Stranger Things

Updated: 4 days ago

Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down (The Official Behind-the-Scenes Companion)

(2018)


First up - the appearance of the book in case you do get hold of a copy. It's supposed to be that way. In fact, a lot of work went into making it so.


The illusion of a battered yearbook or annual was so carefully crafted that, when I opened this Christmas present, I genuinely thought this gift actually was a pre-loved book. They even put a much-needed small sticker on the front explaining the appearance, presumably to stop people misunderstanding what it was and overlooking the real gem inside.


This companion book to the Netflix TV series Stranger Things is a great way to get more out of your previous viewing experience. For the very few people on the planet who haven't already immersed themselves in Stranger Things, it's probably best summarised as a teen boy show set back in the Eighties in small-town Hawkins, Indiana.


A local facility act as a front for bizarre government research into psychic powers that (unwittingly at first) unleashes a dark and dangerous link to an upside-down world and then misguidedly tries to harness it to fight the Russians. This intrudes into everyday life in the worst possible way when one of the boys goes missing and the others in their friendship group befriend one of the research subjects after she escapes from the facility.


It's all pretty gruesome stuff, but mesmerically appealing and emotionally satisfying due to the amazing acting, the sincerity of the recreation of Eighties America and the exceptionally strong relationships between the central characters.


The book starts with a foreword from the Duffer Brothers, creators and writers of the show. There is then a prologue about their work before Stranger Things, which was interesting because I hadn't seen anything by them before.


This includes their personal recommendations for videos and books from the Eighties, including Stephen King's Firestarter and John Carpenter's The Thing. This helped set the feel of the decade even before we got to looking at the filming of Stranger Things. Information follows on how the show was commissioned, called 'Things Come Together'.


The cover of Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down shows the four boys on their bikes.
Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down

The next part of the book is very informative about characters and locations such as the Byers' home, but given that almost everyone who buys this book will have seen the show, it felt a little like reminding you of what you already knew. In fact, almost all the book was a little like that. I didn't mind this, because the show is awesome, and indeed an official companion volume almost always fulfils that role.


The book was long enough to do all that and more. There were reams of information about the shooting of the show, and recollections by the cast made it really personal and unique.


The layout, photos, colour and every last detail of the Stranger Things companion book were incredibly well thought out. It was evident that immense effort had been put into making this book excellent value for money and capable of providing hours of enjoyment to a fan of the show. It did make a unique gift. Even down to matt paper and fonts, it successfully reflected the Eighties physically as well as in its content.


This was true to the end, with the back inside cover featuring a stuck on, fold out map of Hawkins, hand annotated of course. Reading this book was an experience in itself. It was cleverly created and exhaustively well made.


Thank you for reading my review. Please share your comments below. I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'll be back on Monday.


You can buy Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down as an e-book here or as an audiobook here. You can subscribe to my blog here.


If you’ve enjoyed this review, you might be interested in reading my review of The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover here. Or you might like to take a look at my review of Behind Her Eyes here.


If you fancy something different, you might like to take a chance on my review of Life Isn’t Binary by Meg-John Barker and Alessandra Iantaffi here.

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