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Have you seen Stranger Things on Netflix? What books should you read if you like the show?
Based in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in the 1980s, Stranger Things depicts a group of young friends who uncover supernatural forces and experiments after their friend goes missing and a powerful girl shows up in their town. The series has both horror and coming-of-age elements that are often found in fictional books.
Read below for a list of must-read books for fans of Stranger Things.
It by Stephen King
Stephen King’s horror novel It is often recommended to Stranger Things fans because of its core group’s uncanny resemblance to Stranger Things’ friend group. Nerdy, adolescent boys make up the group and a girl comes along, changing the entire dynamic. The children are also forced to face a monster in their small town all on their own in the 1980s. It’s no coincidence that this resemblance exists—The Duffer Brothers have even stated they took inspiration from It when writing Stranger Things.
Much like the Demogorgons in Hawkins, It’s fictional town of Derry, Maine is terrorized by the evil presence of Pennywise the Clown. But Pennywise also is extremely similar to Vecna in Season 4 of Stranger Things: both creatures force their victims to see their greatest fear and take them captive when they’re at their weakest.
Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan
Another story that takes place in the 1980s is the graphic novel Paper Girls. But instead of a group of boys being the focus, it’s a group of girls. Paper Girls follows a group of 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls who discover a mysterious force in their fictional town in Ohio.
The supernatural element of Paper Girls is time travel. The girls come across a time machine and a group of teenage time travelers who are in a war against “Old Timers.” Over time, the girls are transported through different time periods in the future and have to accept who they later become. It’s a coming-of-age story that deeply resonates with the Stranger Things kids struggling to grow up and move on from their innocent childhood.
The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way
The idea of raising superpowered children isn’t new to Netflix. In fact, The Umbrella Academy makes Dr. Brenner’s experiments look tame. The Umbrella Academy is based on Gerard Way’s comic book series of the same name and is extremely popular on Netflix. But a lot of people who only watch the show miss out on the family’s quirky dynamic in the comic books.
The Umbrella Academy focuses on seven super-powered siblings who reunite at their father’s funeral. The siblings are forced to work together as a family and superhero team to save the world and unlock their father’s secrets. In many ways, the siblings’ father (wealthy entrepreneur Reginald Hargreeves) is much like Brenner. They both show little to no care for their children and treat them as test subjects, which ultimately backfires on them when the children become too powerful to control.
Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
Sawkill Girls brings a group of girls together to perform the impossible. It’s a great read for Stranger Things viewers whose favorite characters are Eleven, Max, or Nancy and who want a fantastic story about female empowerment. Unlike Stranger Things, Sawkill Girls embraces a different aspect of horror: the scary campfire story.
In Sawkill Girls, the girls are all from different backgrounds but find a common ground: they want to defeat the urban legend Collector. The Collector has been nothing more than a story to scare people on the island, but women are constantly going missing. The police chief’s daughter Zoey suspects the Collector has something to do with it, Val holds the secret of the generations of missing girls, and newcomer Marion is more involved in the mystery than she thought she’d be.
Imaginary Friend By Stephen Chbosky
Stephen Chbosky’s psychological horror novel Imaginary Friend is a radical departure from his popular book Perks of Being a Wallflower, but it’s an excellent read for Stranger Things fans. Imaginary Friend depicts single mother Kate Reese and her son Christopher as they’re on the run from an abusive relationship. They end up in Pennsylvania, where Christopher is the new kid in town. It all seems fine at first until Christopher vanishes for six days. When he returns, he has an imaginary friend who tells him he has until Christmas to build a treehouse in the woods or something will happen to everyone in the town.
The lengths Kate goes to find out what happened to her son are the same as Joyce in Stranger Things. Likewise, Christopher and Will both are being controlled by voices that only they can hear, and the fate of their respective towns rests in their hands.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
For those who loved Season 4’s storyline depicting the “Satanic Panic” in the 1980s, My Best Friend’s Exorcism is right up your alley. The horror novel is set during roughly the same time period as Stranger Things Season 4 when people suspected Satanic ritual abuse was occurring in the United States.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism follows two best friends Abby and Gretchen whose relationship is on the rocks. They both take LSD one night which results in Gretchen disappearing in the woods but returning a few hours later, naked and acting odd. Gretchen is seemingly fine after her disappearance, but she becomes more erratic by the minute. Abby suspects she’s been possessed by a demon and is determined to expel the demon.
What Books Would You Recommend?
These books are just a few of the many books out there that are similar to Stranger Things in some way. That being said, what other books would you recommend to Stranger Things fans? Post your recommendations in the comments below, along with your thoughts on any of the books listed above.
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