Book Review: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity CoverBook: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Published May 2013  by Disney-Hyperion|339 pages

Where I Got It/Format: paperback from Barnes & Noble

Series: Code Name Verity #1

Genre: YA Historical Fiction- World War 2

You can find Code Name Verity on goodreads & Elizabeth Wein on Twitter and her website

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, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy? 

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called “a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel” in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.

What I Thought:

I finally read Code Name Verity!  I’ve been putting it off for ages, because so many people have loved it, and I was scared that it wouldn’t live up to the hype.  I liked Code Name Verity, but for some reason, the story wasn’t what I was expecting.

To be honest, I found Verity’s story to be confusing, and the story didn’t make sense until Maddie took over the narration.  I really felt like I was missing something, and I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a total idiot or if I wasn’t paying attention, or if maybe it takes at least a couple reads for it to make sense.

Multiple narrators are very much hit-or-miss for me, and unfortunately, this was a huge miss for me. I wasn’t expecting the first half to be narrated by one person, and the second half to be narrated by another person. Part of it is that I’m very used to alternating chapters, but I also felt like Code Name Verity had two different stories that didn’t go well together.  By the end of the book, I just didn’t really care about either girl or what happened to them.  I felt disconnected from what was going on, and I didn’t really find either girl’s story to be compelling.

The way the story was told didn’t work for me- Maddie’s story is woven in through Verity’s part of the novel, alongside the information that her German captors want.  I think that is largely why Verity’s narration didn’t work for me, because the different styles didn’t work together.  Maddie’s half of the story was infinitely more interesting but at that point in the book, I was just wanted to be done with it.  I know their stories are connected, but the way the two stories were told made the book seem more confusing and jumbled than it needed to be.

I know the book is about their friendship, and what they’ll do to save each other, but I…their friendship…there’s something about it that felt a little bit forced and fake.  It just didn’t seem that believable to me, and I have no idea why.

Still, I like that the book focuses on two girls doing their part in the war effort, and that one is a spy, while the other is a pilot. I also like that Wein includes a bibliography at the end of the book, which is quite unusual for YA historical fiction (n my experience).

Let’s Rate It:

Maddie’s narration is what made Code Name Verity much more interesting.  Overall, I felt like Maddie and Verity’s stories would have worked better on their own, because their own stories didn’t come together for me.  Part of it is that I went in with too high expectations, and I’m feeling like the odd woman out for not connecting with it the way everyone else has. It’s still an interesting novel with World War 2 as a backdrop, and I like that it focuses on a different element of the War.  Code Name Verity gets 3 stars.

One thought on “Book Review: Code Name Verity

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein | wingedcreature reads

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