Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Publisher:  May 15th 2012 by Hyperion

Format: Hardcover borrowed from the local library

Reviewed by: Brittany from The Book Addict’s Guide

I’m not usually one for historical fiction, mostly because, well. I’m not usually one for history. All throughout my school days, nothing ever fascinated me about the subject so I always get nervous when I tackle books that entangle their fiction with factual events. I was pleased to find that even if you know nothing about World War II (my knowledge of the whole event is shameful), Code Name Verity is a fascinating and emotional read for anyone.

Plot:

World War II is in full swing and we first encounter Verity deeply tucked in the Gestapo headquarters, slowly spilling the story of Maddie, a British pilot. The Germans allow her to write the story with the promise of dozens and dozens of secrets. Verity knows that she’s only biding her time… When the story and the secrets run out, so will her life, but she will do everything she can to make sure the entire heroic tale of Maddie the pilot is known to all who read it.

Review:

Okay. I know that was a weak plot summary, but CODE NAME VERITY – like any novel about spies – has some great twists and turns so trust me when I say that the fewer specifics you know, the better! I will admit that it does make for a slow and slightly confusing start, but once you really get into the swing of things, it does pick up. Once I started to sort the characters out and figure out how all of the character stories intertwine, I slowly but surely became incredibly emotionally invested in them.

I thought it was fascinating to see World War II through the eyes of two teenage girls. I had never really thought of teens being an active part of the war but here we really see young adults in prominent roles – pilots, spies, confidants, soldiers, gunmen. It’s all very exciting! I think the fact that we’re getting the war’s story from young adults brings a whole new aspect to the journey these two girls go on. It’s a little frightening that these two girls are getting their first significant “life experience” by participating in big roles in the WAR. I honestly cannot imagine being in either of their shoes at any point in time in this book!

Let’s take a step back here… In all honesty, CODE NAME VERITY is based in World War II and yes, without the war aspect, this would be a totally different book… But the war is not really what this book is ABOUT. This is a book about friendships. About strength. About determination and passion. Our two main characters forge such an incredible friendship kindled by an amazing spirit and a passion that bleeds through every task they set their minds to. Although I think I’m pretty independent, I’m not one for feminism but we do see these feminist themes start to arise when Maddie fights to fly simply because she’s a girl. We see it in a different way when Queenie uses her femininity to aid her as an ally and an agent performing delicate tasks to combat the Nazis.

Besides just being an emotionally gripping story, CODE NAME VERITY has its own twists and turns that surprised me quite a few times! That really added the little something extra that pushed me over the edge from liking to loving this book. There were several times when this book shocked me and in so many different ways.

Overall, I’d give it a 9.75/10. I felt SO MANY FEELINGS while reading this book and it was so much more than I expected. I knew I was going to feel a lot, but there was a lot of intrigue and amazing character AND plot development.

Based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the heroine(s): 10. I absolutely loved Maddie and I loved our narrator, Verity. I think it took just a little bit to get into their stories, but once you see how they intertwine, it’s just so amazing. I loved seeing the friendships forged in this book and how those friendships make each individual stronger in their own rite.

How much did I like the love interest: Ehhh there wasn’t really much of a love interest! Just a bit for Maddie, maybe, but the book didn’t really delve into it.

How believable is the plot: 10. CRIMINEY. I felt like I could picture all of these events happening around me as I was reading and it was downright frightening. I just honestly can’t picture myself volunteering like these girls had and their bravery astounded me, but that happened all the time in the war. And if they didn’t volunteer, SOMEONE had to do the job. This is definitely a time that I appreciated historical fiction and how REAL it felt.

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 9. The beginning of the book is just a liiiittle slow (don’t give up on it quickly!!!!) but I felt like once the book got into its rhythm, it was pretty amazing.

How much did I want to keep reading: 10. I know it’s a standalone (and actually probably better that way), but there were so many more things I wanted to know after the book ended! Usually questions after a book ends are a bad thing, but with CNV it was more like… I ended up getting to know these characters, I was invested in their stories, and I really wanted to know what happens next.

Final Score: 9.75/10. Even if you’re not a history buff, CODE NAME VERITY is a book filled with mystery, excitement, action, and emotions – there’s something in there for everyone and I really feel like anyone can open this book, dive in, and get completely lost in this story.

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4 thoughts on “Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

  1. This is definitely going to my Must Read list – and not just because it reminds me of the part in Sweet Valley Saga where Marjorie fights with the French Resistance. (Although those are totally my favorite chapters.)

  2. Bought this today at the bookstore! Thanks Brittany for the recommendation! (and my aunt and uncle for the gift card which allowed a poor grad student to buy a hardcover book!)

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