Us Against You Book Review

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman {translated by Neil Smith} published in 2018.

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“After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach. Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute. As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.”

us against you

I haven’t read many sequels to the books I’ve reviewed, so this is a first.

It’s kind of pointless to provide a summary of this book because it’s almost a direct continuation of Backman’s novel Beartown, so if you’re that curious, go read my review for “Beartown”. It focuses on the same characters with the same problems in the same town, which I liked and disliked at the same time. All of the characters are so interesting and unique that I could probably read another whole novel about them, it’s just trying to pass it as a completely different book/sequel is kind of a stretch. I usually regard sequels as the same set of characters facing a new challenge after a significant change of time, yet this book picks up almost instantly after the end of “Beartown”, as Kevin (the town’s star hockey player and Maya’s rapist) leaves town out of shame. The town is left to pick up the pieces, both as a whole community and each individual that is affected by the rape. It’s almost like Backman wrote an 800 page novel about these characters and this plot, but his publisher advised him to split it up into two different books so it didn’t intimidate readers. Again, the story itself is so interesting and thought-provoking that the continuing storyline is bearable, but I don’t think I’d like this in most sequels.

This review probably won’t be as long as my usual ones, mainly because I don’t want to repeat a lot of the stuff I said in my “Beartown” review since the two books are so similar. The character development is fabulous, both individually and as an entire community. There were many storylines going on at the same time, yet they tied together so nicely that I had a genuine interest in all of them and wasn’t confused. While the majority of the characters were from the original novel “Beartown”, there were also several new characters introduced such as a sly politician, “The Pack”, a local gang that everyone denies and knowledge of, and Leo Andersson, Maya’s younger brother.

I’ve heard some people say that they really don’t like Backman’s style of writing, and I couldn’t disagree more. I noticed he has a habit of using “power statements” (which is a term I made up just now). Either at the beginning or end of a few long paragraphs, he inserts a single sentence (occasionally two sentences, I guess if he’s feeling wild) that basically sums up what you are about to read/what you just read. Yet these are not normal sentences, hence my self-deemed title of “power statements”. Backman has this ability to create such compelling and commanding sentences that never fail to knock the wind out of me and sometimes physically causes me to sit back in my chair and just absorb what just hit me. It’s somehow very matter-of-fact but also metaphorically at the same time. I love writing like this, it makes me think a lot and really evokes a lot of strong emotions.

I don’t have much else to say about this that I didn’t already cover in my review for “Beartown”. This didn’t disappoint in the slightest, and even though it has the possibility to hold up on its own, if you find the desire to read “Us Against You”, try picking up “Beartown” first and enjoy the chaotically frustrating and hopeful community of Beartown.

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Change of Blog Name

Don’t ask what drove me to do it, but I was in the mood for the bit of change.

Don’t be alarmed, as you may have noticed that I have changed this blog’s name from The Opaque to Book Nook Canuck. I have been thinking about changing the name for a while, and the inspiration struck me today with a new name that I like much better. I feel like it better represents what I am trying to deliver on this site as well as who I am as a person. I would love to hear everyone’s opinion (if you have one of course) about the change in the comments below!

Thank you for subscribing and following me on my journal of reading!

Sincerely,

Newly dubbed Book Nook Canuck.