Posted in Coming Of Age, Historical Fiction, My Bibliothèque

{ Book Review } – City of Thieves!

  • Title: City of Thieves
  • Author: David Benioff
  • Genre: Historical Fiction, Coming of Age Story
  • Average Rating on Goodreads: 4.27 stars out of 5
  • Average Rating on Amazon: 4.5 stars out of 5
  • Movie Adaptation: None
  • Year of Publication: 2008

Based on the WW II escapades of two young lads who are out to steal a dozen eggs in a curfew laden, starving Leningrad ( or Piter, as the Leningrad folks prefer to call it), the City of Thieves is the story of how war turns boys into men pretty harshly and how humanity copes with the horrors that come with war. Lev Beniov ( the books hints to have fiction mixed with facts and appears to be narrated by in the voice of Benioff’s grandfather ) and Nikolai ‘Kolya’ Vlasov are ordered by a Colonel to steal a dozen eggs for his daughter’s wedding cake in a war-torn starving city and offers a barter: go scotfree of the petty crimes that they have been arrested for if they succeed or face execution if they fail. Set in the backdrop of a World War, the mood alternates between war horrors and buoyant optimism. The shades of friendship the lads strike up, albeit a grudgingly by Lev, make you smile and get all teary-eyed alternately in the book.

{ Book Review } – City of Thieves by David Benioff. Book 18/25 of 2016 reading challenge. Detailed review on the blog, link in the profile @d.srujan . Based on the WW II escapades of two young lads who are out to steal a dozen eggs in a curfew laden, starving Leningrad ( or Piter, as the Leningrad folks prefer to call it), the City of Thieves is the story of how war turns boys into men pretty harshly and how humanity copes with the horrors that come with war. Lev Beniov ( the books hints to have fiction mixed with facts and appears to be narrated in the voice of Benioff's grandfather ) and Nikolai 'Kolya' Vlasov are ordered by a Colonel to steal a dozen eggs for his daughter's wedding cake in a war-torn starving city and offers a barter: go scotfree of the petty crimes that they have been arrested for if they succeed or face execution if they fail. Set in the backdrop of a World War, the mood alternates between war horrors and buoyant optimism. The friendship the lads strike up, albeit a grudgingly by Lev, make you smile and get all teary-eyed alternately in the book. And then, there is Kolya, who views even worn battered Russia with rose tinted glasses. There is something about him, underneath all the smartass-ness and cockiness, that appeals to you and endears him to you. Highly recommended: 4 ⭐️s / 5

A post shared by Srujan Desai (@d.srujan) on

Of course, this is a story about war. But more than that, it is also about survival mechanisms of the human brain. It’s also about various forms of courage, ranging from acts of chivalrous gallantry about saving girls forced into oppression by the Germans, to challenging a German Officer over a match of chess and then killing him. I won’t get into the full story and give away spoilers, but it has more threads and emotions that the word World War will evoke. The author painted a vivid image of frozen, torn down Leningrad, involving lots of snow, ear-splitting sounds fighter plane droning in the sky, how the military perpetuates oppression but the germans are worse and so on. It is a tale of melancholy sometimes when young Lev reminisces about his missing and presumably dead poet father. This is how he mentions him once in the book.

If he was buried, there is no marker; if he was burned, there is no urn.

And then, there is Kolya, who views even worn battered Russia with rose tinted glasses. There is something about him, underneath all the smartass-ness and cockiness, that appeals to you and endears him to you. He gets you to feel optimistic about stealing a dozen eggs in a city which definitely has none. He makes you feel optimistic about walking into a German Officer’s quarters and challenging him to a game of chess. He is your quintessential “can overcome any odds with sheer chutzpah” lucky chap. Okay, I will stop here, I will probably tell you the rest of the story here itself.

  • My Rating: 4 stars out 5
  • Recommendation: Don’t put this away thinking of it to be just another war story. It’s much more than the war, it’s also about human emotions and how circumstances change the way one expresses them.

This will be my this week’s entry to the wonderful event called Book Review Day, hosted by Nivedita of Weird and Wonderful and the event called Friday Reads hosted by Lauren of L Jones Edition.

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3 thoughts on “{ Book Review } – City of Thieves!

    1. Okay, the day (and some days after that one) I had read the book, I was on a book high. But then after a couple of days, I went on and on about it in my head, and I felt that I got carried away. I am really new to this thing of doing book reviews, and I thought I should be a bit responsible. Nothing wrong with the book that I would take the recommendation away. I thought, I should just sober up a little. 🙂 I mean, I asked myself the question that have I really read enough books to rate this particular one 5 stars? That’s it, none of my feelings for the book have changed. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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