Aug 10, 2014

Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publishing Date: May 15, 2012
Pages/Format: 343, Hardcover
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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 TimesCode Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.

Book in One Word: WOW.

I went into Code Name Verity knowing a few non-specific things (I wouldn't call the following spoilers but if you want, skip to the next sentence): a quote--"KISS ME, HARDY! Kiss me, QUICK!"--that it's supposedly very good, and that there was a pretty good chance I'd cry (you bet your arse I did). And I kind of wish I didn't know the first or last things, because then this book may have been even better than it already it was and is. I think that in order to get the best experience from this book, you should go into it knowing virtually nothing. So for this review, I'm going to try and do just that (tell you very few specifics).

As the synopsis says, Code Name Verity tells the story of Verity--or rather, the story she is telling. When she--a spy--is captured by the Gestapo in France, she gets the chance to tell a story while sharing all the details on her work. And so she tells us of the friendship between her and Maddie: how they met, what they both did--and have been doing--for the war, and where they are now (at the time she is writing). I'd seen reviews saying some of the terminology and plane talk in this book was an issue, but I was surprisingly unbothered. Sure, I didn't always understand what was being said or described, and I'd nod my head along like sure, I remember what that abbreviation stands for and who that person is. But it never really was an issue for me--I didn't care.

What really classified this novel--which has a very literary quality to it--as good was the writing and, consequently, Verity's voice. I loved it. Love love loved it. Her voice--both internally and externally--was just so good. She could be serious and a little insane (and really, who wouldn't in her situation?), and she had excellent insults and would be insulted herself when called the wrong thing: "I am not English, you ignorant Jerry bastard, I am a SCOT." I think the writing and voice may have been the best part of this book, and might have even made it. Because seriously, SO GOOD. I must read all the Elizabeth Wein things now. (And oh my gosh, could you imagine reading an annotated version of this?! WANT.)

Code Name Verity does this thing with pacing. You're kind of in two places at once: where Verity is now (writing) and where she was (what she's writing). It goes back and forth and you're just waiting until the two catch up, waiting to see what on earth is going to happen. More than once something was happening and I looked at my book and I still had very many pages left so what on earth was happening?! I guess you could say this book was kind of a mindfuck, but I liked how the time and pacing worked here.

I could tell you so, so much about Code Name Verity (and inadequately, because I don't know that this review is doing a good job of telling you about this book), but then that would ruin the reading experience for you. Ah--how about this? I thought about this book, about how I could possibly name some living thing after some character from it. Then I saw it: Me, owning a horse. A horse named Verity. And my gosh, I want it. And so, Code Name Verity. A book that grabbed me by the reins rather quickly, especially when it kept mentioning William Wallace (Braveheart) and, even more so, Peter Pan. Read the story about adventurous characters risking their lives daily during World War II and a fantastic tale of friendship, and be entranced by the voice and the words, all the lovely words. And it's one of those books that inspires me to make fanart, and my, how I'd like to write something like this, in story and style. What more can I possibly say, except: read this (with tissues). (And I need to acquire Rose Under Fire immediately.)

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? I do believe so.
Would I reread it? Despite all the heartbreak, possibly forever and ever.
Would I purchase it? I already have a pretty hardcover with a lovely Printz sticker on it, but I think this is a book I want to own multiple editions of.
Who would I recommend it to? Every. Single. Person.

1 comment:

  1. This book! I love this book with all of my heart. The heart that it ripped right out of me, but still. I think I cried for a whole hour after I was done with it. Like all the tears happened...all of them!


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