Monday, March 1, 2010
Review: City of Thieves by David Benioff
First off: City of Thieves is not technically a YA. But the main character is a 17 year-old, and given his viewpoint, I thought this book had great crossover potential.
City of Thieves is the author’s loose interpretation of his grandfather’s time in WWII Russia. After finding a dead German soldier, eager-to-fight son of a dead poet Lev gets arrested and thrown into jail with Koyla, a playboy Russian soldier charged with desertion. The two are destined for execution when they’re saved by a Russian officer whose daughter is about to marry; he needs eggs (a scarcity) for the wedding cake, and promises Lev and Kolya freedom if they find them.
We follow the unlikely partners on their strange mission to find eggs in this Iliad-like story of friendship. Benioff gives vivid details of the population’s ways to survive (you’ll have to read the book; I don’t want to give all the good stuff away), and Lev and Koyla’s combined ingenuity. Toward the end of the book, the two get caught up in a plot to kill the commander of the German occupiers, where Lev is forced to step up and protect himself and his friend.
What I loved most about this book was its detailed depiction of Russia during WWII, and the heartwarming tale of unlikely friendship. It’s a solid 5, and it goes on my crime fiction list.