Us Against You by Fredrik Backman book review

If you’ve ever read any of my Fredrik Backman reviews before, you’ll know that he’s solidly one of my favourite writers. He has an incredible ability to write almost poetic books that balance humour and serious topics so perfectly. Us Against You is the second book in the Beartown trilogy, picking up almost directly after the first book with the town in trouble after a huge incident caused so many problems in the previous book.

us against you by fredrik Blackman being held by me in front of a bookshelf. I'm wearing a black top and a black hat and I'm smiling. The bottom reads: book review.

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If you haven’t yet read my review of Beartown, it may be worth doing that first as it’s the first in the series and you’ll be able to better grasp my opinion on the series as this second one feels very similar.

As I said, Us Against You picks up straight after the events of the first book with the people of Beartown reeling after a devastating event means their beloved hockey team which the whole team seems to revolve around is on the brink of collapse. However, when some people come together and look to revive the club, things may be looking up.

Us Against You plot – 4.25/5

I think I stated something similar in my review of Beartown that Us Against You tells a very interesting story. If you’re hoping for some adventure epic then this is about as far away from that as you’re going to get.

Backman tells the story in a very passive way with not a lot of dialogue often happening, instead opting to narrate the actions and thoughts of the townspeople as well as the reactions they have to everything.

Often this sort of storytelling can put me off as it means I struggle to immerse myself in the world. However, Backman has managed to write it in such an engaging and almost poetic way that you feel like you’re constantly reading something that’s leading to something else.

The whole book always feels like there’s tension and that something larger is building. There are no large plot twists but there are big moments in the plot that will feel emotive about characters, whether it’s positive or negative.

Us Against You characters – 4.75/5

Now this is where Fredrik Backman is almost unmatched in my opinion. It’s no secret that for a book to make me feel any sort of emotion, I’ve got to give a damn about the characters I’m supposed to be feeling emotive about.

Us Against You continues Bachman’s incredible tradition of writing complex and deeply loveable characters. There’s barely anyone in Us Against You who’s wholeheartedly “nice”. Yes, you have the nice characters who are polite and kind where possible but they’ve all got some deeper backstory or make mistakes as they go along.

Benji continues to be my favourite character as the dark and defensive young man who is coming to terms with the fact he’s gay. His identity is a huge element of the book that Backman isn’t afraid to skirt around – and he doesn’t pretend it’s an easy process, especially in a town like Beartown.

I noted that no one in the book is wholeheartedly “nice” and on the other foot, no one is wholeheartedly “nasty” either. Even the characters who are deemed to be the worst have a reason, have a story, have an apology. It’s brilliant. Well done Backman.

Us Against You final rating – 4.5/5

When writing a sequel to a book that was so loved for being unique, dark and full of emotion, it’s hard to replicate that. Us Against You absolutely nails it. The tone of the book is the exact same as the first, the pacing is nearly identical and the characters we learned to love from the previous book are accompanied by new characters we learn to equally love. Backman continues to hold himself onto the top of my authors list. He just doesn’t miss for me.

Pick up a copy of Us Against You here.

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