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?
Code Name Verity is one of the most unique young adult books I have read. The writing style, the plot, the characters, everything was so fresh and interesting. This book has been getting some high praise and after reading it I definitely see why.
The story is told in journal entries; to be specific, a confession. Verity is being kept prisoner at the Gestapo headquarters and to buy herself time she convince the Haupsturmfuhrer to let her write out her story. The confession is a mix of past and present and sometimes Verity is cut off in the middle. It’s a rather stilted, choppy writing style but I don’t mean that in a bad way. Even though it does switch around a bit it never gets confusing.
Another interesting thing is that Verity doesn’t write her confession from her own point-of-view, she writes it from her best friend Maddie’s. For a good portion of the book you don’t even know who Verity really is but there are some clues that lead you to her identity. It adds a bit of mystery which I loved.
Verity herself is amazing. She’s brave, strong, smart, kind, and funny. Even in her confession she manages to add humor and I found myself laughing at some of the things she said and did. At a time when women were considered much less useful than men Verity stood out. She never let the fact that she was a woman stand in the way of what she wanted. She was one hell of a character.
The second half of the book is told from Maddie’s point-of-view and she is a much more reliable narrarator than Verity but not quite as fun. She’s a much more serious, reserved girl but it’s easy to see why she and Verity became friends. They brought out the best in each other and they were always there for each other. Code Name Verity is very much a story of friendship and their relationship was the best thing about it.
My only complaint with Code Name Verity is that there is a lot of airplane talk and lingo. Maddie is a pilot and that’s a huge part of the book. However I felt at times that there was a bit too much detail. It kind of bogged down the story and made it drag a bit at certain parts. This is a minor complaint though.
Last but not least I want to warn everyone to read this one with a box of tissues nearby. It’s a heavy book and I found myself crying quite a few times. Code Name Verity is packed full of emotion and I’m pretty sure you are heartless if you aren’t torn apart by it.
Overall, Code Name Verity is at the top of my recommendation list for historical fans. Elizabeth Wein is one master storyteller.