‘The Scandal’ aka ‘Beartown’ by Fredrik Backman – Book Review

Blurb from Goodreads

‘Late one evening towards the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barrelled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else’s forehead and pulled the trigger. This is the story of how we got there.’ 

Beartown is a small town in a large Swedish forest.

For most of the year it is under a thick blanket of snow, experiencing the kind of cold and dark that brings people closer together – or pulls them apart.

Its isolation means that Beartown has been slowly shrinking with each passing year. But now the town is on the verge of an astonishing revival. Everyone can feel the excitement. Change is in the air and a bright new future is just around the corner.

Until the day it is all put in jeopardy by a single, brutal act. It divides the town into those who think it should be hushed up and forgotten, and those who’ll risk the future to see justice done. At last, it falls to one young man to find the courage to speak the truth that it seems no one else wants to hear.

No one can stand by or stay silent. You’re on one side or another.

Which side will you find yourself on?

My Review

‘The Scandal’ is what ‘Beartown’ was called here when I bought it in hardback in 2017. Personally I prefer the original name and am scratching my head as to why either the publishers or author (or both) felt the need to change it as ‘The Scandal’ sounds tackier and is only really relevant to half the book whereas the title ‘Beartown’ is more apt as it focuses on the community theme of this book.

When I read this during Christmas 2017 it had an average rating of 4.47 among my Goodreads friends and therefore I was expecting great things…

So I have just one (polite) question to ask to anyone who has rated this highly… Yes warning, there is an unpopular opinion coming right up lol!!

So yes… I want to know if I read the same book as everyone else because wow I did not like this at all!!!

To me it was nothing more than a piece of overblown, overwrought drama.

Okay I can see why people might like how this small community closes ranks around this scandal but I’ve read better books about communities. Books that find a harmony of prose from the many voices within a town… (e.g. Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor)

This was clunky. It was a book that had one or two moving quotes but most of the ideas behind the prose felt stale to me.

Without wishing to spoil the plot I have also read much better books about the events behind the scandal, about justice, vengeance…

To use a favourite sports term this was very much a book of two halves.

The first half made me want to stab myself in the eyeball from the tedium.

And the second, while it certainly picked up the pace, still petered out into a sort of maudlin analysis of the human condition.

And that ending….

*eye FREAKING roll*

Nope. No and nope again

One star for the first half, maybe three for the second if I’m feeling charitable….

But I’m not. Because days (and now years) later I am still annoyed about this ridiculous book.

So on average One and a half stars

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15 thoughts on “‘The Scandal’ aka ‘Beartown’ by Fredrik Backman – Book Review

  1. Ooooh Emer’s unpopular opinions strike again! Hahahaha I haven’t read this and have been putting it off FOR AGES because I’m worried that I’ll feel much the same way as you. I did start it in February on a whim, right before I hit my slump for the ages, then I just never picked it back up again. Definitely get the tedium point you make. Of what little I read, I just kept repeating to myself that this MUST get better soon 😂 I mean, why else would everyone love it?! Let’s see how I go with this… Hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes. I remember those feelings when reading it… This must get better. Surely it must….
      Spoiler alert it didn’t 😂😂😂😂
      When I read this there were so few GR reviews that were somewhat negative so I really felt like I was alone on my little island of cynicism and misery… Although I quite like my own company. I’m pretty fabulous really 💁🏼💁🏼💁🏼😂😂
      But in recent times since the hype had died down there have been a few more converts to my ways 😂😂😂😂😂
      COME JOIN ME ON THE ISLAND OF UNPOPULAR OPINIONS DINI!!! We have cake 🍰🍰🍰😂😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. CAKE!!! I’m there, Emer!! Hahaha honestly though, the hype around this book is a little incredible. I’m looking forward to seeing what island i fall on. Don’t finish all the cake before I can join you mmkay?! Hahaha 😂😂😂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh maybe not though. Because there’s definitely a lot in it to discuss and wouldn’t it be fun if there were lots of contrasting opinions. Because I know that this is one of my very dear reading friends fav book and yet I loathe it… And it’s just such a lot of fun discussing it with her!! :)))

      Like

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