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Ronald E. Dines
4.0 out of 5 starsSequel to Beartown
Reviewed in Canada on April 16, 2019
Just another very good read by a great author who now has had a series of winners. If you've already read one of his books, I can guarantee you'll like this one. While it is a stand alone. I think it works best if you've read Beartown first.
5.0 out of 5 starsHockey... it’s more than just a game.
Reviewed in Canada on January 21, 2019
This book, the sequel to the excellent, Beartown, is exceptional! It makes some profound statements about human nature and about the role of sports in our lives. “Us Against You” made me laugh out loud and it made me cry. The author weaves the story of many different characters together and makes you care about all of them. I highly recommend this book.
Thank you to the author.Thank you. Thank you. This is a work of art. Like a beautiful, terrible painting. I stopped reading half way as I was upset with the violence.Ilost my youngest son a little over a year ago. This story has helped me. What more could I ask?
This author has a very different and interesting writing style. The subjects he tackles are normal and yet have a way of surprising. This book stirs a lot of emotions and i had to put it down a few times. Recommended for readers who read a lot and are looking for something different.
5.0 out of 5 starsSequel to Beartown is a must read
Reviewed in Canada on November 17, 2020
Once again like Beartown the characters are come alive individuals who have a story to tell. Who have feelings, struggles, worries and joys in their lives. A great sequel and follow up ending to Beartown. Loved it.
5.0 out of 5 starsA book about hockey - but not really.
Reviewed in Canada on September 20, 2018
Fredric Bachman is my new favourite author!! Rich prose and imagery. It’s the sequel to Beartown - a hockey town. Bachman writes about the complexities of life through the eyes of a small town invested in hockey. This is my 3rd foray into bachman’s work. Highly recommend!!
Us Against You is sometimes moving and quite heartbreaking. At times it managed to leave a smile on my face, other times I had a massive lump in my throat. The story is always realistic, its characters believable while constantly showing the worst and the best side of mankind, making it incredibly thought-provoking and also hopeful.
Fredrik Backman is a wonderful storyteller. It almost feels as if you’re sitting in a pub with someone who’s telling you the story of Beartown and I once again became utterly invested in the lives of these characters, hurting with them and rooting for them. They wormed their way into my heart from the start and I won’t be forgetting any of them in a hurry.
Beautifully written and incredibly captivating, Us Against You is as much of a gem as Beartown/The Scandal is and it has caused another massive book hangover. I’m quietly hoping for a third instalment in this series. There are more stories to tell, I’m sure, but quite frankly, I’d take any excuse to return to Beartown.
4.0 out of 5 starsExcellently and tightly crafted novel
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 6, 2019
I suspect my main issue with this book is that it isn't Beartown. Beartown won a special place in my heart and little if anything was ever going to be able to rival it for my affections. Us Against You makes a reasonable attempt, but falls just that little bit short of the target set by its predecessor. This is undoubtedly beautifully written and stunningly translated, but it didn't quite hold me in the same way that Beartown did. It can't be the characters, for although all of the previous favourites return for this sequel there are some new characters that take your breath away. Aspects of the last book that were touched on are developed and expanded, with the black jackets being of particular importance, but by no means are they the only ones.
As with his previous novel however, Backman touches on so many issues that are hidden within a commmunity; both the large and the small, the good and the bad. He has a way with words and sometimes his words really do just take your breath away. Sometimes I found myself re-reading a paragraph for exactly that reason. And at the finale, he knows how to use those same words to break your heart into a thousand pieces. Backman's writing makes most other authors look clumsy in comparison and his characterisations can make you weep.
But it still didn't quite hit the pinacle of Beartown and there's possibly a couple of reasons for that. Firstly, the tone is far less innocent I suppose. Whereas Beartown is all surrounded by individuals actions and the way they can spiral a situation out of control, Us Against You is just as heavily based on one mans ability to manipulate a series of situations and a variety of people. All of the events were far more calculated and whilst that made for a good read, it didn't make for the spell-binding read that Beartown was. Beartown didn't need a single individual's meddling fingers to keep the events spiralling... this did, and that detracted from the tone of the novel quite a bit for me.
I also found the constant active foretelling of something dark on the horizon to be somewhat tedious after a while, particularly when everything is so slowly paced. Whereas with Beartown you get build up and repurcussions in almost equal proportion with the events spiralling out of control somewhere in the middle, here it is nearly all build up. It's well written build up and it showcases the characters beautifully, but it's missing something. And when I hit the finale, I won't deny that I cried, but somehow I can't help but feel that the book wasn't quite balanced as perfectly as Beartown.
But at the same time, this still reflects some of the greatest lights within humanity at the same time as it shines a glow on some of the darkest. It is still beautifully written with passages that will haunt me for long to come. It is still a novel about humanity; about loss and love, marriage and belonging, community and hatred. It still has those astonishing nuances and interlinking characters, with stories that spill over unwillingly into others lives. It's still a story about ice hockey and it is still so much more than that. Is it Beartown? No, not quite. Is it worth something in and of itself however? Yes, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 10, 2021
I loved the Beartown book, so was confident that I would enjoy this too. Once again its so compelling and I was immediately drawn into Beartown and Backman really draws you in to the community. Once more, I felt that I lived and had grown up in this town. The writing is beautiful and there is so much heart and emotion. It really is special.
This book focused less on the hockey and more on the people. I think 'Beartown' had a greater balance and ultimately a more believable story. I felt that the author wanted to develop the stories of the people of Beartown but may have been better served doing a few more books as this one has such a lot going on and it felt a bit busy at times.
The writing is incredible and teh charcaters are brilliant. I can really pay the book and the author no greater compliment than to say that despite being based in the North of England that 'WE ARE THE BEARS FROM BEARTOWN
Picked up Beartown NOT REALISING ICE HOCKEY was the central hook - can’t stand ‘sport’ in films, novels, whatever - and so please I didn’t... because Beartown moved, enthralled, saddened, moved, elated.. & so ordered Us vs You immediately on finishing and.. OMG!! This guy knows how to push all the emotional buttons: with force, clarity, subtlety and such pure humanity.. could hardly finish through the sobs, tears, & choking up: will stay with me for a long long time
4.0 out of 5 starsWonderful writer, powerful and heart-breaking
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 15, 2021
It is a rare thing in an author to make me care so passionately about a group of characters and the town that they live in, but Backman has achieved this beautifully.
Without a doubt, my favourite character is Benji. Benji is violent, stubborn, and deeply flawed and is the moral, destructive compass of the book. My fellow readers agreed and throughout the book I found myself chanting 'Not Benji, Not Benji, Not Benji' like some Yoga mantra. Benji is the heart of this book and the violence meted out on him is hard to read at times.
But even the other characters are human, flawed and fully rounded - a vicious gossip who will always quietly cook food for anyone who dealing with a bereavement; a taciturn father who will read the Harry Potter stories to his children at night as he learns to live without his wife; a grizzled bar-owner who is the town's mother and a boy with impulse control who just wants to play hockey and is tentatively embarking on his first relationship. The characters are not good or bad, there are no 'black hats or white hats' here. These are deeply human, deeply flawed but all with a core of humanity. They could be one of us, our friends, family or neighbours.
Backman, just as in Beartown writes beautiful, strong women; Ramona, Maya, Ana and Benji's 3 wonderful Sisters. All working to stay alive, survivors. I believed in every single one of them.
Let me talk about 'The Pack' - a group of Beartown Hockey's toughest supporters, violent and yet all brothers in arms, they stood up for Maya and her father, Peter after the events of the previous book. The hate the rival town of Hed and its hockey team and this spills into a wider conflict - a fight for jobs and economic recovery. All stage-managed by puppet-master Richard Theo.
The writing about relationships is beautiful and sensitive. Peter and Kira are struggling and this is all depicted with the metaphor of 2 wine-glasses turning into a single glass. Both craving a moment to sit and just be with each other, but pulled apart by events, and dealing with those on their own.
This is a novel about the power of sport, how sport and rivalry can spill into violence and hatred. But ultimately how it can unite and bring love through a shared love of the sport. I defy you not to have a tear in your eye when one team and its supporters, truly broken are uplifted and supported by their greatest rivals.
Throughout there is a sense of dread with this novel. I found myself waiting for a punch that I knew was coming. I was truly reading with a heavy load on my back and there was relief in the release. It's hard, yet beautiful.
I'm awarding this book 4.75 stars. It nearly was another 5 Star read, but at the start I felt that the first few chapters needed to settle into itself. It is a measure of how good the author is, that I have come to expect only perfection. Also, there was relatively little of another of my favourite characters Amat, and his dignified mother, who I adored in this previous book, but this is really nit-picking now.
The rest of the novel is wonderful, awful, emotional and terrifying all at the same time. I loved this and it was an excellent and suitable follow-up to Beartown.