Book Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code name verity cover

Code Name Verity
By Elizabeth Wein
Goodreads | Amazon
Published: February 6th 2012
Rating: It’s like falling in love

“Don't know how I kept going. You just do. You have to, so you do.” 

Warning: I am going to gush and gush and gush about this book. This is a reread review.  I think that I have read this book four or five times now.  Maybe more?  Needless to say this is one of my favorite book of all times. I harp on about this book all the time.  All the time.  It is that good.

Code Name Verity is a love story.  It is not, however, a romantic love story.  It is about friendship and how it changes us.  How friendship makes us stronger, brings out the best in us, helps us to grow. It is difficult to talk about this book too much and not spoil things.  

I love that a story that is very much plot based and focused on what is happening also was able to explore deeper themes.  I especially loved the overarching motif of each girl's fears and how they change over time and affect the story.  

There are two narrators.  Verity (not her real name) and Maddie are  both written in first-person in the form of a diary/report.  Verity is a Scottish spy and Maddie is a blue-collar girl from Manchester who becomes a piolet. With two narrators sometimes I develop a strong preference for one over the other.  Or the voices are so similar that I can’t tell the difference between the two.  This is not the case in this book.  Both voices are vibrant and authentic.  It does feel as if the book was written by two different people.

The details of aviation were pretty much lost on me.  I did, however, appreciate that Elizabeth Wein knows her stuff and what she didn’t know she was willing to research.  I have done a LOT of reading about WWII.  Fiction and nonfiction.  While I am not an expert I can tell when a novel is well researched and when the author is winging it.  The research was well done here.  Conversely, there is never a point where I felt as if I was being hit over the head with the research.  The setting is simply crystal clear. There may have been minor errors but nothing that I noticed.

The writing was top notch.  The characterization and plot were particularly strong.  I was so desperate to know what was going to happen the first time I read this book that I stayed up until 2 in the morning so that I could read it in one shot.  I HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.  This is an indication that not only was the plot

This time I listened to the audiobook version (find the audible version here) which is one of my favorite audiobooks of all time.  Both actresses are spectacular.  Morven Christie in particular just ripped my heart out. I am SUPER choosy about audiobook narrators.  Even if it is a book that I know that I love I will still pass it over if the performance doesn’t work for me.  Thank goodness for the samples!

In short: if you have not read Code Name Verity then your life is incomplete.  Read it.  

From Goodreads:
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. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

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 the enemy? 

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called "a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel" in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.