City of Thieves by David Benioff
In the coldest winter in history, in a starving city under siege, two prisoners are thrown together on a desperate adventure.
Lev, a shy, chess-loving teenager and Kolya, a charismatic chancer.
They are given one week to complete an extraordinary mission: to scour the ravaged countryside to find a dozen eggs.
Or come back empty-handed, and die.
I picked this up in Waterstone’s because it had a banner on it saying that if the reader didn’t love it then they could claim two books free of charge – but the publishers needn’t worry – I won’t be claiming my freebies!
For Lev, the journey is not only about survival but also about coming-of-age. Kolya is very wordly-wise and is the perfect companion for Lev on this journey, even though Lev finds Kolya rather annoying at first!
I imagine this is semi-biographical, about the author’s Grandfather, perhaps – as Lev’s surname is Beniov. Some of the subject matter is rather disturbing, but that’s only to be expected and it’s not graphically written – there are funny parts too, which help to balance the book.
I’ve not read anything about the Russians’ involvement in World War 2 before, so I don’t know how factually correct the novel is, but it’s a cracking read. One really gets the sense of the struggle ordinary people had in order to survive in war-torn Russia.
The ending might be slightly predictable but that doesn’t take anything away from the experience. I’d definitely recommend this and will look for some more of this author’s work.