I am an avid "reader"- I prefer to listen to books rather than read them due to the added dimension added by the narrator.
This was an odd book in that I almost erased it 4 times. I'm glad I stuck it out
as once the story began to focus on the relationship between Lev and Kolya, it began to have heart. In the end, I'm glad I read it as it gave me a window into Russian culture and what the Russians lived through during the second World War. Having been in St. Petersburg and having seen the destruction that the German soldiers inflicted on that city alone, it was fascinating to get an eye on the people and how they were affected. I found the reader's voice somwhat irritating and monotone but perhaps the book was read that way on purpose.
David Benioff wanted to write a biography of his grandfather’s experience in the siege of Leningrad. However, his grandfather, tired of interviews and questions, and poking and prodding told him simply, “David, you’re a writer. Make it up!” What resulted was something halfway between a history and a fever dream. There are moments that, personally, I would have preferred to leave out. (If you’re an animal lover, I highly recommend skipping from the top of page 110 to the start of the next chapter.) And the story that reminds you just how awful Nazis really were reads like something out of the most recent round of torture porn, because that’s exactly what he is describing. But it’s the rest of the moments that really make the book work. The horror is the leading that holds this stained glass depiction of an experience up where we can see it.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t spend the whole book trying to sort out what was real and what was made up. I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want to know what a grandson imagined about the almost hero his grandfather had been. I didn’t want to know because even if it hadn’t happened to him, to Lev Beniov, it happened to someone in Piter that winter. And maybe, in making it up, David Benioff managed to write the story of a city under siege even more than the biography of his grandfather who lives in Florida, as far away from the Piter snow as he can get.
This is a great story. I did not do several things I should have because I wanted to know what happened next. The writing is very good though not stellar, but the characters are undeniably memorable.
Our reader, though his accents are shaky at first, ends up being and integral and dark lovely force by a couple chapters in.
This is a well produced book with chapters marked and punctuated by music. If I had a criticism it would be the music interrupting the ends of chapters and distracting (albeit sometimes relieving) the intensity of the narrative.
All in all – I wish it was longer because I want more!
This book was very good but the narrator made it a great listen! His accents were believable and not overdone. This was a very pleasant surprise and I was sorry it ended.
This book helped me survive the flu. It was not in my Wish List; I purchased it from one of the Audible "sales racks." I am so glad I did. The combination of the prose and narration painted a picture that has left me feeling like I have just seen a fabulous haunting movie. I can relay all the details as though I saw them on the silver screen, yet they are only in my head. The character development is superb and I cannot disconnect the narrator from his character; he was perfect as Lev. I felt I truly knew the two main characters as I moved through the book. I was curious about the next adventure as I trudged across the Russian winter landscape with them. I was never allowed to forget the bitter cold, extreme hunger and utter cruelty they were experiencing. Yet I laughed at their foolishness, marveled at their resourcefulness and remained hopeful for them despite the steep odds against them. I could not want more from a book. As such, I am awarding it with five precious stars.
This book has everything. How can a book that describes horrible war time conditions also be so funny that it makes you laugh out loud? It was realistic, humorous, and I cried at the end. Sure some of the language is rough and the conversation is appropriate to two young males, but it is not a "guy" novel, as some have suggested. It is a novel about friendship and courage. The reader was excellent. The narrator was a low key kind of guy and that's how it was read. Perfect.
A fascinating story, well told. Ron Perlman is a talented narrator and I hope to hear more from him at Audible.
I don't think I have ever given a 5 star review before. This is an amazing book, well written, and well read by the actor, Ron Perlman. It's about the seige of Lenningrad and two Soviet youths who go behind enemy lines to find a dozen eggs in exchange for not being shot by the Soviet army for desertion and looting. It has pathos, humor, a compelling story, and a glimpse of a time and a place so realistic, I got cold reading it. If you want a shorter book that will keep you listening, this is it.
I have never in my life read a book I wanted to re-read right away. This is the first. What a wonderfully crafted story. No offense to Ron Perlman who did a magnificent job reading it to me, but I am going to go out and buy the hard copy and read it like this one should be read. I look forward to reading more of Mr. Benioff's work.