Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity

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....

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Title:Code Name Verity
Author:Elizabeth E. Wein
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Code Name Verity Reviews

  • Maggie

    Do you remember when The English Patient came out? Or rather, do you remember when the

    about The English Patient came out? (Elaine goes to see it and HATES it, and is either shunned or dragged back to the theater to rewatch because everyone else loves it. She ends up getting sent to Tunisia by her boss, J. Peterman, because the movie was filmed there. Cameo by Holly the waitress/witch from True Blood playing a waitress.)

    I'm usually Elaine in these situations, so I worried a litt

    Do you remember when The English Patient came out? Or rather, do you remember when the

    about The English Patient came out? (Elaine goes to see it and HATES it, and is either shunned or dragged back to the theater to rewatch because everyone else loves it. She ends up getting sent to Tunisia by her boss, J. Peterman, because the movie was filmed there. Cameo by Holly the waitress/witch from True Blood playing a waitress.)

    I'm usually Elaine in these situations, so I worried a little bit after reading glowing review after glowing review of

    . However, this book held my attention from the beginning, and I want to send all the Elaines to Ormaie for inspiration.*

    Something that I see authors and filmmakers struggle with is how to portray a strong, kick-ass female who can hang with the boys and still retain her femininity. One way is to sexualize them a la Angelina Jolie, and another way is to claim they are the fiercest assassin of all time and then have them fawn over pretty dresses.

    Yes, I read

    just before Code Name Verity. Elizabeth Wein, however, makes it look so simple with her portrayal of Queenie. Little details like neatly arranged hairpins and well maintained fingernails say so much more than a ball gown, and it keeps you within the context of the story.

    Speaking of the story, it's set during World War II when most of the men are off fighting. Still, given the current state of YA, I fully expected a love triangle to somehow get shoehorned in. I did get a love story, but not the one I dreaded/expected.

    The friendship between Queenie and Maddie, two people from different backgrounds who wouldn't have met under ordinary circumstances, is one that I loved reading. It's the bond between two soldiers who contribute to the war effort in their different ways, whether it's aviation or language proficiency. The story jumps from present to past, but I loved seeing how their relationship evolved. One discussion that struck a nerve with me was when early in their friendship, they talk about their fears. In your 20s, the looming milestone is 30. When people asked me what I was going to do for 30, I would say, "Ugh, kill myself!" It's the vanity and arrogance of youth, of privilege, of safety. Queenie is the same, until that privilege is no longer in her control. She says,

    Queenie is one of my favorite characters ever, up there with Evanjalin from

    . Her intelligence and boldness comes through the page, and Wein's writing exemplifies the principle of "show, don't tell." I loved this story of war, camaraderie, and sacrifice. I loved Queenie's mother, who left the windows open in her house in the hope that her children would be home soon, because this is also a story about faith. Queenie and Maddie have to have faith in each other and faith in the strangers on whose help they depend. This was one of my favorite books of 2012, and one I highly recommend. I have told the truth.

    --

    *No Elaines were harmed in the writing of this review.

  • Katie Montgomery

    Page 2: DAMN this book is good.

    Page 25: GODDAMN this book is good.

    Page 60: This may be the best WW II novel I've ever read. EVER. SUCK IT, HEMINGWAY.

    Page 68: Crying.

    Page 70: Laughing.

    Page 113: Biting freshly manicured fingernails to smithereens DAMNIT WEIN I PAID FORTY DOLLARS FOR THESE NAILS.

    Page 150: Okay, so, I have to pee, but I really don't want to have to stop reading. This could get uncomfortable.

    Page 200: *THUMP* "Um, Katie, you OK up there?" "... It's cool. I just fell out of bed."

    Page

    Page 2: DAMN this book is good.

    Page 25: GODDAMN this book is good.

    Page 60: This may be the best WW II novel I've ever read. EVER. SUCK IT, HEMINGWAY.

    Page 68: Crying.

    Page 70: Laughing.

    Page 113: Biting freshly manicured fingernails to smithereens DAMNIT WEIN I PAID FORTY DOLLARS FOR THESE NAILS.

    Page 150: Okay, so, I have to pee, but I really don't want to have to stop reading. This could get uncomfortable.

    Page 200: *THUMP* "Um, Katie, you OK up there?" "... It's cool. I just fell out of bed."

    Page 233: *THUMP* "Um, did you just ...?" "... Yeah, again. Shut up."

    (I read the rest of the book over the course of the evening and since I am not pro-spoiler I will not continue with the emotional roller coaster except to say that there was one.)

    (Also, READ THIS BOOK. IT IS TRULY, TRULY SPECIAL.)

    PS - Watch for a Maximum Shelf issue from Shelf Awareness on this title ;)

  • Maggie Stiefvater

    I’ll confess right up front that I’m not usually a big historical fiction fan. I realize this seems somewhat hypocritical of me, as I was a history major in college and adore history, but a lot of times, I find historical fiction more impenetrable than a primary source document. The characters either don’t feel like real people to me, or they feel like modern people to me. I get distracted by historical info-dumps and bored by epic scale machinations. Basically, I like my historical fiction very

    I’ll confess right up front that I’m not usually a big historical fiction fan. I realize this seems somewhat hypocritical of me, as I was a history major in college and adore history, but a lot of times, I find historical fiction more impenetrable than a primary source document. The characters either don’t feel like real people to me, or they feel like modern people to me. I get distracted by historical info-dumps and bored by epic scale machinations. Basically, I like my historical fiction very personal and very intimate. So when I got sent a copy of Code Name Verity, I thought, okay. I’ll read twenty pages and then I’ll give it to my sister.

    But my sister has not yet gotten this book, because I don’t want to let it out of my house yet. I adored it.

    1. First of all, I believe it. The people feel like real people to me, and the details feel like real details. ARE they real details? Possibly not. We all slip up on our research sometimes, but man, this stuff feels genuine. The main character’s best friend is a pilot, and that part I knew was real even before I read that Elizabeth Wein had a pilot's license. I could feel the real-life love and knowledge of flying seeping through the pages. It was grand.

    2. It doesn’t feel like anything I’ve read before — certainly not in YA. Not just in genre or in subject matter, but just . . . the characters are unique and specific people and the situations they’re in are unique and specific. It feels like I looked through a tiny window into a real life, and that’s just not something you can cut and paste.

    3. As with all my favorite books, it rewards the careful reader. If an author can make me gasp once, it’s likely that novel is ending up on my favorites shelf. If an author can make me gasp THREE TIMES, either the author is making me read their novel underwater or it’s really cleverly done. This one’s really cleverly done. It was a three-gasper. When was the last time I read a three gasper? I don’t remember. Maybe when I read THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST underwater . . . Now, that said, CODE NAME VERITY is not a fast read. If you go into it expecting to whip through it in an evening or even two, you’re not doing it justice. Give the characters some time to infest your heart.

    4. It’s hard, but not harrowing. This is worth pointing out, because the central premise is that the narrator has been shot down over occupied France and is now being tortured for her confession. It could be awful. Sort of like BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, which I also loved, but would never read again because of how hard it was. This book, on the other hand — not only does it have so many lovely and sweeping moments, but it’s also surprisingly funny. I laughed out loud several times. Thought when I tried to explain to Lover why I was laughing, I invariably failed. LOVER: I thought you said she was being tortured? ME: Yeah, but, the Hitler line, it . . . never mind.

    5. It stuck with me. This, to me, is the Holy Grail of novels. I love some novels and forget them the moment they’re out of my sight. Other novels I love and then they become part of me for days or weeks or forever. I will be reminded of them at the strangest moments. CODE NAME VERITY does more than stick with me. It haunts me. I just can’t recommend it enough. I can’t even make this recommendation funny. I love it too much.

  • Rick Riordan

    My final foray into World War II territory (for now, anyway) is Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity, a young adult novel which really defies description, but I'll try. At its heart, Code Name Verity is the story of two young British women, Maddie and Queenie (or Julie), who undertake a secret mission behind enemy lines in Occupied France in 1943. The novel begins as a confession being written by Queenie while being held as a prisoner of the Gestapo. Clearly, her mission has gone terribly wrong. Qu

    My final foray into World War II territory (for now, anyway) is Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity, a young adult novel which really defies description, but I'll try. At its heart, Code Name Verity is the story of two young British women, Maddie and Queenie (or Julie), who undertake a secret mission behind enemy lines in Occupied France in 1943. The novel begins as a confession being written by Queenie while being held as a prisoner of the Gestapo. Clearly, her mission has gone terribly wrong. Queenie has been captured, tortured, and forced to write her story for her interrogators, and while that story is fiercely compelling in itself, the more we read, the more we begin to sense that there is more to Queenie and her mission that we are being told. Without giving anything away, I can tell you that there are games within games being played here. The whole experience for the reader parallels what the characters are feeling. Who is telling the truth? Whom can we trust? Who is an agent, a double-agent, a collaborator, a spy? Wein clearly knows her subject matter, whether it is airplanes (the author is a pilot) or life during World War II. Her characters are so real they leap off the page. Maddie and Julie embody courage, pluck and humor even in the darkest of circumstances. By turns heartrendingly sad and fiercely uplifting, Code Name Verity is the best YA book I've read in a long, long time. If you like historical fiction, or spy thrillers, or just books that constantly surprise you with, "OH MY GOD, THAT'S WHAT'S GOING ON???" moments, you should really read this. (I include both versions of the US cover, as it has changed. Which do you like best?)

  • Emily May

    I have a feeling I'm not going to be very popular by posting this review, everyone seems to love this book so far and I feel more disappointed in myself and my tastes than the novel or the author.

    is one of those books that are the reason why I created the shelf

    . I mentioned this very recently in my review of

    and it is also similar to the experience I had trying to read

    and

    . I just found 90% of the book long-winded

    I have a feeling I'm not going to be very popular by posting this review, everyone seems to love this book so far and I feel more disappointed in myself and my tastes than the novel or the author.

    is one of those books that are the reason why I created the shelf

    . I mentioned this very recently in my review of

    and it is also similar to the experience I had trying to read

    and

    . I just found 90% of the book long-winded and unnecessary.

    The novel opens where the narrator has been captured by the Nazi opposition during WWII. She is given paper to tell her story and she does so through the eyes of her friend Maddie. Different, definitely. Maddie's story is told in various anecdotes, a technique I've already failed to appreciate in

    but I suppose the intention was to subtly build up a picture of both girls' pasts and their friendship. This book is not very plot-focused or fast-paced, it's about conversations and people and female pilots during the second world war, which would all have been great if it had been balanced out with a touch of drama.

    I cannot tell you just how much I wanted to like this. It's about women's involvement in the war and us Northern girls - two topics that don't get nearly enough press. But, for me, there was just too big a focus on piloting and aircraft and I'm sorry but I struggled to care. If you read the author's note at the end she will tell you that this book is actually meant to be about pilots:

    And not enough else was brought in. There's only so many descriptions of a pilot's job I can sit through before I start to snooze, each to their own but flying planes has never been an interest of mine. The best parts of this book were the touching ending and the fact that the narrator is delightfully unreliable (I love them, I do! Eugenides, I miss you...) but I needed more. All I really want is for a book to rouse some passion in me, whether it be excitement, sadness, anger even... I felt nothing.

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