Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: May 15, 2012
Pages: 327 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: ARC found at a used bookstore
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon; Barnes & Noble; Book Depository

Oct. 11th, 1943—A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

Harrowing and beautifully written, Elizabeth Wein creates a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other. Code Name Verity is an outstanding novel that will stick with you long after the last page.


The books you never think you're going to read are often the books that surprise you, whether that surprise is good or bad. Code Name Verity sat on my shelf for well over a month and it was never my intent to read it in the first place. After a terrible reading streak (nine of the last ten books I've read were either jaw-droppingly terrible or underwhelming), I remembered a 10/10 review Code Name Verity got from one of The Book Smugglers, aka two of my favorite reviewers ever, and gave it a shot.

Good surprise, everyone! Good surprise! Oh my gosh, this book. If I could, I would drop a bunch of crying GIFs and squeeing GIFs here and call it a day, but that won't make anyone understand why I've hardly let go of the book since I started reading it. Wein's story of friendship and survival during World War II tore my heart into pieces.

Told in two points of view (Verity's for the first two-hundred or so pages; Maddie's for the rest of the book), Code Name Verity is occasionally funny despite the subject matter and all the torture Verity goes through. As she writes of being forced to endure pencil shavings in her eyes, three days of little sleep and almost nonstop torture, and burns all over her body alongside the story of show she and Maddie met and how Verity ended up in France, she tends to display a wry sense of humor. The average person would have gotten that tortured out of them, but not her. She understands that clinging to humor any way she can may be the only way to keep hold on some semblance of her sanity.

But how much of what Verity says is the truth? Could she be lying through her teeth with every word she says in order to stay loyal to her country? Has she really been broken to the point of giving up everything she knows? Since everything she writes will get back to her captors, she can only write down so much. There could be much more going on during her time in prison than she is able to write down. Verity's unreliability as a narrator gives the novel a compelling angle.

Maddie's part of the novel is a little weaker, but her faith in her best friend nearly made me swoon. When someone claims Verity is a collaborator, Maddie has to be knocked out so she won't hurt him any worse than she already had. Where Verity is wry and a tad long-winded, Maddie is direct and very emotional. It's funny how despite Verity's side of the story being the stronger one overall and detailing some of her torture, it wasn't until Maddie took over that I started bawling.

Sure, the descriptions of pilot life and how planes work and such made my eyes glaze over a little when I was reading, but that is something I easily overlooked in my quest to make it to the end of Verity's story. Anyone looking for a World War II romance won't find one here--not in the usual sense. This is the platonic love affair of two intelligent girls who become close friends while serving their country and are forced to make difficult choices in the middle of one of the fiercest wars ever fought. Difficult choices indeed.

Code Name Verity started out as an ARC I rescued from a used bookstore so I could pass it on to another blogger who would love it. Now I'm more reluctant to let it go. If you think this is the kind of book you can read, read it. It made me blubber and it made me laugh (but not at something that would make me blubber) and I'm going to love it forever.

5 stars!

What am I reading next?: Liar by Justine Larbalestier

1 comment:

  1. Yay, that's fantastic! I have a copy of this that I really need to get around to reading - I've only read a few reviews, but they've all been spectacular. I think I'm a little daunted by the plane aspect, but you've definitely encouraged me to pick this one up next. Thanks for the review!

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