city of thieves

One of the audiobooks I picked for my road trip to Wisconsin (a full 27 hours in the car!) was City of Thieves by David Benioff. I didn’t have this on my wishlist or anything, but it was on my radar a little bit from seeing it pop up around on other blogs. I’m so glad I chose it! Edited description from Goodreads:

Lev Beniov considers himself built for deprivation. He’s small, smart, and insecure, a Jewish virgin too young for the army. When a dead German paratrooper lands in his street, Lev is caught looting the body and dragged to jail, fearing for his life. He shares his cell with the charismatic and grandiose Kolya, a handsome young soldier arrested on desertion charges. Instead of the standard bullet in the back of the head, 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 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 to find the impossible.

This was PERFECT for a long drive. Adventure, action, humor, sabotage, a little romance, history… I loved it. I admit I didn’t know much more about the Siege of Leningrad more than it was a devastating German military operation to capture the city during WWII, that took almost three full years. But honestly that’s it—no details. While this is a work of historical fiction, now that I’ve researched a bit more about the Siege I’m sure that the horrors Lev and Kolya faced on their odyssey weren’t far off the mark.

And seriously, this is upsetting, depressing material. We’re talking starvation, massive casualties, death in the streets, scant rations of inedible… “food”… things…, cannibals, Nazis, violence, etc. However, Benioff finds a way through dark humor and strong character development (Kolya is hilarious and simply irresistible—one of my new favorite characters!) to blend tragedy and comedy into an entertaining tale of survival, loyalty, and unlikely friendship. Lev and Kolya’s relationship is a wonderfully memorable literary bromance.

Bonus: since it’s a “coming-of-age” story of sorts, and the
protagonists are in the college undergrad age bracket, I am totally
counting City of Thieves as my “new adult” read for the Eclectic Reader Challenge!

The version I listened to was unabridged, read by Hellboy himself, actor Ron Perlman. His performance was engaging and committed, giving fully nuanced personality to each character with different timbres and accents. Perlman’s timing and delivery, especially in conversations between Lev and Kolya, are impeccable. Spellbinding reading—I was on the edge of my (driver’s) seat! I’m going to get a paper copy of the book and reread in the future, for sure.

City of Thieves was my selection for “new adult” on the 2013 Eclectic Reader Challenge, hosted by Shelleyrae at book’d out, and my seventh read of twelve books total for the challenge.

Listened to audiobook from July 11 to 12, 2013.

2 thoughts on “city of thieves

  1. Wasn’t this fantastic!? I’m so glad you liked it. I can totally see myself re-reading this one in the future as well. 😀

    • I did! And for me to want to reread something says a lot. Also I think I’d like to experience City of Thieves on paper—I’m sure I missed some things as I was driving. 🙂

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