Monday, April 20, 2015

City of Thieves - David Benioff

City of ThievesTitle:                City of Thieve
Publisher:        Plume

Market:            General

Genre:             Historical Fiction, WWII

Length:            319 pages

Pub. Date:       March 31, 2009


Description (from Amazon):

During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible.

By turns insightful and funny, thrilling and terrifying, the New York Times bestseller City of Thieves is a gripping, cinematic World War II adventure and an intimate coming-of-age story with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men.

My Review:

While I’ve read many a World War II book, I had yet to read any set in Russia.  So I was interested in reading this book when it came up in my book club roster for April. 

The story was fascinating even though it covered just a scant few days of time.  The pace kept me interested and turning pages to see what Lev and Kolya would encounter next. 

And then there were Lev and Kolya themselves.  They are such well-developed characters.  Fully fleshed out.  I felt like I could picture them, be walking next to them, know them.  Benioff did a great job creating dynamic characters the reader can feel something for.

I will not be giving this book a rating.  I’m just torn on what it should be.  Based on the story itself and the character dynamics, It’s probably a 4.5 (or even a 5) out of 5.  But the language and crude sexual discussions lean me towards giving it only 1.  I just don’t think I could set my personal biases aside to recommend the book because of those (I felt) unnecessary elements.

Pros:  amazing character development; engaging action

Cons:  a lot of vulgar language; almost constant crude, sexual references and discussion

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