Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1)Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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 started this book with a feeling that it might be sad – it is set in WWII times, after all. What I wasn’t prepared for was how it would take my heart, and squeeze it. The tears while I was reading this book, man! Code Name Verity is the story of two young women working for Allied forces in Nazi-occupied France – one is codenamed ‘Verity’ and the other ‘Kittyhawk’; the former being a spy and the latter an airforce pilot (I’ll keep using the codenames so as to not give away the characters). The story begins with Verity caught by Nazis and taken to the local HQ for questioning, where she breaks and gives them information in exchange for being treated with dignity. She writes this account, while also describing life in the Nazi HQ, as a confession of Kittyhawk’s story and when she meets her – it is obvious Verity is hiding her own true identity in the story she is giving to the Nazis. The second half is Kittyhawk assuming her (Verity’s)alias and trying to find and rescue her.

The first half of the story, while being told by Verity is centered on Kittyhawk’s life as a Jewish woman, who wants to become a pilot. She recounts the story of how they met and become fast friends. Kittyhawk and Verity, though in different parts of the Allied forces, have struck a bond, and whenever they meet, just the sight of the other fills them with happiness. Verity goes into how her job as an SOE means she feels quilty and responsible for taking lives, and Kittyhawk feels similary because she ferries people like SOE into warzones. It is a story of war loosening the ties on what is right and what it wrong, but also strengthening bonds in other ways – Verity even mentions that if it wasn’t for the war, she and Kittyhawk would probably never have been best friends.

In the second half of the story, desperation mounts as Verity’s story is left hanging and we don’t know what is become of her. Kittyhawk, meanwhile is writing this account as a report of sorts, and she continues the story from where she separated from Verity, essentially recounting the same timeline from a different perspective. Parts of Verity’s story click into place, and missing pieces align with Kittyhawk’s story, and together they present a story of espionage, wartime danger, best friends and the joy of flying. The story ends on a bittersweet note, and for the last quarter of the book I had a hard time holding back my tears. Sidenote: I love that there is no romantic subplot in this book, even though there was the possibility of one with Jamie and Maddie.

While I had the e-copy of this book, I read almost all of it on audio preferentially. This is because the voice acting (for both) is magnificent – it brings out the personalities of Verity and Kittyhawk in a way that makes the text seem bland. I loved Verity’s Scottish accent and her scoffing at nearly every thing; I loved Kittyhawk’s passionate tones and how the acting reflected her joy and dismay in equally good measure. Even for parts when I went back to the e-copy, I still kept the audio on because it is honestly the best way to enjoy the book. Wein’s realistic writing and the brilliant voice acting are a dynamic duo!

Finally, all I would like to say is – go read this beautiful story of friendship set in a wartime era, and read/listen it in audio if you can!

View all my reviews

2 thoughts on “Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

  1. Pingback: Book Blogger Hop: January 5-11 | YA on my Mind

  2. Pingback: ARC Review: A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II by Elizabeth E. Wein | YA on my Mind

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