Us Against You
I loved Beartown and read it a year ago. I hesitated reading it's sequel, Us Against You, because I often find that the sequel is never as good as the first. Sadly, I found this to be true for this series, but nonetheless, I am happy I read it to finish out the story of Beartown and it's residents that I grew so fond of. (I have a huge book crush on Benji and went into this book hoping that he finds the love he has been looking for.)
Us Against You picks up where Beartown left off. The small, forest town is coming down the horrendous sexual assault perpetrated by the hockey team's star player. Allegiances have been made, lines have been drawn, and Beartown is even more at odds with the neighboring city, Hed. You can cut the tension with a knife. Beartown's hockey team is holding on by a thread until a mystery sponsor steps in to save the club. The sponsor brings with them a new coach who has interesting ideas on how to get the A team up and running. Meanwhile, the residents of Beartown are trying to learn how to live after the past events and how to keep hockey front and center.
The first half of the book was alright, but the second half redeemed it. The first half introduced new characters and brought in politics that was slightly convoluted. It drowned out the endearing characters from Beartown; Benji, Amat, Maya, Ana, and Bobo. Their stories did not come to the forefront for awhile. Once they did, I became much more invested in the book. In the Beartown series, Backman is known for his foreshadowing. While, I enjoy aspects of the foreshadowing, some of it was repetitive and out of context.
The ending of Us Against You gave some closure to the town's story and brought the book from a potential 3.5/5 to a 4/5 for me. I am glad I read it because there were cliffhangers in Beartown that were addressed in Us Against You. I also love a good literary fiction book and Backman is so good at indirectly writing about tough topics. If you were a fan of Beartown, I encourage you to finish the series and read Us Against You. I also want you to have realistic expectations, it is not as good as the first book, which sequels rarely are, but you will get closure for some of your favorite characters.