Sunday, October 14, 2012
Code Name Verity Book Review
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Publication Date: May 15, 2012
Reading copy via library
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein has gotten so much buzz since it was published that it took me awhile to get my hands on a copy.
It's the story of two young women during World War II, one a pilot and the other a spy, who crash in occupied France. It's ultimately the story of their friendship, the kind of friendship that only the best of best friends have.
But I have to tell you, when I started reading it, there was some WTF is going on? The narrative is broken into two parts and the first part belongs to the spy, who goes by many names, including Verity. She's supposed to write out spy information for the Nazis who have captured her and instead she writes how she and Maddie, the pilot, met and became friends.
This narrative includes all the standard conventions of a novel, including Maddie's interior thoughts and speech attributions. And I'm thinking, what kind of Gestapo officer would allow this? They've already tortured Verity so they're not going to humor her and let her go down memory lane about her best friend. If they don't think they can get information out of her, they'd kill her. Easy, peasy. (That's a little joke. Maddie says "Easy, peasy" all the time.)
After about ten pages of this, I decided I either needed to go with the convention that the author has set up or I'd have to give up on the novel. I decided to go with the convention. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that after awhile the reader understands the Gestapo officer better and it's within in the realm of possibility that he'd allow Verity to write her novel/confession as she does.
Once I gave into the narrative, the book is a complete joy. Wonderful story, wonderful characters. There's fabulous period details and even walk-on characters have personality. The second half of the novel is Maddie's side of the story and there's much revealed that makes Verity's half so much more compelling.
I'd recommend to readers who enjoyed Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys or Witness by Karen Hesse.
Code Name Verity book trailer: