City of thieves : a novel / David Benioff.
Booklist Reviews 2008 April #2
In 1941, the Germans circled Leningrad, starving its remaining citizens. His mother and sister evacuated, 17-year-old Lev Beniov remained, heeding the call for every able-bodied man to come to the defense of his country. After being caught out after curfew, Lev is thrown in the Crosses, the notorious prison, and while waiting for what he assumes will be an inglorious end, a summary execution at dawn, he is joined by the gregarious, indefatigable, and literature-spouting soldier, Kolya, imprisoned for desertion. When their lives are spared, they are assigned the impossible task of acquiring a dozen eggs for the wedding of a colonel's daughter, a task that takes them into the company of cannibals and Einsatzgruppen, dreaded Nazi death squads. A high-spirited adventure, Benioff's second novel (following the 2001 debut, The 25th Hour), ostensibly an account of the author's grandfather—a quiet immigrant who sold his real-estate business and retired to Florida with his wife—takes more than a little poetic license. When Benioff tells his grandfather that a few things don't make sense in the narrative, his reply: "You're a writer. Make it up." Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2008 April #1
Looking for the feel-good World War II book of the year? This tale of two miscreants in Soviet Leningrad might be the one, as Lev and Kolya bumble their way toward locating a dozen eggs for a stern Soviet colonel who needs them for his daughter's wedding cakes. The city is at the gates of starvation (achingly portrayed in realistic detail), so the boys set out into the enemy-occupied countryside. Delivering the eggs will release them from their death sentences, as Lev was caught looting the body of a downed German paratrooper and Kolya deserted his unit to visit girlfriends. Coming upon partisan cadres and Germans, they find little success in their perilous saga. With deftly sly humor, respect for the agony of warfare, and dialog that elevates the boys-to-men story beyond its typical male ribaldry, this second novel (after The 25th Hour ) by screenwriter Benioff (The Kite Runner ) deserves a bright spotlight in most libraries to attract readers young and old to its compelling pages.—Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA[Page 72]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
PW Reviews 2008 February #4
Author and screenwriter Benioff follows up The 25th Hour with this hard-to-put-down novel based on his grandfather's stories about surviving WWII in Russia. Having elected to stay in Leningrad during the siege, 17-year-old Lev Beniov is caught looting a German paratrooper's corpse. The penalty for this infraction (and many others) is execution. But when Colonel Grechko confronts Lev and Kolya, a Russian army deserter also facing execution, he spares them on the condition that they acquire a dozen eggs for the colonel's daughter's wedding cake. Their mission exposes them to the most ghoulish acts of the starved populace and takes them behind enemy lines to the Russian countryside. There, Lev and Kolya take on an even more daring objective: to kill the commander of the local occupying German forces. A wry and sympathetic observer of the devastation around him, Lev is an engaging and self-deprecating narrator who finds unexpected reserves of courage at the crucial moment and forms an unlikely friendship with Kolya, a flamboyant ladies' man who is coolly reckless in the face of danger. Benioff blends tense adventure, a bittersweet coming-of-age and an oddly touching buddy narrative to craft a smart crowd-pleaser. (May)[Page 47]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.