! This one has also just gone to the big screen, and it’s part of a trilogy so you’ll have plenty to read.
Firestarter – Stephen King
Stranger Things is packed full of King references, and the 80s classic, Firestarter bears many similar features. Think government experiments, freaky kids and atmospheric surroundings, reading Firestarter will throw you straight back into the strange world of Stranger Things.
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
If what you love about Stranger Things is that 80s sci-fi feel, then Ready Player One may well be one for your TBR pile. 80s video games, weird monsters, and Dungeons and Dragon references aplenty, make this perfect if you’re looking to immerse yourself in 80s pop culture.
Summer of Night – Dan Simmons
I’m not sure how scary Stranger Things was meant to be, but it had me jumping out of my seat in parts! Summer of Night is similar, and the first in a series of horror novels published in 1991. Set in the 1960s, we’re in a different time zone, but it’s all down to pre-teens to save the world from the monsters.
Paper Girls – Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang
If you’re more into graphic fiction that novels, Paper Girls is the perfect complement to Stranger Things. Sci-fi loveliness, featuring an all female gang, it’s 1988 and four 12-year-old girls have just discovered the most important story of all time.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson
To throw a classic into the mix we have Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. A spooky tale of the Blackwood family full of magic and impending danger.
Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury
Sticking with the classics we have dark fantasy from Ray Bradbury, some 13-year old best friends, a travelling caravan and a nightmarish tale of fantasy and horror, and coming of age in the most frightening way.
The Talisman – Stephen King and Peter Straub
This King collaboration is the perfect complement to Stranger Things as 12-year old Jack Sawyer heads out on a quest to find the talisman and save his mother. Parallel universes, child protagonists, and an 80s backdrop will make you feel like you’re back with Eleven and the Gang.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
The one thing that Stranger Things shows us is the disconnect between childhood and adulthood, a theme that Gaiman looks at in The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It’s a struggle of good and evil, full of typical Gaiman magic and fans of Stranger Things are likely to love it!
So that’s our top Eleven, chosen by the team here at FRA, and there were plenty of other novels thrown into the ideas piles too, including Stephen King’s IT, Gaiman’s Neverwhere and Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials as novels that were suitably weird enough and creepy to make the list.
We hope that offers you some good suggestions while you await season 2 of Stranger Things!