Beaux's Reviews · Literature

Code Name Verity

code name verityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Take to the skies in this gut reeling, high flying adventure shared by two courageous women in World War II. But beware the barrage balloons.

Two best friends fly over France on a secret mission. Two best friends fall behind enemy lines. Two best friends find themselves at the mercy of the Gestapo and the Resistance. Two best friends recount their individual experiences, separated from each other, in sprawling ink over reclaimed blank pages of recipe cards, hotel stationary, and a field notebook commandeered from a Nazi officer. It’s honest, it’s torture, it’s espionage.

I already have a mile long list of “To Read” books so I wasn’t looking for something to read when this one sort of fell into my hands. I had read and loved a novel with a similar theme of female WWII pilots when I was a teenager so when a friend of mine offered Code Name Verity to me I jumped the queue and started reading it immediately.

It took me about a week to read, but only because I had to split my reading time between textbooks about the history of Islam, politics of Turkey, and mathematics. The writing is brilliant in that it is conversational and thus speeds you along page by page amping up your heart rate and forcing reader investment into the wellbeing and survival of the characters. But nothing is guaranteed in war and we remember that always as we flip through their story. The risk of death is ever impending.

I’m conflicted in which score to truly give for this review. While I’d love to offer it 5 stars, there is a strong piece of me that wants to give it 4.5 and here is why: it ended abruptly. The irony in this is that I loved reading the book so much that I wanted it to last longer (thus the 5 stars), but because it ended so quickly with many unresolved questions in the reader’s mind that has nothing to do with WWII and everything to do with the main character’s life thereafter I want to give it 4.5 stars. As a writer, I tip my hat to Elizabeth Wein. She’s left us wanting more and didn’t wrap everything up in a tidy little bow. As a reader, I think I would leer at here if I passed her in the street because I want – no – I need to know more about what happens next!

So I’ll rest at 5 stars. She’s earned them and the novel really is well worth it. It’s stated that this is a young adult fiction and, as I’ve only just found out, I am struggling with trying to accept that. So I’ll put it as simply as I can – don’t let the genre scare you off. If this is young adult fiction, it’s the Shania Twain of young adult fiction and can hop genres all it wants!

I highly recommend this read to men and women both, as much as teenagers. It’s a serious depiction of a history not always told of the women fighters, spies, pilots, and prisoners of WWII and the profound impact they had on the outcome of the war.

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