Lynne Spreen's Reviews > City of Thieves

City of Thieves by David Benioff
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's review
Apr 20, 2010

it was amazing

I enjoyed this book as much as any I've read. Lev, a teenaged Jewish boy, and his charismatic sidekick/mentor Kolya are offered the chance to get out of a Leningrad prison if they bring the colonel a dozen eggs for his daughter's wedding cake. This in WWII Russia where people are so desperately hungry they're reverting to cannibalism! Lev and Kolya set off across the snow-covered countryside, thru a maze of obstacles and small triumphs so vividly written that I almost felt I was watching a movie.

The characters are 3-dimensional and richly drawn. The feeling of fear throughout the book is visceral, yet the author interlaces it with humor, beauty, kindness and you don't get overloaded. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the dark humor. (After surviving the night imprisoned by the Germans, Lev observes another captive "hacking up a wad of phlegm that had been in his lungs since Alexander the Third".)

The realities of wartime Leningrad can't be burnished - people did horrendous things to survive, and the soldiers did horrendous things to gain advantage over the other side. The behavior of the characters is believable, the pace is good (vivid action scenes interspersed with interesting dialogue).

The tension never lets up! There's always a goal to be met, pressure, danger, obstacles, small gains and rewards. And since the story is told by the Lev's grandson, who is interviewing Lev in the present time, I don't think it's a spoiler to say there's a satisfying ending.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Mickey Your first sentence says it all. It's also one of my favorites. I have the Kindle edition, but I know I'm going to have to buy it for the shelves! It's one of those. Kindle isn't enough.

message 2: by Jan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jan Loved this book and loaned it out many times! (Surprised it came back to me!!) So glad you liked it too!

Lynne Spreen The dark funny! And what a movie it would make! Plus the ending is so gratifying. Well, except for one sad development. But the romance angle, I mean.

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