The start of my 200 word book reviews
I started and finished City of Thieves in the same day. Really entertaining book. High level, it's a story of two young boys (17 and 20) whose fates unexpectedly and (seemingly) unfortunately get tied together. They are forced by a Russian General to scour besieged WWII Leningrad (Piter) for a dozen eggs or face the punishment of death.
Benioff does a great job of combining humor next to the darkness and savagery of Leningrad during WWII. The contrasting personalities of the two protagonists, Lev (naive, shy, inexperienced in life and longing for some purpose) and Kolya (center of the party blabbermouth that no woman can resist) makes for great banter. Their conversations are profound and comedic at the same time.
The brutality of the Nazis against the Russians is stark and unrelenting. I'm amazed and confused that this fact can continue to surprise me.
The willingness of Russians to suffer and endure is remarkable and commendable. They seemingly rationalize life as a pendulum swinging between suffering and joy. The conclusion being, that you can't have one side without the other.