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No hockey in BEARTOWN? It just cant be!
We all know hockey is an addiction in this small failing community....the only thing really, except for snow, icy roads and a thick (sometimes dangerous) forest where one can hide....or discover secrets. Its still a hard life hereabouts....harder for some after the scandal....it affected so many....some took their revenge....others are still hurting....and some so burned with hatred, they now turn to violence.
In the sequel, US AGAINST YOU Fredrik Backman delves way down deep into the soul of many a character here revealing shortcomings and attributes, hopes and dreams, loves and losses, and, of course, a relationship with a town in which they are so proud....a hockey town that must survive....no matter what!
Backman, with his gift of gab, entices and teases the reader most deceptively at every turn in this second offering bringing forth many oh no it cant be moments for the reader as he describes burning buildings, lurking men in black jackets, heated confrontations and trickery from politicians that weigh heavy on some.
US AGAINST YOU (for me) was not as emotionally addictive as BEARTOWN. It was written in sort of a disjointed open-ended vein that often left me wanting to know now what was about to erupt. I also wanted to know exactly what happened to one character who left early on and another who takes off in the end....but perhaps that is a story for another time.
A great story....Yep! A worthwhile read....Absolutely! US AGAINST YOU has only left me wanting more Backman.
So..........do come back to BEARTOWN and visit your favorite characters (oh Benji)....see what some of them do (oh my) and how the new ones fit in (ha!) as BEARTOWN struggles for survival.
Many Thanks to Atria Books/Simon & Schuster for the widget and early reading opportunity to enjoy one of my favorite authors via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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!! NOW AVAILABLE !!
”In his final season, on his final night
Buddy and a Finn goon were pegged for a fight
Thirty seconds left, the puck took a roll
And suddenly Buddy had a shot on goal
“The goalie committed, Buddy picked his spot
Twenty years of waiting went into that shot
The fans jumped up, the Finn jumped too
And coldcocked Buddy on his follow through
The big man crumbled but he felt all right
Cause the last thing he saw
was the flashing red light
He saw that heavenly light
-- Hit Somebody!(The Hockey Song), Songwriters: Warren Zevon / Mitchell David Albom
”It’s going to be someone’s fault”
”Have you ever seen a town fall? Ours did. We’ll end up saying that violence came to Beartown this summer, but that will be a lie, the violence was already here. Because sometimes hating each other is so easy that it seems incomprehensible that we ever do anything else.”
There is no anonymity in Beartown for the people who live there. Everybody knows not only each other’s names, but also what they do, who their parents, or children, bosses, coworkers are, how many generations their families have lived there. They know who is trouble, and those who run the town. There is no hiding their flaws, their secrets, or the secret of who they really are. Not forever, anyway. People are born there, very few move away, but it is even more rare for someone to move to there.
Beartown is Hockey. The lives of those who reside there celebrate this, their lives revolve around it, the games, the practices, it is where they belong. Even the conflict between Beartown and Hed, the neighboring town that views Beartown as being inferior. A case of the haves vs the have-nots, but throw in some politicians with questionable motives and things threaten to become volatile. As the town sees its way of life – hockey - being threatened, as they come to terms with the possibility of their hometown hockey team being disbanded unless something changes, their fears and pain unravel for us to see.
And then, a potential new coach, a surprising choice, surely, and a new team will have to be formed, so many players lost to Hed, already. But will they be able to really form a team, bond together as they will need to do, in order to win?
If you’ve read Backman’s Beartown, then you’re familiar with this town, and most of the people who live there, but some new characters are introduced, as well. Peter and Kira Andersson, their children Maya, 16, and Leo, 12. Benji, who has some secrets to share, and Bobo and Amat, then there’s Ana who is best friends with Maya, and Vidar, who has a short fuse, but also a protective love of his brother, Teemu. The parents are struggling with their own problems and their children’s, and these young people, struggling to figure out who they are under all the expectations of the parents, the school and the town. Maybe they will eventually find out what they’re made of.
This wasn’t the kind of book where I instantly fell into the pages and was Calgon’d away, it crept up on me slowly, stealing a little bit more of my heart away as I read on, but I was still interested, just not living inside the story – yet – but soon enough I was wishing there were more pages ahead. I loved how introspective this was, how we learn the story of this town and the people through their thoughts and feelings, their frustrations, their concerns, the hurt and shame and anger some carry with them. I loved, love, this town and these people, loved their loyalty to this place and when it came down to it, their loyalty to each other. I hurt when they hurt, and rooted them on in their journeys.
”Bang. Bang. Bang-bang-bang.”
Pub Date: 05 JUN 2018
Many thanks for the ARC provided by Atria Books
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I can honestly say I can now die a happy person.
An emotional mess, yes. But happy nonetheless that I’ve finally read my long awaited book.
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Old characters reappear and new characters are introduced in this book, the follow-up to last years phenomenal hit, Beartown. Theres drama, marital difficulties, bullying, rivalries, political machinations, and heartbreak. This book may not have the impact of Beartown but fans will have much to enjoy with this new novel. Backman excels at insights into human nature and writing characters that are easy to care for.
The writing is beautiful with excellent character development. Many passages made me pause to savor his words. I didnt really care about the political maneuverings, which slowed the story down for me a bit, and I have a lot of difficulty understanding sports culture/rivalries. Even so, Backman delivers a poignant read that will satisfy his many fans.
*Publication date June 5, 2018
* I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
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Us Against You is an emotional rollercoaster with some of the best and worst storytelling elements on display. What I liked about the book is simple: it made me feel; it made me cry. What I didnt like about it is far more complicated, so lets discuss that in greater detail.
While I did love the characters in this book, I only think thats the case because I got to know them so well in the first book, Beartown, which I gave a glowing five-star review to. In Beartown, the book seemingly dragged for 60 pages while I got to know everyone, and then BAM, it all clicked, and I enjoyed the rest of the book. There was no click here. There was no moment when I felt everything came together. The entirety of the book felt like the first 60 pages of the first book.
(it was at this time he dropped his three stars to two stars)
Im being extremely hard on this book because it pissed me off numerous times. My problems lie in Backmans crazy notion that he should continuously break the fourth wall. We are constantly reminded, several times, Im talking more than six times, that this is a book, with lines like @This is not that kind of [email protected] or @This is not your average love [email protected] or @This is a such-and-such kind of [email protected] I found myself rolling my eyes and sighing like an angsty teenager while I growled, @Stop [email protected] When reading, I dont want to be reminded I am reading. Its one of the few hobbies I have left. Please let me enjoy some escapism, for fucks sake. Another reason I noticed it was because he didnt do it in the first book. If he did, he didnt do it nearly as often.
In Beartown, Backman hid the framework under characters you loved, hated, or both. The story was predictable, but only because it was stripped from the headlines of everyday life. That shit happens. All the time. With Us Against You, the framework is exposed, and Backmans the one who unveiled it. He gets into a habit of false foreshadowing (Im being real careful here because I dont want to spoil anything for you, should you want to read it and form your own opinion, which I recommend) where hell hint at a tragedy only to change the victim at the last second. He does that eight times in this book. How do I know the number? Because it was so obvious and annoying I started counting, which again reminded me I was just reading a book. He does it so often that it actually ruined what might have been an amazing twist at the end, but because hed pulled the ol bait-and-switch on me seven times previously, I knew what was coming.
The story is fine, and if theres a third book, Ill read it, but only because I cannot imagine where Backman will go from here, considering how this one ends.
In summation: Im super disappointed with Us Against You because I loved the first book so much. I still love the characters and the setting, but Backman needs to draw back and quit reminding the reader theyre reading a book. Once or twice? Fine. But more than six times? Fuggoff.
Final Judgment: Your average sequel that doesnt come close to living up to the original.
Many thanks to Atria Books for the review copy.
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