City of Thieves by David Benioff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A coming of age historical fiction set during the siege of Leningrad (late 1941). Lev, the young man (who we know lives through his ordeal because the story is framed as him telling the story as an oral history to his grandson), is arrested by the Russian NKVD for looting, but instead of being executed, he's teamed up with diserter Kolya to achieve what would seem to be impossible at that point in time: find one dozen eggs to be used for the Colonel's daughter's wedding cake. During their quest, they meet, work with and against the best and worst of a city trying to survive. Kolya is the eternal optimist, perhaps a too perfect of match for Lev's naive feeling of eternal doom. When a pretty young sharpshooter is introduced to the story, the focus of the story takes an unfortunate (but great for a Benioff screenplay) turn from survival to falling in love, but in the end, every thing's pretty much what you'd been expecting. There are no surprise twists, just a good, basic war time story.
As a narrator, Ron Perlman is an actor. What that means is that when he's doing dialog, it's an engrossing story. When he's reading actual narrative, his voice is flat and dull. That makes the beginning of the book very hard to get through, and it's what makes this a three star rather than a four star book.
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