Despite my love of historical fiction, I was cautious approaching this novel. I had previously heard that Code Name Verity was a tearjerker for many, and I was unsure if I was interested in reading a book that conjured heavy emotion after recently experiencing the rollercoaster that was Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. However, an adamant reader and friend of mine claimed it was a must-read. It follows, then, that I grabbed the nearest copy I could find and dove in. I was not disappointed.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Release Date: February 6th, 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
I have two weeks. You'll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.
That's what you do to enemy agents. It's what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dity work like mine--and I will do anything, anything to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogation me again.
He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I'm going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France--an Allied Invasion of Two.
We are a sensational team. (Goodeads)
My Bookish Thoughts:
The story begins in Verity’s perspective with a gripping introduction that describes her predicament and horrid living conditions. She calls herself a coward as she writes secrets behind her mission that could endanger other agents. I was enthralled.
I must admit, however, that only a few chapters later I feared Erica’s recommendation failed to please my interests. Past the exhilarating introduction, the pace slowed. Verity described the events leading up to her capture in painstakingly specific detail. This involved me at first, but swiftly bored me. Certain events felt repetitive and the story became dull as a result. Nevertheless, I refused to be a reader who abandons books without finishing them. I trudged through what seemed like intense boredom, and the plot picked up once more with information regarding Verity’s background with Maddie, the pilot of the crashed plane.
Nowadays, many books in the young adult genre fail to recognize strong female relationships. Instead, they pit girls against each other in petty arguments that detract from the storyline. I am happy to acknowledge that Code Name Verity broke this mold with Maddie and Verity’s close friendship. Wein spends time developing both characters’ points of view in the novel, which relay that the two care for each other. I loved reading about their mutual understandings of each other, especially as women working to gain respect in their fields during World War II. Although the time and place obviously differ, I think anyone can connect to the companionship the pair shared.
Wein provides readers with an inside look into the protagonists’ banter to enhance the meaning of their friendship and prepare readers for future events in Code Name Verity. The author ensures that these inside jokes and words carry a meaningful weight. Thus, when Wein reintroduces these key phrases later in the story, they are iconic. For instance, Verity’s famous reference to Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar, “Kiss me Hardy, kiss me quick,” will be inconsequential to nonreaders. The unfamiliar may assume that this line hints at romance, while only readers of this novel will realize the significance Wein has weighted these words with: friendship and trust in a deadly situation. Maddie and Verity’s conversations and noteworthy conversations drive the heart-wrenching plot twist that brought many readers to tears. As Verity herself spoke of the relationship, they “make a sensational team”.
These words also suggest audacious themes. The protagonists’ actions in the conclusion forces readers to comprehend harsh truths. Wein proposes that not all decisions are black and white; in other words, choices are often selecting the least terrible of horrible options. Consequences can lack “happy endings”, and Verity and Maddie must cope with these results in Code Name Verity.
To elaborate on the plot twist, I was stunned and saddened by the ultimate outcome. While the novel’s conclusion startled me, I have to applaud Wein’s masterful foreshadowing throughout the book. This foreshadowing made the ending doubly effective.
Now, I offer World War II enthusiasts and anyone seeking a suspenseful tale with memorable friendships a truth-or-dare of my own: experience harsh truths through Code Name Verity, or never understand the true meaning behind Verity and Maddie’s actions.
I gave the book 4 stars.
About the Reviewer:
Claire is a teen self-proclaimed bibliophile who adores sarcasm and terribly punny puns. On her blog, Cover to Cover, she reviews current literature and explores pensieves, among other activities. Her journeys through books have earned her the titles of Hogwarts student, Grisha, member of Aelin's court, Gallagher Girl, and citizen of Oz. When Claire isn't blogging or reading, she can be found running cross country and track, debating the topic of questionable importance with a friend, trying to get involved in organizations, or playing piano.
Connect with her on her Blog, Twitter, and Goodreads.