So you’ve devoured all eight episodes of the addictive Netflix series STRANGER THINGS in a day. You’ve cried for Barb, disagreed with Nancy’s choice in men, and you identified with Chief Hopper on his coffee morals. But, the series left you with more questions than answers and you don’t know what to do with yourself. Now what?
The good news is that STRANGR THINGS has been renewed for a second season! There will be justice for Barb, and we’ll be reunited with our favorite characters in the mysterious town known as Hawkins. The bad news is that you have to wait a little while.
While you wait, it’s best to satiate your appetite with other things similar to the series. There are plenty of movies to watch—like E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL—but, we wanted to give some ideas for the book nerds out there.
These are five books that are written in the same vein as STRANGER THINGS, revolving around small towns and their peculiar events. Check out the books on this list, and STRANGER THINGS season 2 will be here before you know it!
IT by Stephen King
While pretty much every Stephen King book should be on your STRANGER THINGS reading list, IT was the novel that heavily inspired the Duffer Brothers when writing their series. In fact, the Duffer Brothers were so passionate about King’s novel that they wanted to write and direct the upcoming IT movie remake. Sadly, the brothers didn’t get the job, but we were given STRANGER THINGS instead!
While we will never see the Duffer Brothers’ version of IT, you can read the King classic about a group of seven kids who are terrorized by an evil in their small town of Derry, Maine. The evil changes form to appear as what the character’s fear most, but it prominently takes the shape of Pennywise, the clown we all know and love.
PAPER GIRLS by Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang
Viewers get the point-of-view of 12-year-old boys in STRANGER THINGS. We get a glimpse at their friendships, their personalities and the things that make each of them unique. The graphic novel PAPER GIRLS takes that idea and flips it, giving us a look into the relationships between a set of 12-year-old girls.
PAPER GIRLS is a beautifully illustrated story that follows a group of paper girls who encounter monsters during their Halloween paper route. The story takes place in the eighties, and is full of the nostalgia that made STRANGER THINGS so fun.
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES by Ray Bradbury
One of the major components in the plot of STRANGER THINGS is the secret government agency casting its dark shadow on Hawkins. Project MKUltra essentially opens a gateway to evil, bringing the Demogorgon into Hawkins to terrorize its residents.
While there isn’t a government agency causing chaos in Ray Bradbury’s SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, there is an enigmatic carnival that is just as dangerous. The classic tale follows two 13-year-old boys who encounter the travelling carnival, and come face-to-face with the sinister Mr. Dark—a man with a plan to turn the town into his slaves.
KILLER PIZZA by Greg Taylor
In the end of STRANGER THINGS we see the kids standing up to the evil in the town, confronting their fears and bravely embracing very adult situations. Luckily for the kids in the Hawkins AV Club, they’re friends with Eleven, and she can destroy the bad guys with the blink of an eye.
While there are no kids with telekinetic powers in KILLER PIZZA, the story similarly revolves around a group of kids who must face their fears and save their small town from monsters. The book introduces us to Toby as he starts a summer job at a pizza place—which just so happens to be a front for a monster hunting organization. Toby and his peers grow and learn lessons as they overcome monsters, and defeat evil.
In 2011, KILLER PIZZA was actually adapted into a screenplay by Adam Green (HATCHET, HOLLISTON), with Chris Columbus (writer of GREMLINS and THE GOONIES) set to produce. We can only hope that the success of STRANGER THINGS will bring this film into fruition.
SUMMER OF NIGHT by Dan Simmons
One of the best elements of STRANGER THINGS is that it all takes place in a small town. The characters appear very real and relatable—because they are meant to be just like us. The evil slithering through small town life can be taken both literally and figuratively, and the journey of the characters can be viewed as the struggles we all face in life.
SUMMER OF NIGHT is a horror series that plays on similar themes, putting its child characters into the peril hiding among the shadows of small town American life. Taking place in the 60s, the story follows five kids in Illinois who discover an evil in their school. The characters must come together to outsmart and overpower the demon, and survive.