The novel opens where the narrator has been captured by the Nazi opposition during WWII She is given paper to tell her story and she does so through the eyes of her friend Maddie Different, definitely Maddie s story is told in various anecdotes, a technique I ve already failed to appreciate in The Book Thief but I suppose the intention was to subtly build up a picture of both girls pasts and their friendship This book is not very plot focused or fast paced, it s about conversations and people and female pilots during the second world war, which would all have been great if it had been balanced out with a touch of drama.
I cannot tell you just how much I wanted to like this It s about women s involvement in the war and us Northern girls two topics that don t get nearly enough press But, for me, there was just too big a focus on piloting and aircraft and I m sorry but I struggled to care If you read the author s note at the end she will tell you that this book is actually meant to be about pilotsThis book started off rather simply as a portrait of an Air Transport Auxiliary pilot Being a woman and a pilot myself, I wanted to explore the possibilities that would have been open to me during the second world war And not enough else was brought in There s only so many descriptions of a pilot s job I can sit through before I start to snooze, each to their own but flying planes has never been an interest of mine The best parts of this book were the touching ending and the fact that the narrator is delightfully unreliable I love them, I do Eugenides, I miss you but I needed All I really want is for a book to rouse some passion in me, whether it be excitement, sadness, anger even I felt nothing.
Do you remember when The English Patient came out Or rather, do you remember when the Seinfeld episode about The English Patient came out Elaine goes to see it and HATES it, and is either shunned or dragged back to the theater to rewatch because everyone else loves it She ends up getting sent to Tunisia by her boss, J Peterman, because the movie was filmed there Cameo by Holly the waitress witch from True Blood playing a waitress I m usually Elaine in these situations, so I worried a little bit after reading glowing review after glowing review of Code Name Verity However, this book held my attention from the beginning, and I want to send all the Elaines to Ormaie for inspiration Something that I see authors and filmmakers struggle with is how to portray a strong, kick ass female who can hang with the boys and still retain her femininity One way is to sexualize them a la Angelina Jolie, and another way is to claim they are the fiercest assassin of all time and then have them fawn over pretty dresses See, she s tough but girlyYes, I read Throne of Glass just before Code Name Verity Elizabeth Wein, however, makes it look so simple with her portrayal of Queenie Little details like neatly arranged hairpins and well maintained fingernails say so much than a ball gown, and it keeps you within the context of the story.
Speaking of the story, it s set during World War II when most of the men are off fighting Still, given the current state of YA, I fully expected a love triangle to somehow get shoehorned in I did get a love story, but not the one I dreaded expected It s like being in love, discovering your best friend The friendship between Queenie and Maddie, two people from different backgrounds who wouldn t have met under ordinary circumstances, is one that I loved reading It s the bond between two soldiers who contribute to the war effort in their different ways, whether it s aviation or language proficiency The story jumps from present to past, but I loved seeing how their relationship evolved One discussion that struck a nerve with me was when early in their friendship, they talk about their fears In your 20s, the looming milestone is 30 When people asked me what I was going to do for 30, I would say, Ugh, kill myself It s the vanity and arrogance of youth, of privilege, of safety Queenie is the same, until that privilege is no longer in her control She says, I am no longer afraid of getting old Indeed I can t believe I ever said anything so stupid So childish So offensive and arrogant But mainly, so very, very stupid I desperately want to grow old Queenie is one of my favorite characters ever, up there with Evanjalin from Finnikin of the Rock Her intelligence and boldness comes through the page, and Wein s writing exemplifies the principle of show, don t tell I loved this story of war, camaraderie, and sacrifice I loved Queenie s mother, who left the windows open in her house in the hope that her children would be home soon, because this is also a story about faith Queenie and Maddie have to have faith in each other and faith in the strangers on whose help they depend This was one of my favorite books of 2012, and one I highly recommend I have told the truth.
Rating 5 5 stars This review appears on Young Adult Anonymous.
No Elaines were harmed in the writing of this review.
I ll confess right up front that I m not usually a big historical fiction fan I realize this seems somewhat hypocritical of me, as I was a history major in college and adore history, but a lot of times, I find historical fiction impenetrable than a primary source document The characters either don t feel like real people to me, or they feel like modern people to me I get distracted by historical info dumps and bored by epic scale machinations Basically, I like my historical fiction very personal and very intimate So when I got sent a copy of Code Name Verity, I thought, okay I ll read twenty pages and then I ll give it to my sister But my sister has not yet gotten this book, because I don t want to let it out of my house yet I adored it 1 First of all, I believe it The people feel like real people to me, and the details feel like real details ARE they real details Possibly not We all slip up on our research sometimes, but man, this stuff feels genuine The main character s best friend is a pilot, and that part I knew was real even before I read that Elizabeth Wein had a pilot s license I could feel the real life love and knowledge of flying seeping through the pages It was grand.
2 It doesn t feel like anything I ve read before certainly not in YA Not just in genre or in subject matter, but just the characters are unique and specific people and the situations they re in are unique and specific It feels like I looked through a tiny window into a real life, and that s just not something you can cut and paste 3 As with all my favorite books, it rewards the careful reader If an author can make me gasp once, it s likely that novel is ending up on my favorites shelf If an author can make me gasp THREE TIMES, either the author is making me read their novel underwater or it s really cleverly done This one s really cleverly done It was a three gasper When was the last time I read a three gasper I don t remember Maybe when I read THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST underwater Now, that said, Code Name Verity is not a fast read If you go into it expecting to whip through it in an evening or even two, you re not doing it justice Give the characters some time to infest your heart.
4 It s hard, but not harrowing This is worth pointing out, because the central premise is that the narrator has been shot down over occupied France and is now being tortured for her confession It could be awful Sort of like BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY, which I also loved, but would never read again because of how hard it was This book, on the other hand not only does it have so many lovely and sweeping moments, but it s also surprisingly funny I laughed out loud several times Thought when I tried to explain to Lover why I was laughing, I invariably failed LOVER I thought you said she was being tortured ME Yeah, but, the Hitler line, it never mind 5 It stuck with me This, to me, is the Holy Grail of novels I love some novels and forget them the moment they re out of my sight Other novels I love and then they become part of me for days or weeks or forever I will be reminded of them at the strangest moments Code Name Verity does than stick with me It haunts me I just can t recommend it enough I can t even make this recommendation funny I love it too much.
My final foray into World War II territory for now, anyway is Elizabeth Wein s Code Name Verity, a young adult novel which really defies description, but I ll try At its heart, Code Name Verity is the story of two young British women, Maddie and Queenie or Julie , who undertake a secret mission behind enemy lines in Occupied France in 1943 The novel begins as a confession being written by Queenie while being held as a prisoner of the Gestapo Clearly, her mission has gone terribly wrong Queenie has been captured, tortured, and forced to write her story for her interrogators, and while that story is fiercely compelling in itself, the we read, the we begin to sense that there is to Queenie and her mission that we are being told Without giving anything away, I can tell you that there are games within games being played here The whole experience for the reader parallels what the characters are feeling Who is telling the truth Whom can we trust Who is an agent, a double agent, a collaborator, a spy Wein clearly knows her subject matter, whether it is airplanes the author is a pilot or life during World War II Her characters are so real they leap off the page Maddie and Julie embody courage, pluck and humor even in the darkest of circumstances By turns heartrendingly sad and fiercely uplifting, Code Name Verity is the best YA book I ve read in a long, long time If you like historical fiction, or spy thrillers, or just books that constantly surprise you with, OH MY GOD, THAT S WHAT S GOING ON moments, you should really read this I include both versions of the US cover, as it has changed Which do you like best
A Scottish girl, called Verity in a nice bit of obfuscation is the name accurate or ironic , is captured by the Germans in France during WWII Apparently broken by Nazi torture, she begins to write her confession, doling out bits of information to her Nazi captors to motivate them to keep her alive and refrain from further torture She has been spying for the Allies, so her prospects for a long life are dim.
Verity tells the tale of her involvement with the British war effort, spiced with bits of information about airplane types and airfield names to keep the Nazis at bay But somehow her writing tells about her developing friendship with Maddie, a British pilot who against all rules and regulations for female pilots flew her to France for this mission The two girls come from different walks of life and have different talents and interests, but as they are periodically thrown together during the war they find that they are kindred souls.
It s like being in love, discovering your best friend.
This book also shows so many different faces of heroism, sometimes in heartbreaking ways It s not an easy or light read I think I spent the last 50 pages sniffling and wiping my eyes I can t say it s a perfect book There are some slow parts where I just wanted the story to kick into a higher gear We already read about this event from a different POV and know what happened, so why are we belaboring this part of the past Move along And it s non linear, moving back and forth between the past and the present, and backtracking to tell another character s point of view I m all for creative storytelling but I think that particular device has been overused lately Not everything about the plot is plausible, so there was a little belief stretching than I like to have to use in a non SF Fantasy book And, of course, lots of wartime angst and misery, although it s handled with a fairly light hand older YA level than adult.
On the other hand, it s got some really intriguing twists in the plot and a lot of unexpected depth, and some great writing It s well worth your time just don t read it when you want something light and fun There s humor and joy in it, but also great pain It moved me, and it will stick with me.
Initial post I just finished this story of two friends, a British woman and a Scottish one, helping with the WWII effort I m a quivering bundle of goo I don t think I can be objective about this book for a day or two There were a few slow parts and pain and angst than I usually like in my fiction, but some really wonderful parts to it as well I m going to call it 4 stars for now and see how it settles.
Oct Th, 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 Harrowing And Beautifully Written, Elizabeth Wein Creates A Visceral read Of Danger, Resolve, And Survival That Shows Just How Far True Friends Will Go To Save Each Other Code Name Verity Is An Outstanding Novel That Will Stick With You Long After The Last Page Reviewing this book feels much like walking through a minefield Not that I know what that feels like, but I can imagine, you know On the one hand, I can t reveal too much of the plot I can t reveal almost anything, really, lest I ruin the experience for you guys On the other hand, I have to write just enough to make you want to pick this book up because it s one you don t want to miss Trust me I suppose I could just point you to Maggie Stiefvater s wonderful review and leave it to her to convince you, but I m not that much of a coward coughs I just did that coughs So here goes nothing I don t normally read historical fiction unless it s highly recommended Code Name Verity was, directly or indirectly, recommended to me by two of my trusted friends, Chachic and Jo, and, as I already mentioned, my favorite young adult author Maggie Stiefvater And of course they were right Code Name Verity is a story about two best friends, Maddie and Queenie, fighting in World War II They probably never would have met in peacetime, as they come from entirely different circles of society Queenie is Scottish royalty who grew up in a castle, while Maddie is a bike shop owner s granddaughter That didn t stop them from becoming best friends while serving together in WAAF Women s Auxiliary Air Force , and staying close even when the war took them in different directions All Maddie ever wanted was to fly airplanes She was in training before the war and when the war started, she waited patiently for them to accept female pilots, which eventually they did Queenie s talents lie elsewhere she is fluent in both German and French and able to momentarily slip into any role, be herself one second, and someone entirely different the next Although these two have very little in common on the surface, deep down they are both incredibly strong, intelligent and compassionate women But for me, the most fascinating character was Queenie s capturer, Hauptsturmf rer von Linden He starts as pure evil, of course, but as the story progresses, we are offered small details of his life that give him an entirely different face, one that is complex and multi layered and that causes the reader to be just as conflicted as Queenie I don t know what I expected, but he just looked like anybodylike the sort of chap who would come into the shop and buy a motorbike for his lad s 16th birthday like your headmaster.
Our story starts when Queenie gets captured by the Gestapo in France Upon breaking her with torture and turning her into a collaborator, von Linden allows her to write down the events that led her to his cruel hands, and her written testimony is what we are given The narrative itself takes some getting used to Queenie tells her present story in first person, but switches to third person and focuses on Maddie every time she talks about the past It was a little strange at first, having the narrator talk about herself in third person, but I soon realized that it was an excellent way for Wein to help her readers adapt to constant alternations between the past and the present Every once in a while you know that you ve stumbled upon a classic Code Name Verity might have been published in 2012, but there is no doubt in my mind that it will endure the test of time It has the weight although not quite the genius of The Book Thief I m sure it will receive awards and critical acclaim Also posted at The Nocturnal Library A note This review is going to be a bit vague because I really, really, reallyreally don t want to spoil this book for anyone Because oh my gosh.
A note on the note This review really is going to be vague unlike all my other vague reviews which go on for about a year The first thing I did after I finished reading this book was to pick up my phone and text my best friend, who I have known since I was eleven and has been there through every single one of my problems and ill advised fringes, and tell her that I loved her.
The second thing I did after I finished reading this book was flip back to the beginning and start reading it again I don t mind admitting that it took me and this book a while to really get going The way this book was written with all the capital letters bothered me and the changing in perspectives and everything really confused me It took me a good 100 pages to get into but seeing as this book is over 400 pages long that was absolutely fine.
And after those first 100 pages, I learnt the truth and that is This book is fantastic.
I knew I d love it when I was noseying at the wonderful Chachic s status updates and then I read the synopsis.
Spies Pilots Codes Secrets History Best friendsMancuniansThese are a few of my favourite things I loved the setting I loved the plot I loved the era And the twists absolutely threw me although, I did have the smallest of small inklings of one thing but that s only because I have a clever dad who eats history books for breakfast and I accidentally asked a question that got made me put a few things together The twist and the ending I just can t even think about them without jibbering.
Code Name Verity is The Usual Suspects of YA literature.
Like I said above, the second thing I did after I finished reading this book was to go back to the beginning and read over certain parts again I know that this book will be one of those books that will get better and better every time I read it.
I loved Verity I loved Maddie They were real girls They laugh, they cry, they flirt with boys, they gossip, they re loyal, they fly planes, they can land planes, they can speak different languages, they can crack codes, they can do the unthinkable, they do the right thing I loved that, with Maddie and Verity, Ms Wein showed that you can be strong, you can be brave, you can be good at what you do, you can be the best at what you do and you can do all this without sacrificing your femininity and or becoming a passive aggressive message There was never a sense that these ladies did what they did in a Look Look We can do it too We re just as good as boys and because they had something to prove.
They were such rich and beautiful characters and I loved, loved, loved them both so dearly And, anyway, boys didn t even get a look in They wouldn t be able to keep up with any of the girls in this book.
Pffft The phraseCareless talk costs livesis mentioned frequently in this book and I couldn t help but be reminded of this poster Here Also, the fact that that I own that very poster bought from the Imperial War Museum North, I ve still not been to the London one, or the Churchill War Rooms, yet one day and it is hanging up on my bedroom wall.
that helped too So that s it That s my review It doesn t do this book justice in the slightest but it s the best that I can do.
Arm yourself with tissues, read this book, prepare to be amazed and always fly high read this review and lots of other exciting things on my blog here.
this book everyone on goodreads, stymied by the impossible task of saying anything about what happens in this book without giving away the entirety of it, sputters and stutters and eventually says, read IT read it read it read it readit readit readitreaditreadit PLEASE read ITthere s moira s lovely review but most of it is blacked out read it for the enthusiasm and sense of wonderment come back to it after you ve read the book and click the spoiler link so you can have the book explained to you in case you missed something you won t have missed anything.
ten things about this book1 it s like nothing i ve ever read 2 it s about war, torture, weapons, airplanes, piloting, motorcycles, and lots of mechanical things and it s entirely staffed by women 3 you won t understand how on earth elizabeth wein could possibly have come up with something like this and you will worship her with abandon until you read the author s note at the end don t read it until you finish , at which point you will still worship her but at least you will have a sense of how she came up with this 4 you won t know this is the reason, but the fact that this is a story of women that s also a story of war, torture, weapons, airplanes, piloting, motorcycles, and lots of mechanical things will keep you off balance the whole time this is not what books with women characters look like it doesn t compute 5 it s genius plotting and genius writing and genius heart.
6 it s about women loving each other fiercely with a love you wish you had or had had or could have right now because you need it.
7 it s about pain and hardship but it s incredibly tender.
8 it sings 9 it s a slow read read it slowly as maggie stiefvater says, give the characters some time to infest your heart 10 it s not ya, or i don t understand the ya category at all here s my theory someone decided it was ya because it s about young not teen young women instead of, you know, men or because EW writes ya or because there are no profanities, no sex, and no drugs or all of the above 11 if historical fiction bores you, get over it, this one time i m not crazy about it either, in fact i avoid it like the plague 12 thank you, elizabeth wein, you should have gotten first prize.