“City of Thieves” by David Benioff (Viking Adult, 2008)

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From David Benioff, author of The 25th Hour and screenwriter for The Kite Runner, comes an original tale of adventure, laughter, and ongoing mystery set against the backdrop off World War II and the Siege of Leningrad.  City of Thieves is a fast-paced, enjoyable book that will have you telling your friends about it.

Lev Beniov is a Leningrad local, fondly referring to the city of his birth as Piter after Petersburg.  Left to fend for himself with some friends, he spends his days starving, foraging for food.  When a dead Nazi falls from the sky via parachute, he ransacks the body for food.  He is soon captured by the Russian army and is imprisoned expecting execution, because all findings are required to be turned over to the Russian army.  In prison he befriends an unusual man named Kolya, a deserter.  The Colonel surprisingly offers the two a deal for their freedom and survival: to find twelve eggs in less than a week for his daughter’s wedding cake.

And so begins a most unusual adventure, filled with danger, horror, and hunger.  But Benioff keeps the book fast-paced and entertaining with the back and forth banter between the main characters: Lev is a seventeen year old virgin, and Kolya is a very vocal sex addict.  While at times the language and actions of the characters force readers to remind themselves it’s 1942, it is nevertheless a quick read that you won’t soon forget.

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Originally written on April 16th, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.