From the writer of the award-winning Game of Thrones series for HBO based on the books of George R. R. Martin. Four months into the siege of Leningrad, the city is starving. Seventeen-year-old Lev fears for his life when he is arrested for looting the body of a dead German paratrooper, while his charismatic cellmate, Kolya, a handsome young ...
From the writer of the award-winning Game of Thrones series for HBO based on the books of George R. R. Martin. Four months into the siege of Leningrad, the city is starving. Seventeen-year-old Lev fears for his life when he is arrested for looting the body of a dead German paratrooper, while his charismatic cellmate, Kolya, a handsome young soldier arrested for desertion, seems bizarrely unafraid. Dawn brings, instead of an execution squad, an impossible challenge. Lev and Kolya can find a dozen eggs for an NKVD colonel to use for his daughter's wedding cake, and live. Or fail, and die. In the depths of the coldest winter in history, through a city cut off from all supplies and suffering appalling deprivation, man and boy embark on an absurd hunt. Their search will take them through desolate, lawless Leningrad and the devastated countryside surrounding it, in the captivating journey of two men trying to survive against desperate odds.
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I found this book quite fascinating for the information it gave on the horrors of the Nazi siege of Leningrad during World War II. I grew up in a time when American history only focused on U.S. and European allies' campaigns. I would guess that because of the "Cold War' that ensued with the Soviet Union there was little emphasis on or interest in the plight of Russians during the war.
I wasn't aware that Benioff is also a screenwriter until after I read the book. I kept thinking that the "scenes" read as if the author was hoping to get it picked up as a film project--maybe I'm right.
The characters, the trio at least, are believable and interesting. I wondered whether Benioff's grandfather or some other relative really had at least the experience of losing a finger to the Nazi's. Some of the events seemed predictable or as if Benioff threw in every horror he could find about the Nazi occupation of Russia. I was sad when Kolya, the most colorful of the characters, died--and such an unnecessary, ignominious death after all he had been through--but one could see it coming.
I really like the narrator and was glad he "got the girl" at the end, although the reunion was a bit pat.
Overall this is a good read--and maybe we'll all see the film version some day soon!!
Oct 7, 2010
Good not Great
Engaging story about Russians surviving World War II by their wits.
Sep 30, 2010
a really excellent read
This is a very lively novel which doesn't mask the sometimes gruesome details of life during the Siege of Leningrad, but at the same time is, amazingly, very funny.
The two main protagonists present vastly different types of young person, but both are entirely credible and endearing. Their relationship reveals a great deal about the ways in which an immensely stressful adventure can change an individual - or not.
Jan 22, 2010
Coming of age during the Siege of Leningrad
An off the wall tale of a search and adventurers of a Jewish teenage boy and a young awol Soviet army soldier on an impossible quest for a dozen eggs for the wedding cake of a corrupt Nazi officer ( and father of the bride) during the siege of Leningrad. Horror, depravity, ruthless killing, honor in the search for survival. Creative in plot giving details of the fight for existence of all protaganists..Nazis, Soviets, Russian people and the few remaining Jews who are hated by all.
Jul 14, 2009
Very quick and easy to read although parts may be too graphic for some to handle. A different type (at least for me)of coming of age story for a seventeen year old during the seige of Leningrad. Once again, I feel how fortunate I've been to have never faced such hardship (starvation, death, constant fear of death--basically, sheer brutality). Benioff's story illustrates how war changes not only the soldiers but non-combatants as well. Through Lev's and Koyla's journey to find the eggs we encounter different characters who have responded to war in various ways. Not for the faint of heart but a worthy tale nonetheless.
Publishers Weekly, 2008-02-25 Author and screenwriter Benioff follows up The 25th Hour with this hard-to-put-down novel based on his grandfather's stories about surviving WWII in Russia. Having elected to stay in Leningrad during the siege, 17-year-old Lev Beniov is caught looting a German paratrooper's corpse. The penalty for this infraction (and many others) is execution. But when Colonel Grechko confronts Lev and Kolya, a Russian army deserter also facing execution, he spares them on the condition that they acquire a dozen eggs for the colonel's daughter's wedding cake. Their mission exposes them to the most ghoulish acts of the starved populace and takes them behind enemy lines to the Russian countryside. There, Lev and Kolya take on an even more daring objective: to kill the commander of the local occupying German forces. A wry and sympathetic observer of the devastation around him, Lev is an engaging and self-deprecating narrator who finds unexpected reserves of courage at the crucial moment and forms an unlikely friendship with Kolya, a flamboyant ladies' man who is coolly reckless in the face of danger. Benioff blends tense adventure, a bittersweet coming-of-age and an oddly touching buddy narrative to craft a smart crowd-pleaser. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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