Book Reviews: City of Thieves
Thursday, December 30, 2010Posted by Melissa (Avid Reader)
The City of Thieves
By David Benioff
I tend to love books that deal with WWII. There are so many different amazing stories to tell about people at their best and worst that take place during that awful war. Despite that, I’ve read very little about WWII in Russia, so I was excited to read this book.
Lev, the narrator, is a young naive man, is paired up with the worldly-wise Kolya when both men face disciplinary action in the army. They are assigned the odd task of finding a dozen eggs for a superior officer's daughter's wedding cake. Their adventure forces them to cross paths with some vicious people. Lev is forced to grow up quickly as he copes with all that he sees.
The plot and style of writing reminded me of the film Inglorious Bastards. There’s a good story there but you have to wade through some violence and crass language to get to it. It’s definitely targeted at a male audience with frequent references to sex, defecating, etc., and though I could have done with less of that, it’s still a great story.
This is definitely not a book for the faint of heart. Leningrad was no picnic during the Siege and Lev must face some heinous situations. Yet Benioff doesn’t dwell on the violence, he uses it to show the atrocities that human beings can do to one another under the blanket of war. It’s a powerful book that’s at once funny and heartbreaking.
“The truth might be stranger than fiction, but it needs a better editing.”
“I’ve always envied people who sleep easily. Their brains must be cleaner, the floorboards of the skull well swept.”
Side Note: Benioff has written the screenplay quite a few films, including The Kite Runner and X-Men: Wolverine, which explains why the book felt like it was paced like a movie (not in a bad way). He’s also married to actress Amanda Peet, who knew?