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I read 90% of this book in one sitting on an airplane flying back to Los Angeles from China. So I obviously found it engrossing and it held my interest. Therefore I appreciate that it was recommended and made my flight easier. Having said that I do feel that if I am reading another heart wrenching story with painful graphic details of how innocent men women and children died as result of the Nazi’s during World War II, I would like it to have some new enlightening aspects of this history which will shed some fresh ideas on this atrocity, which I didn’t really find in this book Granted we did lean about horrible deaths often due to starvation and freezing temperatures as well as grisly murders for human food all due to the siege of Leningrad, in addition to the direct murder by the Nazis. While it is conceivable that some of the fanciful details how death was missed and survival occurred, may very well have happened to some people, our main characters seem to mostly have a string of good luck embodying an unusual amount of fortunate events. Perhaps the author was trying to have his cast represent many of the unusual, unbelievable and yet heroic things that the people of this beleaguered city had done. There also was a recurrent theme which seemed to be playing off the words and writings of various Russian writers, which might have been more interesting and coherent if I were familiar with these authors, which I am not. I did get the point that Koyla, the Russian deserter was whistling a happy tune because he was afraid himself and that his quoting the so called novel that his young friend never read, was actually from the novel which he hoped to write himself. However, all these references to Russian authors must have had some additional significance. Finally the author did something that I did not like. When Vika, the sharp shooting partisan decides to go her own way and depart from the the other two main characters, the narrator who is the young boy smitten with her ( who is supposed to be the authors grandfather telling him the story of his youth states, I knew I would never see her again. This is the author writing off this character which he basically restates in the next paragraph when he writes …and if the mystics are right and we are doomed to repeat our squalid lives ad infinitum, at least I will always return to that kiss. The character did not say I believed she was gone, he said I knew I would never see her again. Therefore when she reappears for the happy ending I was not only very surprised but I felt tricked with an unacceptable literary device. So in conclusion, while the book held my interest and will probably make a great movie, however for all of the above reasons, I give it thumbs down.