Friday, May 2, 2014

Review: Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publication Date: February 6, 2012
Genre: YA Historical fiction

Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. But only one of the girls has a chance at survival.

Arrested by the Gestapo, "Verity" is given a choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution. They'll get the truth out of her. Only, it won't be what they expect.

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called "a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel" in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.
3.5 Stars
"Must be lovely flying in peacetime." 
Five tries. It took me five tries, over the course of a year, to actually finish this novel. Not to say it was bad - on the contrary, actually - but  the confusing plot combined with my relatively short attention span made it difficult to actually finish Code Name Verity.
*pages of details on airplanes*
Me: Oh, look, a fly!
*confusing espionage stuff*
Me: Oh, look, I just finished a week's worth of Chemistry homework in advance! 
etc, etc. 
Really, for the first half of the novel, I was counting down the pages until I finished. I was bored, confused, and not at all interested in what I was reading. While I pride myself on being a history lover/fangirl/nerd, this is the first time I was actually irritated with the incessant details.

However, just as MANY people have promised, the book more than delivers in the second half. Things start to click and I gain a better understanding of the plot as a whole. As opposed to the first half, I was devouring the pages, and was saddened to see the story end.

"You know, the stupid man's big mistake was in calling me ENGLISH. It made my fury wholly convincing. A whore - maybe I'll consider that in desperation; filthy, it goes without saying; but whatever else the hell I am, I AM NOT ENGLISH."

My love for English Scottish Verity is endless.

I believe the only thing that pushed me to keep reading, at least in the beginning, was the authenticity of the narrator's voice. It felt as if Verity was standing in front of me, cynically describing her life with Maddie. At times it was hilarious and at others it was shockingly genuine.

Though I was not as immersed in the novel as I had hoped to be, the storyline was ingeniously mapped out. As I said, the puzzle begins to come together after an infuriatingly befuddling beginning.

*Sigh* The writing, oh the prose. I would love to meet Wein because I am itching to know how she perfects her writing so masterfully. Both Maddie and Verity have distinct voices and I think only truly talented authors can nail this.

Amidst the colorful details on airplanes, I wish the author had expanded more on the actual history of WWII. Yes, it was emphasized (obviously) but it would've been better if some airplane information was traded for more historically relevant information.

Throughout my life, I have always been a sucker for depressing endings. Call me a masochist  if you like, but I love the emotional ties you feel to a book after turning that last tear-stained page. If a book has a realistic ending - and there are exceptions to this rule - there is a likely chance that said book will brand itself on my heart for years to come. Wein undeniably took a huge risk with that ending, and her bravery is something I admire greatly. It's a friendship-war novel; inevitably, the two combined will most definitely lead to tragedy.

And oh man, their friendship. The feels.

The one word I can think to accurately describe Code Name Verity is unique, not only in the actual plot, but in its characters and prose. A truly timeless and unforgettable novel, Code Name Verity is brilliant, but the patchy first half left me somewhat disappointed. 

Apologies if my thoughts seem to be fluctuating from one extreme to the other.


  1. I totally agree with you about that first half. I was really confused about all the airplanes and it definitely came off as super boring rather than informative. BUT THEN THE SECOND HALF WAS AMAZING!

    1. I know that the author was like an expert on airplanes, but it was a bit much :/ So true! :D