Saturday, March 8, 2014

Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Year Published: 2012

Genre: YA fiction (mystery)
Pages: 332
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2014 Google Reading map): UK and France


FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): When "Verity" is arrested by teh 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. They'll get the truth out of her. But it won't be what they expect.

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, failure, and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from a merciless and ruthless enemy?

Review: I have read a lot of books set in World War II and even a couple spy books (not usually my favorite), but this one definitely had its own outlook and perspective on the genre.

First off, female spies?! Awesome. It turns out there were a number of women allowed to fly planes during World War II, just not in combat (except in Russia where women were employed as combat pilots in the 1940s). Female pilots were allowed to shuttle planes around the United Kingdom, taking planes from one airfield to another and shuttling passengers (both military and civilian) where they needed to go. And yes, there were some female spies as well. It turns out the author did a lot of research into the roles women played in Britain during WWII in order to make this work of fiction plausible.

We get the story from the perspective of both main characters, Julie and Maddie. Julie's version is the first half of the book and I would rate that section a 4 out of 5. It gets quite confusing at times since there are so many characters and lots of them seem to have code names. I did like that we know the narrator/spy is in the hands of the Nazi Gestapo and that they are allowing her to write down her story. This is how we learn all about Julie and Maddie's friendship, Julie's background, and how she came to be in the Gestapo prison. I found the second half of the book, Maddie's story more interesting, but perhaps that is because her story fills in the gaps and reveals much more.

Overall this is a good novel about a little known aspect of World War II and I recommend it if you are interested in that time period.

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