In preparation of the third book in the series coming out on September 27th, we’re going to take a dive into Fredrik Backman’s “Beartown,” a relevant novel for today’s times. It is the first book in the “Beartown” series, which I consider to be one of the better adult series written in the 21st century.
Can a town have a feeling? Until I read this book, towns were just settings, places where the action took place. There have been novels in the past that were able to give a certain type of feeling to places. Infamous towns Derry and Jerusalem’s Lot or the legendary places of Hogwarts and Mordor are great examples of this.
However, “Beartown” is not a place of magic or horror. It is simply a small town that loves hockey. Out of this branches a story full of prejudice and depression, surprising in the midst of the common “small town charm” stereotype.
The story takes place in the fictional town of Beartown, Sweden. Hockey is not only the favorite sport of the town, it is basically a religion to the townsfolk. The high school team just reached the national semifinals for the first time in almost two decades, and Beartown residents are excited. The team, led by young star Kevin Erdahl and his reliable number two Benji Ovich, are amazing. Everything is possible with young Kevin under center.
After an emphatic win in the semis, Kevin throws a party at his house to celebrate the team’s finals berth. During the party, a horrific incident takes place, changing the dynamic of the town and the life of Maya Andersson, the daughter of hockey team’s general manager, Peter.
Even at the beginning of the book, the feeling the town gave through Backman’s writing is eerie, which is such a difficult sensation to convey through words. As the story progresses, the sense of eeriness and desolation grows stronger, an example of great writing style.
Not only is the writing beautiful, but the main characters are fleshed out and dynamic. Characters like Maya, Benji, Peter, and Kira Andersson and Maya’s mother all show the growth of characters through conflict. The change is realistic and emotional, drawing to the fact that the book is indeed character driven. Any doubt of that is erased when the complexity and personality of the protagonists and antagonists come into play. The only trouble with the writing is the number of perspectives it switches through, sometimes making it difficult to follow along.
“Beartown” is a book full of desolation and melancholy with shades of hope running through it. There is no clear weakness in the writing, besides the multiple points of view.
“Reams and Reels,” written by Cade Smucker, dives into the intersection between books and movies. Reviewing books one week and movies the next, Sumcker analyzes the newest works of fiction on the market, telling you which are worth your time, and which are not.