Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
To be published May 15th 2012 by Hyperion Books for Children
Source: Received for review from the publisher via NetGalley
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 and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
I don’t even know where to begin to review Code Name Verity. My hopes were high as I began reading due to all of the hype surrounding the title, which always feels like a bit of a gamble. But my hopes could have been even higher and Code Name Verity would not have disappointed me.
The phrase from the summary– “intricately woven”– is amazingly apt. As Verity writes her confession, trading her knowledge with the Nazis for a few more precious days, I felt vaguely ill, imagining the horrors that were to come. When Verity, referring to the war, “You always feel a little bit sick inside, knowing the worst might happen at any moment,”* it felt as if Elizabeth Wein knew what I was going through as I read her book.
Though seemingly a traitor, Verity is an amazingly brave and sympathetic character. Her captors are breaking her as best they can with the knowledge that her best friend has died, the screams of other prisoners, and her own torture. But she’s obviously angry over the great injustice taking place and she still she seizes on small moments of defiance. She also has her moments of caustic humor and times when her incredible intelligence comes through.
Historical novels– well-done ones– are a weakness of mine. and Code Name Verity absolutely qualifies. Elizabeth Wein did a clear amount of research to bring the terrifying times of World War II to life in excruciating detail.
Elizabeth Wein is also the master of surprise. I found myself sobbing rather violently through Code Name Verity’s resolution as she took me on a rollercoaster plummet of emotions.
Overall rating: 5/5. Masterfully written, Code Name Verity is a World War II novel that will break your heart.