Review: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Genre:  War Novel, Young Adult
Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion (15th May 2012)
Source: Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley
Format: e-book ARC

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.

Rating: *****
(5 stars)

Code Name Verity is a story about two best friends set in the middle of World War II. Both girls are involved in the Allied war effort.

As the author acknowledges in the “author’s debriefing” at the end of the novel: Code Name Verity is fiction, but hang it all – it feels real. It feels like “Verity” and Maddie are two very real girls caught up in some quite horrific events. As I read and delved deeper into the novel, I found myself rooting for both girls. The author is even kind enough to include a bibliography, so that if we choose we can find out more about the real people involved in similar situations in WWII. Fair warning, this novel made me cry. Books don’t often make me cry, but this one did. Even thinking about it now, my eyes well up. This is a beautiful and extremely sad book. It is not a book for the faint-hearted and those who have triggers should be aware – there are mentions of torture within its pages.

One of the things I liked most about this novel was how it was set out. It was brilliantly done. At no point in the narrative did I have any idea how the book was going to end. There are so many twists and turns along the way. “Verity” and Maddie are compelling characters. You can see their deep friendship on the pages, and how much they mean to on another. They are brilliant protagonists. The secondary characters were also brilliant and came alive on the page, from “Verity”‘s youngest elder brother who appears from time to time, to “Verity”‘s Nazi interrogators and the other prisoners – who we never actually meet.

This is one of the most beautiful and heart-breaking war novels that I have read, and I have read a few (all for my English Lit A-Level). On the whole this was a pretty accurate book, although there are discrepancies (as the author acknowledges), but they didn’t take anything away from the story. Code Name Verity is a book that affects you; it made me think of all the real-life people who would have been in similar positions to “Verity” and Maddie during WWII – of those who gave their lives.

9 thoughts on “Review: Code Name Verity

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