Review: Code Name Verity

◆ Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
◆ Read October/November 2014
◆ English Edition
◆ Purchase: The Book Depository
◆ 
❝ 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? 
There are so many things I loved about this book, to the point that I literally could not think of a single criticism. It was that good. Not only is it World War II themed, it's about women being awesome, and it gave me a tremendous amount of feels (which is not a bad thing). 

First things first, I think the author did a really great job at keeping the story historically accurate. She mentioned that she took some artistic freedom here and there, but I barely noticed. The vast majority of the details - from dress styles to plane types to certain events - felt like they belonged to 40's. Though all of these WWII details were interesting enough on their own, the spy aspect made it that much more exciting. It was just so thrilling to read about the mission, what Verity had to go through and the Resistance.

Now I love a story about love and romance just as much as any other person, but it was so refreshing to find a book that was not about that. The entire focus lay on Verity and Maddie's friendship and I loved that about it. Friendships are so often overshadowed by love stories in books even though they are just as interesting. Though there was slight hinting at a love interest for Maddie, it stayed in the background and was barely explored at all. In fact, pretty much every male in the story was a secondary character and mostly present in the background. It was all about the females and what they did in the war effort. And let's be honest, Maddie and Verity felt incredibly real as characters and they they kicked ass!

Though I only figured it out about halfway through the book, Verity is an unreliable narrator, and I think it's this aspect of the book that makes it so brilliant. The first half of the book was written from her point of view and certain issues that were discussed were seriously cringe worthy. Like the fact that Verity gave up eleven wireless codes.  Or that she was writing a written account of events and giving away lots of valuable information while doing so. It gave me the wrong impression of what Verity was like. When the twists and revelations came in the second part of the novel, I had a big oh moment and my opinion of Verity changed. She was very witty and funny all along though, and I liked some quotes so much that I wanted to include them here:
“A whore, we've established that, filthy, it goes without saying, but whatever else the hell I am, I AM NOT ENGLISH.” 
“Nothing like an arcane literary debate with your tyrannical master while you pass the time leading to your execution.”
I even liked the ending. It was unexpected and it made me feel incredibly sad, but somehow it was fitting at the same time. It was not a closed ending, but I still felt at peace when I closed the book. I loved the focus on the two women and their friendship, but it was the cleverness of the way the story was composed and how the puzzle pieces came together in the end which made me give Code Name Verity five stars. The book might possibly even make it on my list of all time favorites!

5 stars because:
✓ Historically accurate portrayal of WWII
✓ Focus on friendship
✓ Female protagonists
✓ Plot twists abound!

 

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