Book Reviews

The Winners (Beartown #3) by Fredrik Backman – Book Review

The book cover of The Winners (Beartown #3) by Fredrik Backman

Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))

The Winners (Beartown #3) – Book Details

TITLE – The Winners

SERIES – Beartown, book #3

AUTHOR – Fredrik Backman

GENREliterary fiction, contemporary, sports



MY RATING – 2.5 of 5


A huge thank you to Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss+ for providing me with an ARC of The Winners (Beartown #3) by Fredrik Backman in exchange for an honest review.

What It Is About

All the worst things we believe about each other can always be proved with a story we’ve heard from someone who heard it from someone else.

The Winners (Beartown #3) starts two years after the events from Us Against You. The Beartowners are… same as always. Always resisting, never quite moving on.

But a massive storm is about to change quite a few things for the residents of both Beartown and Hed. As always, there will be a lot of people willing to do all they can to help get things back on track… but also many of those looking to exploit the situation.

The Winners by Fredrik Backman is the third book and the conclusion to the Beartown series. It brings us back to the place and people we grew to love, introduces some new characters and follows them all as they are trying to find their place in the world.

The Winners by Fredrik Backman – My Spoiler-Free Review

Wow. Ok. I don’t even know where to start with this one.

It’s the last Beartown book, folks! We finally have the full story. And I haven’t finished a series in a while, I forgot how good it feels. But also – how much you don’t want the really good ones to end.

This feels a bit like the end of an era – only a few short years ago we had our first copies of Beartown in our hands, slowly realizing that book was about to change us in the most wonderful ways. And now the story ends.

And I really wish I wasn’t this conflicted about this final instalment.

When we first got the announcement about the 3rd Beartown book, it used to be called Those Who Run Towards Fire. I don’t know why they changed the title, I liked the old one better. But anyways.

The Winners is set two years after what happened in Us Against You. You can already conclude from my rating that this didn’t go as I hoped it would for me. But that’s not to say there weren’t great things about this book as well, so let’s start with those first.

She will sing that the place where she grew up is defined by tragedies, the ones that hit us, and the ones we were guilty of instigating. […] She will sing that all communities are the sum of their choices and that all that holds us together in the end are our stories.

The book starts with a huge life altering storm. And this is going to sound weird, but I actually really love natural catastrophe stories. In fact, it’s one of my favorite tropes.

I’m not a total weirdo. I guess they just make me grateful how safe and comfortable I am while reading them.

Anyways, when I realized Backman actually added that component to his usual writing and characters you love to death and then some… It was like he stole my heart again after only a couple of chapters.

It was also nice that we got to know some new characters. And just like the old ones, these were also lovable, relatable people you just wanted to hug on their bad day and tell them everything was going to be ok.

We also got a bit of a mystery. And I was quite impressed how everything wrapped up in the end. Many, many layers.

But the best part about this book for me was that feeling like going home. Going back to Beartown, to some of my most loved characters ever. Being reminded of everything they went through. That we went through with them.

I can’t even describe that feeling. I just love it so much.

…it feels like climbing trees, it feels like jumping in puddles, it feels like having one single person in your life who you don’t even want to play hide-and-seek with because you can’t bear being without him for a single minute.

The Winners had many brilliant moments. But also a couple that made me angry and sad. Unfortunately, in the end it just didn’t hit the mark for me.

For starters, the whole thing was just too messy. It was too long (almost 700 pages). Too repetitive. There was too much business, contracts, scheming and politics involved, which was not necessarily a bad thing, but I personally couldn’t have cared less.

There was too much unnecessary preparation for what was about to come, that started making me roll my eyes where no eye rolling was appropriate. It ultimately made the whole thing way less impactful than it could have been.

It’s actually all very typical for Backman – every time before when I was writing my raving reviews for Britt-Marie, and Beartown, and Anxious People, and And Every Morning…, I’ve also been reading not so flattering reviews from people who didn’t like his childish comparisons, and unnecessary eagerness to explain certain concepts, and most of all – the overpromising.

And it’s not that I didn’t see all that before, it’s just that I enjoyed those books so much, it never bothered me.

Well, it bothered me this time. I think I’ve finally reached the point with his writing where I’m tired of reading all the same things over and over again. I might still appreciate it in smaller doses. But also, after 7 books – enough was enough.

“That’s Beartown, right there. Almost best, almost all the time.”

But, the things I didn’t like the most about this book were unfortunately things I can’t even talk about here. A) because I’m trying to avoid spoilers. And b) I’m not even sure I want to go there, or that I could coherently express exactly what was it about it that bothered me so much.

Beartown was absolutely amazing. And Us Against You – I liked it a lot, but there were also quite a few things I had to overlook (which I happily did at the time).

The Winners – I was ready to forgive and forget quite a bit of what I didn’t like in the name of the good old times. But in the end, I felt wrought up and kind of pissed off. I started to agree with people who think Beartown should have stayed a standalone.

This was one of the hardest ever books for me to rate. I could have given it 4 stars; I could have given it less than 2. There were many things I enjoyed, but the parts that were disappointing managed to overshadow everything else.

As harsh as it sounds, I actually really wish I never read The Winners. Sorry, but honestly that’s how I feel right now.

My Signature

(8) Comments

  1. Bear Town is in a league of its own. It blew me away and will forever have my heart. It didn’t need a follow-up because it was just so perfect to me. Of course I read it, mostly because I was so invested in Benji, and I did like where it went. But did it need to be a trilogy? I was hesitant and now that I’ve read several not so positive reviews, including yours, I don’t really want to read it anymore. I don’t want to read endless repetition and annoying foreshadowing and plot twists that will ruin it for me. And that is sad, isn’t it. Maybe I’ll re-read Bear Town instead.

    1. I agree. Beartown was beyond words amazing, and Us Against You was really not bad, but it had a bit of the second book syndrome which I was willing to overlook because I hoped it would lead to something better. But then the third one was more of the same, and I’m done.

      I’m with you on the Beartown reread 🤩 I’ve actually been craving it for a while and I’m just waiting for a little bit of free time.

  2. Robbie says:

    I liked it. I’ve learned more about ice hockey than I ever wanted to know. A little sensational, but I was glad to read another of the Beartown series. Fun to know what happened to these beloved characters. Yes, some of the plot was predictable, but I love the pics he paints of the forest, of those who live there, thank you Backman for those stories.

    1. Glad you enjoyed your read, Robbie! ❤️️

  3. I’ve always thought Us Against You was the remnants the editor cut from Beartown. After finishing Winners, I feel all those scraps were gathered up and reused in this trilogy finale. My disappointment stems from having loved Beartown completely, and not realizing Backman always intended this to be a series which, in effect, requires all the repetition. Ex: The foreshadowing worked so well the first time, but was tiresome in the third installment.

    1. Well put, I agree 🙌

  4. Jim Black says:

    I, too, thought The Winners was much less than the series deserved. Preachy, slow, with the feeling that Backman wasn’t paying attention. I love this author, but this book not so much. The conclusion was a list of characters and a short explanation of their lives to follow. I’ll give Backman a rest and hope he takes a long vacation before he writes again. And when he does, please, more Britt Marie.

    1. Well, that sums it up. I’m also taking a break from his books for now.

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