Sunday, June 28, 2009

City of Thieves by David Benioff

Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Pub. Date: March 2009
ISBN-13: 9780452295292
Pages: 272
Rating: 5 out of 5
Summary: It is 1942, and Leningrad is under siege by the Nazi Germany. Lev Beniov, a Russian Jew, is thrown into jail after being caught for looting. While in jail, he meets the tall, handsome, and confident Kolya who's jailed for deserting his Army. A Soviet colonel decides to spare their lives if they accomplish an outrageous mission: They must obtain a dozen eggs for the colonel's daughter's wedding cake. Sure, a dozen eggs can't be too hard to find, but Leningrad is torn by the war where food supplies had been cut off, forcing Lev and Kolya to go behind the enemy lines.
Review: After reading The Bell Jar and Of Mice and Men, City of Thieves was a breath of fresh air. I was absolutely entertained by this story. It had adventure, suspense, and comedy. I was immediately hooked by the story, and it was impossible for me to put the book down. Mr. Benioff is an awesome writer.
The story started out with Lev who got caught after trying to loot a dead (yes, dead) German soldier whose life ended due to the cold. (This is in the dead of winter in Russia, after all.) He was sent to jail since the dead soldier was actually the Russian government's property, and therefore Lev was stealing from the Russian government. By the way, did I mention that the soldier was dead?
Just when I thought the reason for Lev's incarceration was ridiculous, a Soviet colonel decided to spare him and his companion in jail, Kolya, from execution if they accomplish this amazing feat: Get a dozen eggs so the colonel's wife can bake a cake for their daughter's wedding. Getting a dozen eggs ought to be simple, but unfortunately this was war time. Invaded by the Nazis, Leningrad was cut off from food supplies. The Russians were dying either from getting killed or starving to death.
Lev and Kolya go through plenty of near death experiences such as escaping from Russian cannibals and also from the Nazis. Yet despite the odds of the odds against them, Kolya's humor remained intact. I thought Kolya was a lovable and unforgettable character with his easy going attitude and wise-cracking remarks. Lev, however, held up on his own as a main character. Only seventeen, he was a naive city boy but later showed courage when danger was imminent.
Recommendation: I love this book and it's a keeper. It is highly recommended if you are looking for the following in a book:
1. Action and adventure
2. Comedy
3. A coming of age story
4. A story of friendship


  1. Thanks for the review on this book, it looks funny, in an odd sort of way considering it takes place in world war II. I'm going to look around for this book, you barely see any books that have a comedy tone when it comes to war.

  2. Hi, okbolover. Thanks for commenting. You're right. Most WWII themed books have such a somber mood given the topic. This one is unique, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to read City of Thieves.

  3. My mother-in-law gave me this and based on the blurb I wasn't attracted to it, but now I think I'll definitely give it a read. Thanks!


  4. Your welcome, Connie. The only regret I have is not reading the book sooner. I was glad to have the opportunity.

  5. Hi Helen! I've been ignoring this book for the longest time at National. Based on your review, I think I'll like it a lot. Thanks! I'll definitely check this out.

  6. Hey, Peter! Your welcome. It was worth reading this book. I hope you will enjoy this book as much as I did.

  7. This one is on my tbr and even though the challenge is winding down, it is still one I want to read. Good to hear you enjoyed it, thanks!