The setting of the book, the siege on Leningrad, was accurately portrayed and believable. The two main characters were a good balance together and I enjoyed their banter back and forth. The random humor was welcomed, as the setting was rather depressing. However, I felt at times there was perhaps not enough of a balance between light and dark, humor and depression, at least not up to par with what others touted the book to have (the summary, the quotes found on the book etc.). I also did not enjoy all of the chess talk, I found it tiresome and I believe most people would unless they love chess. While I understood the addition of it, I did not enjoy the crude talk regarding bowel movements either (which was a repetitive theme). Overall, I liked the novel and felt Russia while reading it, I just think it could have been a bit more than what it was.