Title: The Winners
(Beartown #3)

Author: Fredrik Backman
Translator: Neil Smith
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 6th 2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK 
Finished reading: August 26th 2022
Pages: 688 
(Originally published in Swedish: ‘Vinnarna’)

“This hurts too much to touch with words.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Simon & Schuster UK in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***


WARNING: unpopular opinion ahead!!

I still can’t believe this actually happened. I mean, I LOVE everything Fredrik Backman writes, and I have several of his titles on my list of all time favorites. While the Beartown series hasn’t been among my absolute favorites, I did love the second book more than the first. I didn’t realize that there was going to be a third book to be honest, but of course I wasn’t going to be able to resist a new book by one of my absolute favorite authors. I was SO excited to have The Winners appear on my kindle, and I literally dropped everything to start reading it straight away. Not even the whopping almost 700 pages could deter me… But somehow I ended up having mixed thoughts instead. Trust me, this is something I still cannot wrap my head around myself either!

I’m starting to think that this is one of those series that should have been left alone. True, the sequel did work better for me than the first book, but Us Against You had a solid ending and the fact that I never expected a third book says it all. It’s hard to keep up with the magic of the first two Beartown books, and I personally ended up feeling that that special spark was missing in The Winners. It’s not a bad read (it’s Backman we are talking about after all) and I still love his writing style and way of wording things. His style is easy to recognize and I basically knew that I was reading another of his books immediately… But somehow it wasn’t enough for me this time around. I’ll try to explain briefly what didn’t work for me.

One of my main issues is the fact that The Winners is simply way overlong, and as a consequence the pace itself is extremely slow. It felt like the author wanted to show every little detail about the lives of just about every single character, and it made the story surprisingly slow and tedious to read. Not that I didn’t like the new characters, and I understand what their role is in the plot, but still… I did think that a lot of the already known characters lost their spark a little, and as a consequence I wasn’t as invested what happened to them. I mean, I basically went through a box of tissues with the second book, but I didn’t even cry once while reading The Winners (and trust me, there are plenty moments that would fit the bill). It might just be because I’ve been in a strange reading mood lately, but still.

I also wasn’t a fan of the constant character and POV hopping. I don’t mind multiple POVs and it’s a great way to see things from different perspectives, but somehow in The Winners it was just too much for me and especially when it happens a lot WITHIN the same chapter. Spending more time with each character at a time makes it a lot easier to stay invested in them… It’s true that we already know most of them from the previous books, but still. Another thing that bothered me was the constant repetition of past events; for example with what happened to Maya in the first book. It became really tedious to see the whole ‘scandal’ mentioned over and over again… Not to mention it slowed down the pace even more. The same goes for the importance of hockey, how much Hed and Beartown hate each other etc. etc.

As a whole, against all expectations I ended up having mixed thoughts about The Winners. I still love his writing and he is still one of my favorite authors, but I do hope he will leave the Beartown series alone in the future. Reactions have been mainly positive so far though, so it’s probably just me who is the problem; I blame my recent fickle reading mood.

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