Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: Gross Sobbing

code name verity


Title: Code Name Verity

Author: Elizabeth Wein

Genre: YA historical (WWII)

Length: 447 pages

Published by: Egmont Press

Source: school library


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, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy? 



So, ah, this book is sad. It doesn’t start off like that. In fact, the beginning of the book is INCREDIBLY BORING and if it wasn’t for the hordes of bloggers who had recommended that I keep going past the slow parts, I probably would have DNF’d it. Actually, no, that’s a lie since I’m stubborn and can’t DNF books apparently, but YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. But I highly, highly recommend reading past the slow bits because the rest is just…woah. After about the first hundred pages (a bit less, actually) it starts getting good.

The book itself starts with Verity’s confession to Gestapo about all sorts of things – she’s writing the whole story down.

Basically, Verity is the most incredible character I’ve ever read about in a WWII story.

She has lots of names, but we’re going to call her Verity because duh, that’s what the title says. In her recount, she talks a LOT about Maddie, and these were the boring bits – I did not sign up to read about planes, everyone. But the glimpses of what’s happening to her, the subtly veiled tales of how she is being tortured…they broke my heart. And yet still, in her account, she manages to be one of the most sassy heroines I’ve ever come across. And that’s saying something.

She introduced humour to the  book that was, at the same time, heart-breaking. How you put humour into a book about WWII, I don’t know, but it was done so well and felt real to me the whole time. VERITY felt real. Truthful (haha, get it, because “Verity” means truth? Okay, I’ll stop now).

And then halfway through, we get Maddie’s account. The only way to describe my reaction through this half was: 


I read the second half of the book in one sitting, because I COULD NOT LOOK AWAY. And I can’t say too much without spoilers, but let’s just say that oh my goodness Verity I love you so much *hugs Verity*. I kind of suspected some things throughout her account but to hear them from Maddie’s point of view…wow.

The way this novel unravels is really amazing. The friendship, the plot twists/reveals, the RESEARCH. Holy crap, the research. I skimmed through the bibliography at the end and wowzers, Elizabeth Wein deserves many many medals for being so dedicated. And even though she intentionally changed some things to fit with the story, to me it all felt way too real.

I mean, sometimes I’m scared by horror movies. But I am terrified about events that take place in historical fiction – events that could well have happened.

This was what Code Name Verity did. The title of this blog post is a lie – I didn’t cry at this book. I was too stunned, shocked, horrified to cry. What these girls did is incredible, and I SO want to believe that something like this happened. It’s a tale of bravery, friendship and sacrifice.

And I loved it.

My only complaints were 1) The slow start and sometimes dense writing, and 2) I wish there could have been more of Maddie and Verity TOGETHER.

But you should definitely, definitely read this book. Even if you don’t really like historical fiction (I don’t).

My Rating: 4/5 Wonderkitties


14 thoughts on “Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: Gross Sobbing

  1. Yup, I absolutely agree. The only reason I got through it was because I was listening to an audio. But I kid you not, I WAS CRYING AT THE END. That was…that was unbelievably emotional. At the beginning I felt kind of cheated because I wanted to read about Verity/Queenie (hehe, what do I even call her? XD) and it was all about Maddie and her planes. Buuuut…then the second half just mad me sob. Absolutely feels wrenching book. I’m too scared to try Rose Under Fire. Are you reading that one?

    • How on EARTH did you bear this as an audio book??? That would have been torture. Oh gosh, it was so sad at the end and just…I’m still getting over it. Bloody Maddie and her planes – I want to hear about Verity!! Oh, Rose Under Fire is at my library but I’m not sure if I’m emotionally ready, lol.

  2. I love historical fiction books and I’ve heard so many great things about this book, so I’ll have to pick it up. I don’t mind slow beginnings too much, as long as the tension is really ratcheted up later in the book. I don’t DNF books, either! It just annoys me. I always try to finish a book no matter what, unless the content is really disturbing or unclean. I also love novels that unravel beautifully and sometimes painfully, as it sounds like this book does, so Code Name Verity is going on my must-read-now list. Thanks for the great review!

    • Historical fiction is one I think I’ve just skipped out on, for some reason. Not sure how. Glad I’m not the only non-DNF-er. It makes me nervous! Like what if I missed the best part of the book??? Oh, this book takes “unravel” to a whole new level. I hope you get a chance to read it, seriously 🙂

  3. I now want to read this one. You’ve convinced me.

    It’s definitely not something I would pick up voluntarily as I don’t really like historical novels, or overly sad novels for that matter, but I am curious. I’ve heard many exceptional things about it.

    • Excellent. I’m sneaky like that. Like you, it’s not one I would have picked up of my own accord, which is why I’m so thankful to have awesome book blogger friends who take me out of my comfort zone and recommend amazing books like this!

  4. Hm…. I volunteer at a library, and I was asked if I’d read CODE NAME VERITY a while ago, but I refused, because I’m not normally into historical fiction. I think you’ve convinced me now 😀

    I love sad novels. But I also hate them. I have a feeling this one will be one of those throw-into-a-corner-and-never-read-again books, not because it’s bad but because it’s so so so so so so SAD. 😥

    I shall get myself CODE NAME VERITY. Let the ugly sobbing commence.

  5. Omg, your review just makes me want to pick it up straight away because it sounds so freaking amazing! I’ll make sure to stick through the book in order for the amazingness that it is bound to offer. I haven’t picked it up because I’m not the biggest fan of WWII books but Verity sounds amazing.

  6. I am a pretty big YA historical fiction fan already, and this one sounds like an awesome read. There’s something about these stories and the fact that it could have been true that just make them so emotionally engaging. Great review Emily, now I definitely have to go and read this!

  7. Pingback: This Week: Stacking the Shelves and School Again | The Loony Teen Writer

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