Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein. The GoodReads summary:
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?
After taking a full 24 hours to try to figure out what I thought about this book. I’m still a little undecided. But I think, since the time has come for me to commit to an opinion, that it was a book that I really admired but didn’t really love. Because while there were some things the book did absolutely brilliantly, I never really felt that level of investment that I need to indisputably adore a book.

The book takes place in World War II England and France. Now, I’m a bit of a history nerd, especially when it comes to military history, but even I thought there was a bit too much of a history/aviation lesson at the beginning. I mean, it was interesting, and I learned some things, but it held back the story from really taking off, and as a result I didn’t get totally into the book until about halfway through.

I also never felt a particularly deep connection with either Maddie or Julie. I mean, they’re both really talented and brave, but Maddie came off as a little bland while Julie I never felt like I really got to know. I did like Queenie though, which was weird (you’ll understand why it’s weird that I liked Queenie but not Julie if you’ve read the book). I just thought Queenie, as described by Julie, was so glamorous and awesome, while Julie and Maddie didn’t seem to have that same spark.

And now for what the book did bloody brilliantly! The book was SO good at messing with my head. Just when I thought I knew what was going on, it would turn out I really didn’t. Events weren’t what I thought and neither were the characters. It’s like the first half of the book had me believing one thing, and then the second half completely turned that on its head. I’m trying not to go into spoiler territory here, but it’s really hard, since a lot of the specific things I thought the book did well are kinda impossible to describe without spoilers. But seriously, I can’t remember the last time that I read a book that threw me for a loop as often as this one did. And then, when I did find out what was going on for real, it was fun to think back and find all the hints that the author left that I didn’t pick up on the first time around.

Overall, I’d recommend this book if either you like history, or if you want a book that’ll play some mind games on you. If you do decide to read it, it might take you a while to get into the book, but persevere! I think it’ll end up being worth it.

Rating: 4 / 5 (probably it’s more of a 3.5 for me, but the spoilery surprises I can’t talk about were so awesome they bumped the rating up a bit)


  1. This has been my favorite read of the year so far! So sorry it wasn't as strong for you-I know not everyone can love every book in the same way.

  2. I've heard SO many good things about this book. I actually had it on hold at the library and never made it to pick it up. Oops! I'll have to try again to get it. I haven't read an historical novel in a while, but I do love them when they're done right. Glad to see you liked this!

  3. To be honest, I think I'm just about ready to reread this. I know what you mean about it being hard to get into at first, it was the same for me, but I felt deeply connected with the characters by the end and I guess that's what made the difference for me.
    I love how well-articulated and honest your review is.
    New follower. :)

  4. I adored this one! I was bawling my eyes out by the end - but I know what you mean about it being a bit tricky to review - the potential for giving away spoilers is quite high and you did well!


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