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Stranger Things is an American science fiction-horror web television series created, written, directed and co-executive produced by the Duffer Brothers, as well as co-executive produced by Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen. Set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in the 1980s, the first season focuses on the investigation into the disappearance of a young boy amid supernatural events occurring around the town including the appearance of a psychokinetic girl who helps the missing boy's friends in their own search. The second season is set a year after the first, and deals with attempts of the characters to return to normal and consequences from that season.
The Duffer Brothers developed the series as a mix of investigative drama alongside supernatural elements with childlike sensibilities, establishing its time frame in the 1980s and creating a homage to pop culture of that decade. Several themes and directorial aspects were inspired and aesthetically informed by the works of Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, and Stephen King, among others. It received critical acclaim for its characterization, pacing, atmosphere, acting, soundtrack, directing, writing, and homages to 1980s genre films. The series has received several industry nominations and awards, including winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2016 and receiving eighteen nominations for the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series. On August 31, 2016, Netflix renewed the series for the second season of nine episodes, which was released on October 27, 2017. The Duffer Brothers have confirmed that the series will continue with a third season, pursuing a desire to conclude Stranger Things with a fourth or fifth season. (Wikipedia)
Once you've finished binge-watching Stranger Things seasons 1 & 2, here are a few books involving 80s nostalgia and/or horrifying mysteries to keep the adventure going.
Boy's Life by Robert McCammon
The lake's depths claim a car and a corpse. Cory and his father begin searching for the truth of this death. Cory's life explodes into a kaleidoscope of clues and puzzles. As he searches for a killer, he learns more about the meaning of life and death. (catalog summary)
The Boys of Summer by Richard Cox
In 1979, a massive tornado devastated the city of Wichita Falls, Texas, leaving scores dead, thousands homeless, and nine-year-old Todd Willis in a coma, fighting for his life. Four years later, Todd awakens to a world that looks the same but feels different in a way he can't quite grasp. For Todd, it's a struggle to separate fact from fiction as he battles lingering hallucinations from his long sleep. The new friends Todd makes in 1983 are fascinated with his experience and become mesmerized by his strange relationship with the world. Together the five boys come of age during a dark, fiery summer where they find first love, betrayal, and a secret so terrible they agree to never speak of it again. But darkness returns to Wichita Falls twenty-five years later, and the boys-now men-are forced to reunite and confront the wounds from their past. When their memories of that childhood summer refuse to align with reality, the friends embark upon a search for truth that will threaten their lives and transform their understanding of each — other and the world — itself forever. (catalog summary)
The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue
Ever since he nearly drowned in the ocean three years earlier, 10-year-old Jack Peter Keenan has been deathly afraid to venture outdoors. Refusing to leave his home in a small coastal town in Maine, Jack Peter spends his time drawing monsters. When those drawings take on a life of their own, no one is safe from the terror they inspire. His mother, Holly, begins to hear strange sounds in the night coming from the ocean, and she seeks answers from the local Catholic priest and his Japanese housekeeper who fill her head with stories of shipwrecks and ghosts. His father, Tim, wanders the beach, frantically searching for a strange apparition running wild in the dunes. And the boy's only friend, Nick, becomes helplessly entangled in the eerie power of the drawings. While those around Jack Peter are haunted by what they think they see, only he knows the truth behind the frightful occurrences as the outside world encroaches upon them all. (catalog summary)
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
One night after an evening out, Jason Dessen, forty-year-old physics professor living with his wife and son in Chicago, is kidnapped at gunpoint by a masked man, driven to an abandoned industrial site and injected with a powerful drug. As he wakes, a man Jason's never met smiles down at him and says, "Welcome back, my friend." But this life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife; his son was never born, and he's not an ordinary college professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something impossible. Is it this world or the other that's the dream? How can he possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could have imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe. (catalog summary)
Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay
When her fourteen-year-old son disappears during a summer sleepover at Devil's Rock, Elizabeth and other residents of the town begin to see his ghost throughout the town, which leads her to believe that he is dead. She tries to maintain a sense of calm to help her younger daughter, Katie, but her anxiety builds when she begins to find crumpled pages of Tommy's journal which contain disturbing connections between Tommy's father's death, a stranger named Arnold, and a macabre folktale. (catalog summary)
Firestarter by Stephen King
During their college years, Andrew and Vicky McGee participated in a series of experiments. As a result, they developed telepathic powers, allowing them to influence those around him. But when their daughter Charlie started to display terrible pyrokinetic abilities, a ruthless government agency attempted to kidnap her, resulting in Vicky's death. Now on the run, Andrew must shield his daughter from John Rainbird, a Cherokee assassin hired to capture them. (catalog summary)
IT by Stephen King
It's a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry, the haunting is real. They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But none of them can withstand the force that has drawn them back to Derry to face the nightmare without an end—and the evil without a name. (catalog summary)
Meddling Kids by Edward Cantero
The summer of 1977. The Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in Oregon's Zoinx River Valley) solved their final mystery and unmasked the elusive Sleepy Lake monster—another low-life fortune hunter trying to get his dirty hands on the legendary riches hidden in Deboën Mansion. And he would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for those meddling kids. 1990. The former detectives have grown up and apart, each haunted by disturbing memories of their final night in the old haunted house. There are too many strange, half-remembered encounters and events that cannot be dismissed or explained away by a guy in a mask . . . The time has come to get the team back together, face their fears, and find out what actually happened all those years ago at Sleepy Lake. It's their only chance to end the nightmares and, perhaps, save the world. (catalog summary)
My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
1988. Charleston, South Carolina. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act—different. She's moody. She's irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she's nearby. Abby's investigation leads her to some startling discoveries—and, by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil? (catalog summary)
Read a review on My Best Friend's Exorcism, here.
Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan
In the early hours after Halloween on 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and supernatural mysteries collide in this series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood. (Catalog summary)
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. The shrill siren song of a calliope beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes . . . and the stuff of nightmare. (catalog summary)
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons
It's the summer of 1960 in Elm Haven, Illinois, and five 12-year-old boys are forming the bonds that a lifetime of changes will never erase. But then a dark cloud threatens the bright promise of summer vacation. On the last day of school, their classmate Tubby Cooke vanishes. Soon the group discovers stories of other children who once disappeared from Elm Haven. And there are other strange things happening in town: unexplained holes in the ground, a stranger dressed as a World War I soldier, and a rendering-plant truck that seems to be following the five boys. The friends realize that there is a terrible evil lurking in Elm Haven...and they must be the ones to stop it. (catalog summary)
Watch the trailer for Stranger Things season 2, below.