Review of “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein

This story, which takes place in 1943 in Ormaie, France during the German occupation of World War II, begins with first person narration by a young(ish) female – “Verity” – who parachuted into France from Britain and was captured by the Gestapo as a spy. She has been able to defer being shot by promising to write out everything she knows about the British War Effort. (In addition to getting a few more weeks of life, she will also get pieces of her clothing back as she parcels out her secrets.) Thus, Code Name Verity is presented as a journal of a confession.

Verity tells her story from the viewpoint of her best friend Maddie, who happens to be the pilot who dropped her into France. Verity does this because somehow she ended up with Maddie’s ID when she was picked up. She writes “if I tell you about Maddie you’ll understand why we flew here together.”

In the course of writing about Maddie and their mission, Verity reveals her love for her best friend, and also keeps the reader apprised of what is happening to her during her imprisonment. The other prisoners despise her for her betrayal, but Verity admits to being a coward, and she has, moreover, been cruelly tortured.

Verity ends her confession by repeating over and over: “I have told the truth. I have told the truth. I have told the truth.” … And then comes Part 2.

Evaluation: This is one of those stunning books that ends up not being what it seems, which is why one should really read it twice for maximum enjoyment. I admit I didn’t like it much at first – too much detail, I thought, about planes and terrains – but I knew there had to be a reason for all the encomiums so I kept going, and was richly rewarded for it.

I liked very much the relationship between Verity and Maddie. It seemed more a matter of partner-love than friendship, but we never really know one way or the other. Nor, perhaps, do they. Either way, one couldn’t help but be drawn in by the loyalty and devotion between these two young women. And these are young women one can’t help but admire; they provide a couple of great role models for female readers.

Most of all, I loved the very last paragraph, about “lace and roses” – I wish I could reproduce it here because it’s so endearing and heartrending, but it’s simply too spoilery!

Highly recommended!

Rating: 4/5

Published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group, 2012


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19 Responses to Review of “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein

  1. Mystica says:

    This one is definitely for me.

  2. Beth F says:

    Wow. I’m not sure I would have even considered this one until I read your review. Now I’m curious about the women’s relationship and that spoilery last paragraph.

  3. Sandy says:

    IT’S ON THE LIST!!! THE SHORT LIST! I’d say I’ll be getting to this one within the next five print books and I’m pretty excited about it. And everyone says you feel like you want to re-read immediately when you turn the last page, so it is going to be one of those reading experiences when I have to slow down and pay attention, like Jellicoe Road.

  4. BermudaOnion says:

    This book is getting rave reviews and it sounds like it’s for good reason. It’s nice to see a book set in that time period about strong young women.

  5. Barbara says:

    Wow! A different plot for a book. This sounds really good and I’m going to look for it.

  6. I just got this book and I’m hoping to get to read it very soon!

  7. Bookworm1858 says:

    After finishing this, I immediately wanted to go back and read it again because it is just *that* good. I’ve since made a few other people read it and they have also agreed that this book is fabulous! My favorite book of the year so far.

  8. and then comes part 2 huh?
    …quite the hook! lol

  9. Jenners says:

    There better be a payoff if I have to read about planes and such!

  10. I thought THIS BOOK SOUNDS TOO HEAVY FOR ME… and then you get us all curious…

  11. Ditto what Jenners said! 🙂 It sounds lovely though.

  12. zibilee says:

    I have heard such high praise about this book, and really need to read it soon. It sounds like it’s really rich in the surprise department, and that makes me all the more curious. Fantastic review today, Jill. You have totally convinced me that I need to read this one very soon. I know I won’t be disappointed.

  13. Lisa says:

    Don’t know why but for some reason I’ve been kind of skimming over the other reviews I’ve seen for this one. Glad I didn’t do that with your review – I might never have picked up this book which, clearly, I need to do!

  14. aartichapati says:

    Gosh, this is one of those books that EVERYBODY LOVES. I really must check it out. Hopefully my reaction to it isn’t like my reaction to The Night Circus, where I didn’t really get what all the fuss was about…

  15. Staci@LifeintheThumb says:

    I’m all over this one….must get my hands on a copy and soon!

  16. Trish says:

    This is one of those that I’d really like to read–especially after reading Kristi’s review. Though I’m really not sure how I feel about the cover art! Is that weird?

  17. I just loved this one, the tone, their relationship, how it surprised me. You’re right about that last paragraph…I really need to re-read this one to catch all those things I missed the first time around!

  18. Kristi says:

    Thanks for linking to my post. I too thought their relationship seemed more like partner-love too in the first half of the book and by the end I kind of forgot about that. I’m glad you mentioned it.

    I had a tough time getting into this one as well, but by the end it makes sense. I have yet to read it again. I gave my copy to my mom to read. I really want to though, so I may just buy another copy. I really want to read the first half again especially.

  19. stacybuckeye says:

    Jill, you get me to consider the most unlikely books! You’ve made me want to read this one!

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