Us Against You by Fredrik Backman is the sequel to Beartown. I read Beartown a few months ago and had a complicated reading relationship with it. The writing style really annoyed me at first (Backman loves using foreshadowing which I found very distracting as a reader). But by the end of the book I had gotten over this and fell in love with the story. So, I entered into reading Us Against You prepared for it to take a little while to get into the story. Luckily, it didn’t take too long as I was already acquainted with the many characters and their respective story lines.
Like in Beartown, Us Against You is all about a small Swedish town that is obsessed with ice hockey. The town and its occupants are still struggling with the fall-out of events that occurred in the first book. This book starts right in the thick of that fall-out and follows the points-of-views of many townspeople – from teen hockey player and rebel Benji to general manager of the Beartown hockey club Peter and his wife and two children.
It’s difficult to say much about the plot without giving away the Beartown storyline. You really need to read that book first before reading this one. Unlike Beartown, Us Against You is less about actually playing hockey and more about the politics behind it and how it affects different people in the community. I’m not a huge sporting fan but I missed there not being as many hockey games in this book as in the first. I found the writing better and not as challenging, but this book just didn’t have the same magic as Beartown. I felt like the narrative wasn’t as compelling or emotional.
There’s a lot going on in Us Against You. It’s a story of family relationships, team dynamics, sporting rivalries, coping with tragedy, growing up, politics and sport and so much more. I enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to everyone, but I did prefer Beartown. I just didn’t feel as connected to the characters this time around.
Verdict: A solid, must-read sequel to Beartown.