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Book Review: ‘Notes from the Upside Down: An Unofficial Guide to Stranger Things’ by Guy Adams

Everyone has a lot to say about episode seven of this season’s Stranger Things exclusive Netflix series (rated TV 14 for dramatic elements, fantasy and horror) from creators Ross and Matt Duffer, but before you watch for yourself check out guy Adams’ special guide/reference book, Notes from the Upside Down: An Unofficial Guide to Stranger Things. The “Upside Down” references an alternate universe in the series.

This 240-page paperback has great supplementary information for readers/fans who want to expand/enhances their Stranger Things experience.

The book’s main section includes eight chapters covering the first season with the same titles as the aired series, which is set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana during the 1980s (beginning in November, 1983; the recently released second season starts in October 1984). Readers find several references to music, movies, 80s popular culture and books mentioned in the show as well as inspired by the show. Considerable insight, cast biographies and expansive information on the show’s beginnings will satisfy fans and win over new ones.

Find out how State Trooper David O’Bannon got his name while exploring other engaging trivia (a.k.a. “homework”) items with answers in the back. This book goes after conspiracy theories in the show as well.

Not much information on the show’s production in the “Introduction” section (e.g. each episode averaged about 11 days of production time), but this first section spends so much time on the Duffer brothers’ background that eventually led to the events that created this series.

This book also has nice summaries of each episode. The four appendixes compound constant recommendation in the main text to watch other media, which would make a richer experience, but would require some considerable time audiences do not likely have. These calls are repeated a bit too much.

Adams is also author of The Sherlock Files: The Official Companion to the Hit Television Series. He considerately mentions spoiler information and helps readers connect the dots among many references. People rarely catch everything the first time, so it’s a great discovery experience. He has several footnotes in the main text for reference and credibility. Adams even includes a recipe among the highly informative chapters as a welcome break.

The humor in Adams’ tone comes from his background in comedy and acting and balances the as a good balance to the book’s endless details. No pictures besides the icon on the chapter title pages and the beginning and no visual references to the series’s artwork design represent the book’s only notable weakness. However, Adams safely assumes readers know what the cast looks like, so not including their photos is no loss.

This recommended book, published by Touchstone, also has notes sections throughout and in the back, so readers can really interact while reading by recording their own impressions, making the book even more valuable.

Notes from the Upside Down: An Unofficial Guide to Stranger Things is a great, affordable holiday gift for fans and potential fans.

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