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:
WOAH. JUST WOAH.
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).