I was pretty stoked to check this book out as its a spin off from the TV show Stranger Things, which I loved although I was super late to that party. The book also focuses on Jim Hopper, my favourite character from the series.
Set after the 2nd season on Christmas Day it starts with Eleven asking Hopper questions about the boxes she found in the cellar. What is Vietnam?
Unwilling to elaborate on his experiences there he deflects but El asks about another box, labelled New York. Inside is evidence and notes relating to a case from Hopper’s time as a homicide detective in the late ’70s. Hopper begins to tell the story, about a series of ritual murders in the summer of 1977.
The murders wind up leading Hopper into a deeper world of federal agents, gangs and a mysterious figure proclaiming that the devil is coming to the Big Apple.
The book is a fast flowing adventure, a solidly constructed thriller that rattles along at a good pace. Christopher writes with energy and a good eye for character, succeeding in creating a younger, more idealistic version of Hopper which feels in keeping with the man he will become in the ’80s.
He also writes decent dialogue and gets the tone right, gripping without being grim and with little human and humourous moments.
As with the series it uses nostalgia and familiar pop culture riffs, but it stands on its own feet as an entertaining, if hardly earth shattering read. You don’t need to read it to follow the story, but it is well done in the way it shows the developing bond between Hopper and El, delves into his past in Vietnam briefly and shows us more of the happy family man he was.
Fun, gripping and a godsend on my night shifts. 8/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.