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Publisher's Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Us Against You by Fredik Backman, read by John Sackville. 

A small, broken town sits on the edge of a frozen lake surrounded by a forest, its wounds still raw from a tragedy that tore its fragile community in two.

Beartown has lost its way. Now the cold and dark that surround the snowbound town creep in, and so do new conflicts and tensions. What was once a friendly rivalry with the neighbouring town is beginning to turn sinister and Beartown braces itself for another tragic blow.

How far will the people of Beartown go to preserve their reputations for a second, deadly time?

Us Against You is a spell-binding exposition of small-town life in all its flawed complexity.

©2018 Fredrik Backman (P)2018 Penguin Books Ltd

What listeners say about Us Against You

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A Cherry tree blossoms

It wasn't good.. It was the best. Like it was supposed to..
And sackville, you 'Manda'.. Thank you..

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A good follow up to Beartown

Frederick Blackman has the ability to draw you in and keep you curious of what's to follow. The story is good, and the narration is very good as well.
It's a good listen if you liked the original "Beartown"

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Heart Touching story

A great sequel to an awesome book. The author has managed to create magic with his style of writing. The quote "Morality is Luxury" will stay with me for a long time.

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Excellent

Love this author. have read Beartown and Anxious People and now this one, really really Loved all 3

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Slow start, but pulls you in

Like most of Backman's books, this one starts slow and plodding, but it is very definitely worth sticking with.

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Beartown and hockey is all I can think about

the narration was amazing, I did not want to stop listening at any time. Really loved it,the story, the characters, everything about this audiobook. if you like stories of small towns and imperfect people getting through the day, one sip of coffee at a time- this is for you.

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  • Silvia Viidik
  • 05-10-22

Amazing book

It’s an amazing book - so much inner thinking and human justification and deeds with harsh consequences. Such mature approach by the author- I really really liked it! Describing the psychological traits in mesmerizing detail. How human feel and sct, how they love, hate, grieve, forgive and continue living. Thank you!

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  • Vassilevskai
  • 12-02-19

First part was excellent but this one was better

Great book, lot more emotions then in first part. Story is compelling and keeps you tangled not allowing you to stop listening. At times I really struggled to stop reading. Highly recommended.

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  • soretha
  • 09-09-18

Loved it...

As always, amazing book and performance! Would recommend it to anyone looking for a real story...

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  • Linda Hrönn Eggertsdóttir
  • 05-08-18

Grate book, grate author. My favorite

Amazing book, so full of motions and descriptions of human nature. Would recommend everyone to read his books




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  • Jesutofunmi Mojeed
  • 25-07-18

In Awe of This Man

Never has a book made me shed so many tears, in so many public places.
I am in awe of how Frederick Backman writes.
How he’s able to make you feel things you didn’t know you were capable of feeling.

Thank you for this book, so timely. We all needed it.

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  • Dans.
  • 20-07-18

He always makes me cry

About 3/4 of the way through I thought, I love this, but not as much as Bear Town. But oh, the ending had left a big lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. And I just was Benji to be a real person. Because how can you not love Benji?

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  • Ms B. Fonay
  • 22-01-19

Outstanding

Incredible sequel to Beartown. Fredrik Backman is an outstanding writer. The depth of compassion and thoroughness he approaches these big issues with is mindblowing.
These books explore masculinity, in view of toxic masculinity. But there is nothing black and white here though. First book explored it more from the feminine viewpoint (and despite being a male writer he did 110%justice to it), second explored it more from the male point of view.
I have cried like never before while listening - my heart broke over and over in the most beautiful way. Catharsis is rarely reached by reading, but God knows these two made it happen.

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  • Amazonian
  • 19-04-22

Incredible book, better than the first one

It took me a while to get into the first book, 'Beartown' but it set the scene very well for 'Us Against You', which I actually enjoyed far more. The themes of heartbreak, loyalty, family, violence, love and grief are explored in more powerfully emotional ways in this novel compared with 'Beartown'. I found myself far more deeply invested in the plot of 'Us Against You' since I knew the characters' history from book one.

This time the plot is rather more gangland and a few of the political figures seem cardboard and uninteresting. By contrast, the thug figures are far more subtly drawn, and mob boss Teemu Rinnius is particularly sympathetic. It is the family dynamics that Backman sketches most skilfully and form the emotional girth of the story.

Like the first book, the cast of characters is wide and the scope of interlocking plot threads is ambitious. However, the story feels carefully edited so as not to waste pace on storylines that don't matter. Backman ensures we care about every life we zoom into, from the overweight depressed foreign kid to the grumpy old man in the pub. That said, there does seem to be rather too many exceptionally talented kids in one single town and this idealism bleeds at the edges of the tale. We never really get away from a rainbow gleaming worldview where good always wins over evil. All the same, this lends a pervading sense of hope to the reader's ravaged heart by the end of the novel (Blackman can't resist killing off a few more characters in this book and the emotional turmoil is intense). Overall, 'Us Against You' is an exceptionally well crafted set of narratives with the childhood nostalgia of Stephen King ('It') and the blood-soaked grit of Malorie Blackman ('Noughts and Crosses').

As far as narrative tone goes, we quickly become accustomed to deep and thought provoking questions opening virtually every chapter. Not all of these are really explored to their fullest or followed up completely, but they certainly evoke a serious emotional tone even if the structure is a little repetitive. I personally enjoyed this style of storytelling, as the narrator directly challenges the reader to reflect on the meaning of very large existential questions. It acknowledges the spiritual complexity of the reader, and involves us in our own psychological creation, even as the text creates the psychological characters around us.

When someone told me 'Beartown' was a psychological novel, I instinctively disagreed as I felt it was mostly consisted of plot action and speech. Yet 'Us Against You' absolutely fits this description, as greater care is taken to depict the cast's memories, motivations and moments of passion. Even though some plot moments are fairly dramatic, it never steers into melodrama and all the novel's interest remains in the reactions of the emotionally-driven personae around each material event.

When it comes to language, this sequel is far more emotionally rich than its predecessor. The metaphors are more intelligent, more careful, and their echo lasts longer in the mind:

"Grief is a wild animal that drags us so far out into the darkness that we can’t imagine ever getting home again."

On first reading, this wild animal is a deceptively simple image; the story takes place in a forest, why wouldn't we see wild animals? Yet the dreadful vagueness of "animal" as opposed to any specific beast reminds us of the dull dread all humans go through in bereavement. The symbol of the bear takes on more meaning in this novel than the first; the death of a family member as a pain that never departs, always growls.

Backman's poetic voice has matured and we even enjoy momentary glimpses of Maya's lyricism that we didn't get to see in 'Beartown':

"I wish you courage
I wish you rushing blood
A heart that beats too hard
Feelings that make everything too hard
Love that gets out of control
The most intense adventures
I hope you find your way out
I hope you’re the kind of person
Who gets a happy ending."

This poem/song contains all the soulfelt abandon of a teenage girl unafraid to show all the colours of her creative love. Choosing to share with the reader a scrap of Maya's unfiltered expression is a startlingly refreshing moment of connection for the reader. We have spent much of this novel (and the first) unable to see Maya clearly or hear her directly, drowned out as she often is by the rage, hatred and pride of those around her.

By the end of the novel, the narrative bearly touches on describing hockey matches because focus is fully absorbed in the emotional struggles of being human. For a small town culture of woodland masculinity, pervasive alcoholism and bruised children, the setting is surprisingly relatable for the average non-Swedish urban reader. When alcohol-drowned loneliness hangs such dark clouds hanging over the heads of Beartown children, the reader can forgive overtones of somewhat fanciful idealism. Given all that Backman puts his characters through, our hearts remain just about intact when unlikely plot points of redemption surface. While 'Beartown' was not shy of depicting the punishing PTSD arising from rape, 'Us Against You' was decidedly more hopeful about the prospects of a rosie friendship between a hardened criminal and a gay hockey player.

Perhaps the natural liberal inclinations of young people really are a redemptive force of society or maybe the author just felt he'd put the readers through enough violence at last. Either way, such strong rays of hope as these left the reader feeling able to walk away thinking "I enjoyed that book" rather than "society is broken and I am dead inside". And we all needed that, truly.

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  • Lucy Thorpe
  • 19-01-22

Worthwhile Sequel

This sequel to Beartown doesn’t disappoint - Fredrick Backman’s detached descriptive style ensures the emotional storylines pack a punch. The audio performance is also top notch - highly recommend if you want a relatively easy listen which is none the less thought provoking.

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  • wilmahatfit
  • 18-01-22

Brilliant

Complex, insightful, not always an easy listen but well worth it. I loved A Man Called Ove. This is very different but I won't stop now until I've tracked down all his books

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 23-11-21

Engaging from start to finish

Enjoyed both books in series. Well written and very different storyline with inciteful narrative and thought provoking issues

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  • Ewelina Poborska
  • 15-12-20

What a wonderful book

Absolutely wonderful story, both in part 1 & 2 and a great narration. Didn’t want it to end. I’ve learnt some new things about ice hockey as well. Would 100% recommend it!

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  • KvZ
  • 05-09-19

It's not about ice hockey... and it is.

Loved this.
I love all Backman's books - I laugh out loud, I tear up and I feel my heart tightening when something bad is coming. I also feel my heart soar when characters reach out and just be... human.
Translation and narration are amazing. The accents the narrator uses are spot on. I'm Scottish so I can't ID the area of England he's doing but, in my head, I see an old working class town with a miners' club, a war memorial, a council floral display, and a lot of post-war terraced housing, some of it tidy and proud, some of it neglected and worn.

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  • PT
  • 16-08-19

part 2 of Beartown

some repetition of events required in case you didn't read Beartown ( which is slightly annoying if you did) but enjoyable story nonetheless . not quite as good as the original but better than most part 2 stories/films

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  • Cazza
  • 13-08-19

Excellent sequal

Loved every minute. Backman is a genius when it comes to writing characters you really care about.

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  • Farah S
  • 01-07-19

An apt and fitting sequel

Really enjoyed this second part of Bear Town's obsession with ice hockey. I don't even really like ice hockey but I lived the portrayal of male bonds superceding all other familial and friendship ties. I have come to empathise with the plights of small towns and most importantly, the portrayal of parents trying to protect their children - an almost impossible task. Beautifully read too!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-07-18

Gritty but powerful

The characters are so imperfectly real that they draw you into the story and provoke strong reactions in the reader. Nothing is black and white and the complexities of small town life are captured perfectly.

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  • Skye
  • 31-01-19

Excellent

So so good, a great listen. Not the happiest of stories, but then we don't always get a happy ending in life and Beartown embraces its flaws and celebrates its successes, as we all should.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jane K
  • 25-11-18

If I could give it 6 stars I would

I cried and laughed and my heart ached when I listened to this sequel. Backman touches the reader’s soul like nobody can. It’s one of those books that will stay with you forever. Simply amazing writing which finished way too soon.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-08-22

Brilliant

I felt so passionate listening to this story. I was perplexed, amused, frustrated, intrigued, challenged and more. Backman's writing draws you in and does not let you go. what a roller-coaster of emotion with so many powerful moments. I will most certainly listen again.

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  • Anakin
  • 07-05-22

Waiting in anticipation for the next installment

It was not as powerful as the first but I'm hooked on these characters so for that reason I'm looking forward to part 3.

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  • Hamed
  • 26-02-22

It touched my soul

Fredrik holds a mirror to you and makes you watch the deepest darkest parts of your concious. He makes you feel sad, happy, proud, vulnerable and simply human.
It takes his magnifier glasses to open your eyes to how complicated yet simple people and societies are and how we are all so different yet so alike.
can't wait to read more books from him.

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  • Naomi P.
  • 23-12-21

Captivating characters

A story, characters and place that stay with you.

heartbreaking and life affirming.

Highly recommend

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-06-21

Wish it would never end.

I absolutely loved this audiobook.
I fell in love with Beartown, the people and the place.
Beautifully written and performed. I truly wish it wouldn't end, though even the ending was just right.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 30-11-20

Wonderful sequel.

The anticipation for the 3rd book in the series is very high! I couldn't stop listening and the twists and turns kept me on my toes.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 02-10-18

Anotherv wonderful story

Fredrik Backman writes such wonderful works. This one is no exception. So many moments of breathtakingly beautiful human interaction amid an engaging narrative. A balm for a tired heart. Great performance by John Sackville. Thanks to you both.