Saturday, July 06, 2013

Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release date: May 15th 2012
Pages: 343
Genre: Young Adult historical
Source: Bought a signed copy at Books of Wonder!
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon
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?
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I'll admit that I was reluctant to read Code Name Verity. I don't read too much historical fiction, and especially World War II novels just aren't something I would usually pick up. But I'd heard such great things that, when I saw the signed copy at Books of Wonder, I just couldn't resist. Still, I went in with my expectations not too high - I wasn't expecting to love it as much as everyone else did.

And the novel does start out a little slow. For the first 100 pages or so, it was an embodiment of what I fear historical fiction to be like and what keeps me from reading it - too many little facts that confuse someone with only basic knowledge of the historical events, like me. The beginning is full of  details about planes, names of places and operations and war-related things that I had never heard of. Those little things confused me and made it hard for me to get into the story, and the unusual narrative took some getting used to as well.

But after sticking through the rough beginning, I began to see the brilliance everyone had been raving about. The farther you get in the novel, the more it all starts to make sense. All the little things I found strange about the narrative as well as the story in the beginning fall into place later on, and it's not till the very end that you understand the full genius behind it all. Having read the ending, I want to go back and reread everything to see how it all fits together.

I don't even know how to describe the brilliance of this novel. And I kind of don't even want to say anything, because the brilliance lies in not understanding anything until the end. (Then again, I'm like the past person in the blogosphere to read this, so what does it matter?) Either way, every part of Code Name Verity is brilliant. The plot is amazing - every twist took me by surprise. The characters incredible, too, even if you don't know it at first. And the writing, narrative, and set-up of the story are pure genius. The emotions, too - there was no full-on bawling, but I did shed some tears, and the novel moved me so much that I'm sure I'll still be thinking about it for a while.

Brilliant really is the only way to describe this novel. If you haven't read it yet, please give it a try, even if it is out of your comfort zone, like it was for me, and please don't be discouraged by the slow beginning. It is worth it, because you get a story that is pure genius, a novel that is unique and unforgettable.


  1. Every time I read another review about this book, I feel sad that I didn't buy it when I came across it in a second hand bookshop. Bummer. I always like it when books surprise you by exceeding your expectations :)


  2. I really loved this book. The two main characters were easy to connect with and the plot was excellent. The set up for the ending was very well done. Also, I learned a few things about WWII, female pilots, etc.


Please leave a comment - I love to hear what you think!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...