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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
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Code Name Verity (edition 2012)

by Elizabeth Wein

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,9662123,456 (4.35)261
Member:EdGoldberg
Title:Code Name Verity
Authors:Elizabeth Wein
Info:Hyperion Book CH (2012), Edition: First American Edition, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:WW II, Verity, Kittyhawk, France, Nazis

Work details

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

  1. 30
    Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal by Mal Peet (faither)
  2. 20
    Firebirds Soaring: An Anthology of Original Speculative Fiction by Sharyn November (Herenya)
    Herenya: Firebirds Soaring contains "Something Worth Doing" (by Wein) about Theo, a pilot and minor character from Code Name Verity.
  3. 20
    Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith (rarm)
    rarm: Set on opposite sides of the pond, but both are about wartime aviatrices and wonderfully depict female friendship.
  4. 31
    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (amysisson)
    amysisson: Both are about the unusual ways in which women may impact the tides of war
  5. 10
    The Night Watch by Sarah Waters (ebr_aumkw, kgriffith)
  6. 00
    How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (amysisson)
    amysisson: Young adults struggling to survive in war-torn England -- although different wars (one real, one fictional) in different times! These books are different, yet I really feel that if you love one, you'll love the other.
  7. 00
    Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  8. 00
    A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper (calmclam)
    calmclam: Both focus on girls in/around England adapting to the changing circumstances of World War II via their journals.
  9. 01
    Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley (saraOm7)
    saraOm7: These are both about teenage girls working as spies in France during WWII, though one has a much happier ending than the other.
  10. 01
    The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (keeneam)
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» See also 261 mentions

English (210)  German (1)  All languages (211)
Showing 1-5 of 210 (next | show all)
Complex, dense historical novel about friends, one of whom is working for British intelligence and has been captured by the Nazis and is trying to stay alive.
  bfister | Feb 23, 2015 |
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is a YA novel set during World War II. I have previously read and reviewed Rose Under Fire, which is a companion novel — I want to say set in the same world, but that sounds silly when talking about a real world setting — with a small number of cross-over characters set a bit later in the war.

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?

After reading Rose Under Fire, I was expecting Code Name Verity to be as relentlessly depressing, but it wasn't. I mean, it wasn't exactly a cheery novel, but there was some black humour to it and less horror on the page. I suspect the take-away message from that is that concentration camps, featuring in Rose Under Fire, are basically the most depressing thing ever.


So if Code Name Verity isn't about a concentration camp, what is it about? Two British girls — one a Scottish aristocratic spy, the other an English mechanic and pilot — who end up behind enemy lines in less than optimal circumstances. The story opens in the form of Verity's written confession to the Gestapo in the French city where she's been captured. Verity quickly tells us that she's traded wireless codes for better treatment from the Nazis and is now writing out a sort of "everything she knows about the British war effort" confession. Partly due to the Nazi-in-charge's indulgence, but mostly due to her own gumption, she writes her confession in the form of a story centring on her friend Maddy, who flew the plane that brought her to France. There are a few "here are the aeroplane names I can think of" bits, but for the most part it is written in a narrative style. We even get some "here is what's happening with me and the Nazi interrogators" bits at the start of most days/sections.

The opening sentence of Code Name Verity is "I AM A COWARD." for selling secrets to the Nazis for personal comforts. But if you look at the New York Times quote on the cover... well it might give you a bit of a hint about the unreliable narration. Whether or not you take the confession at face value, it still makes for a good read. But I found myself particularly intrigued as to where the story was going to go next when, at a bit past half-way, I realised Verity's retelling was catching up to the present.

The second half of the book is kind of a spoiler for the first half so I don't feel like I can say much about it. But it strongly informs the first half (from the very start, I laughed out loud when a tiny detail threw a much earlier detail into a new light) and the story doesn't make sense without the complete package. Let's just say the narration becomes rather more reliable.

I really loved this book. Although it doesn't look long, it's a bit denser than other YA books I've read recently, so I had to inhale it over three days (interspersed with other reading) but still ended up staying up to finish it. The characters are loveable (well, not the horrible Nazis, obviously, but you know what I mean) and the story is gripping. I also couldn't help thinking that it's the kind of book that lends itself perfectly to being analysed in a high school English class and would have made better reading than most of the books forced upon me in school.

I highly recommend Code Name Verity to everyone, particularly anyone with even a passing interest in World War II. The focus on female pilots — particularly British ones — is both rare and interesting. An excellent read.

5 / 5 stars

Read more reviews on my blog. ( )
  Tsana | Feb 2, 2015 |
Very cleverly-woven story of best friends involved in a complex mission in Nazi-occupied France. More than half of the book is the "confession" of one of the women, written at the behest of her Gestapo captors in the form of a novel. I was disoriented at the beginning, but soon found my way into the story and got some context. In the end, everyone is very clever (including the Elizabeth Wein). Well-done. ( )
  TrgLlyLibrarian | Feb 1, 2015 |
I feel like this book could have been good if a few things about it had changed. Half of the book is written from "Verity's" point of view as she writes down her confessions on whatever pieces of paper her captors can scrounge up. Normally, it would be interesting/heart-wrenching to read about a character who has been tortured and forced to give up secrets in order to try and make the pain stop, however, the confessions that she writes is done is such an unrealistic way that it was distracting. Basically, she is allowed to sit there and write a novel about her life story from how she first go involved in the war to her capture. Wein tries to make this seem plausible by showing that the SS officer (SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer von Linden) in charge is actually a very literary person and enjoys a good narrative, by I'm not buying it. There is no way that the officer von Linden works under would allow this to continue. Von Linden probably would have been shot in the head long before "Verity" even got close to the juicy bits of the story. This alone was enough to ruin this whole section for me.

However, by the second half, it got better. Which is why this book isn't graded lower than it is. The second half is from the perspective of her friend of whom "Verity" talks about in her ever so lengthy confession. Maddie is a much more realistic character, and the manner of her writing down her experiences of hiding in occupied France makes much more sense as is acts as both a report on her plane crash and a diary. I also believe that Maddie is a much more interesting character than "Verity".

Maddie's constant fear of getting captured was very real, and not only did she worry about herself but she constantly worried about the family that was hiding her away, knowing that if she were caught, this family would surely die, or worse, be tortured by the Nazis. She was also the more relateable character as she is not actually a member of the military and so doesn't have the training for these situations like "Verity" has. She admits to her fear, and while she claims that she is a coward, Maddie is actually one of the bravest people in the whole book, as she does what needs to be done despite the fear that she feels. This, in my opinion, is true courage.

If this whole book were written in the perspective of Maddie, or if the "Verity" sections were short, and thus more realistic, I would have enjoyed this book much more than I did. As is, I can't give it a higher score since I really disliked half the book. And disliking half the book automatically disqualifies it from high scoring. ( )
1 vote kell1732 | Jan 25, 2015 |
Great book. Surprising ending. Told in a first person point of view and very craftily written. ( )
  hmskip | Jan 22, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 210 (next | show all)
If you pick up this book, it will be some time before you put your dog-eared, tear-stained copy back down. Wein succeeds on three fronts: historical verisimilitude, gut-wrenching mystery, and a first-person voice of such confidence and flair that the protagonist might become a classic character if only we knew what to call her. Alternately dubbed Queenie, Eva, Katharina, Verity, or Julie depending on which double-agent operation she's involved in, she pens her tale as a confession while strapped to a chair and recovering from the latest round of Gestapo torture. The Nazis want the codes that Julie memorized as a wireless operator, and she supplies them, but along the way also tells of her fierce friendship with Maddie, a British pilot. Though delivered at knifepoint, Julie's narrative is peppered with dark humor and minor acts of defiance, and the tension that builds up is practically unbearable.
added by kthomp25 | editBooklist, Daniel Kraus
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Weinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Christie, MorvenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gaskell, LucyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manger, WhitneyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
November, SharynEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Passive resisters must understand that they are as important as saboteurs." –SOE Secret Operations Manual, 'Methods of Passive Resistance'
Dedication
For Amanda

we make a sensational team
First words
I AM A COWARD. I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was. I have always been good at pretending.
Quotations
I have told the truth.
"Kiss me, Hardy!"
The soaring mountains rose around here, and the poets' waters glittered beneath her in the valleys of memory - hosts of golden daffodils, "Swallows and Amazons", Peter Rabbit. (p. 28)
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Two young women become unlikely best friends during WWII, until one is captured by the Gestapo. Only in wartime could a stalwart lass from Manchester rub shoulders with a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a special operations executive. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted to each other. But then a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France. She is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in "Verity's" own words, as she writes her account for her captors. Truth or lies? Honour or betrayal? Everything they've ever believed in is put to the test...
Haiku summary
Two girls, one friendship
we concealed in blood and ink.
I have told the truth. (octopedingenue)

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In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can.

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