Saturday, April 27, 2013

Review: Code Name Verity

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Genre: Historical Fiction, YA, Suspense
Rating: 5/5


If you are a fan of historical fiction, you will love this. If you enjoy novels with unreliable narrators and layers of truth that need sorting and piecing together, you will also love this. And finally, if you think friendship is one of the most beautiful things on earth, you will love this book to death.

I don't really know quite where to start with this book. There are simply so many different sides to it, and I want to do it justice. This is a hard book to review simply because I don't want to accidentally let anything slip - there were so many "aha" moments when scraps of information clicked and I saw situations in a whole new light.

I was immediately hooked by the honest, open voice of the narrator in part 1. "Verity" is a spy who has been captured by the Nazis and is being tortured to tell them information about what the British are planning against them. She is keeping a written record of her memories and what she knows about the British plans, which is basically what you're reading. It's a pretty bleak situation, but there's plenty of dark humor and snarky asides that keep the tone from getting too depressing. Although the record is supposed to be what Verity/Julia knows about British airfields and maneuvers, it is really more about her friendship with Maddie. The friendship between these two young women was so beautiful, and I felt like their story was real. There were so many little moments and details that made it seem as though Elizabeth Wein was simply translating memories into a story.

The second part of the book is told from Maddie's perspective, and it sheds a lot of light onto what was going on with Verity/Julia. I don't want to spoil anything, but Maddie's portion made me see the first part in a whole new light. It was confusing having to rethink various "facts" but I think it was cleverly done. Also, the ending brought me quite close to tears. Truly, Maddie and Julia have an incredible friendship.

I really enjoyed the narrators' voices, and I really liked that they were strong women without having to keep affirming that to either themselves or the reader. They simply did what needed to be done, and their resourcefulness and courage were inspiring. I also appreciated how the characters would sob every once in a while - they are in such awful situations, and while crying usually makes people (especially women) seem weak, in this case it made them seem human. It was nice that they could freely admit when they'd been crying without feeling the need to make themselves look stronger or more resilient (because really, even though they cry, they really are remarkably strong people).

This book really resonated with me and I highly recommend it! 

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