“They’re adults now. For some girls that isn’t something you choose. It’s something that gets forced upon you.”
As you all know by now, Beartown was my favorite book last year (you can read my review HERE). I was and still am completely in love with it. So when I heard that there was a sequel coming out, I was thrilled, but also exasperated that I had to wait so long for it. Thus came a really dark period in my life when I was obsessively checking Netgalley EVERY SINGLE DAY to see if a review copy was available. And then it hit Netgalley US and I could only wish for it. And then I got real mad. Because if you want a reviewer to rave about that book, I am that reviewer. Why are you limiting me? Anyways, I decided to write to the publisher directly and they provided me with the eARC. Through NetGalley none the less. Thank you so much, Atria Publishing, I am forever grateful.
So I got the book and it was different than the first one. But just as amazing.
I am so surprised by how masterful of a writer Backman is. He is the master of the writing craft. I am the kind of reader who devours books, and doesn’t read for too long. If a book takes me too long to read, I am probably not enjoying it. I don’t savor reading that much. However. It took me a while to read this, because I was reading every sentence ever so carefully. Each sentence, each word of this book seems like it was put there on purpose, like the author thought long and hard about each of them. So I spent my time with this, and I loved it. Backman is so good at choosing the words that will elicit the hardest impact. And did they ever.
This book was different to the first one in tone and in emotional coloring, but also because the town felt more alive here. It felt like a separate entity, in and of itself. It’s a character of its own, more than the sum of the rest of the characters. I love how it was handled and described. Backman uses the concept of the collective mind so well, and manages to transfer it perfectly to the page. I love small town stories, and Backman’s way of writing them is exactly what I love about them. The town has to feel alive. And Beartown always does.
I really appreciate nuance in everything I read. I like morally grey characters, I like not really knowing what’s good or evil, even if I know what’s right or wrong. It’s a tricky thing to nail, but Backman does it so well. There are a lot of characters in here who don’t know right from wrong. But they are not evil. And vice versa. There’s nuance in all of the events and characters of this story and I am someone who deeply appreciates that.
I think series or sequels in general fiction are tough to do. You sort of get a rounded out story in the first book and sometimes authors tend to just recycle ideas from the first book. This didn’t happen here. The story moves on from the events of the first book, but still stays deeply grounded in them. We get different problems and different plot lines, but they all stem from the ones in the first book, and they are just as connected as they should be. I absolutely loved that.
I adore politics. I think it shapes our lives so much, whether or not we like to acknowledge that. Everything revolves around politics and money and power, and a lot of the time, people suffer for it. Backman does that really well. Politics plays a big role in Us Against You and it brings this whole other layer to the story, and adds the nuance I was talking about. And it unravels the lives of these characters, as politics often do.
As I’ve said in my Beartown review, Backman just gets it. He understands people and he understands life, and he transfers that to the page. All of these characters felt so real and tangible to me, and all of their problems and the way they dealt with them felt so real. I could understand each and every character and I could understand their actions perfectly. They were all very different and still. I got all of them. That’s not an easy feat.
And finally, there was a lot of talk recently about male writers writing female characters, and how they handle it poorly. I will say that Backman wrote one of my favorite female characters ever. So it’s doable if you’re not a prick. And that’s all I am saying.
I loved this just as much as the first one. If you want gorgeous writing and people dealing with real problems, and characters you can adore – Us Against You (and Beartown too, obviously) is a book for you. I highly recommend it.
Final verdict: 5 stars
Let me know how you liked the review! I’d also love to know if you’ve read Beartown or Us Against you! Did you love it as much as I did? Let me know!
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