- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Electric Monkey; UK ed. edition (26 Feb. 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1405278420
- ISBN-13: 978-1405278423
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.7 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 183 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Code Name Verity Paperback – 26 Feb 2015
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`It's a compelling, uncompromising read which makes few concessions to the age group it's written for - either in subject matter or narrative technique. The bits about flight and women in the war are well researched and the terrifying, but exciting, atmosphere is good.' * The Independant * `This is a remarkable book, which had me horrified and totally gripped at the same time, and although it is billed as a Young Adult title, don't be put off - it is a very grown-up story.' * The Daily Mail * `. . . a rare young adult novel entirely about female power and female friendship. . .' * New York Times * `[It] does more than stick with me. It haunts me. I just can't recommend it enough.' -- Maggie Stiefvater, bestselling author of Shiver `This is a rich and rewarding adventure story with multi-layered heroines and complicated emotions. All 450 pages really do fly by. Expect to see Wein's name in the running for the Older Readers Category of the Scottish Children's Book Awards next year.' * The Scotsman * `If you want an original read that will challenge your perceptions about truth, lies, bravery and deception, this is one for you.' * Sugarscape * `. . . passionate writing with an utterly compelling story.' -- Manda Scot, Chair of the Historical Writers' Association `. . . full of convincing detail, heart-stopping emotion and tension.' * The Bookseller * `It has been a while since I was so captivated by a character . . . Code Name Verity is one of those rare things: an exciting - and affecting - female adventure story.' * The Guardian * `[a] tale of espionage, torture and female derring-do.' * The Times *
About the Author
Elizabeth Wein was born in New York, and grew up in England, Jamaica and Pennsylvania. She is married with two children and now lives in Perth, Scotland. Elizabeth is a member of the Ninety-Nines, the International Organization of Women Pilots. She was awarded the Scottish Aero Club's Watson Cup for best student pilot in 2003 and it was her love of flying that partly inspired the idea for Code Name Verity. Code Name Verity was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and is now available as an enhanced ebook with author interview. Elizabeth’s latest novel is Rose Under Fire.
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The book is set during the Second World War and begins in diary form. Our narrator is the Verity of the title who has been dropped into occupied France and captured by the Germans because of a simple mistake. She has been tortured and threatened and is now writing out her story for her captor including names and locations because she is, as she admits, a coward. The story mainly concentrates on "Verity's" experiences in the war and her friendship with her friend Maddie and explains how she came to be transported to France by her friend who is a pilot. There is lots of good detail here about women's roles in the war and especially their restrictions and if the fact that they both ended up in France pushes credibility a bit far it makes for a great story. I enjoy books written in diary format and I soon found myself engaging with "Verity" who despite her protestations of cowardice is actually a brave woman - I'm not sure how I would have held up in a similar situation but I I suspect I would have done very badly indeed.
About half way through the book we switch point of view to Maddie who has been shot down in occupied France and has her own problems. The switch works well and the author uses the opportunity to fill the reader in about the experience of French people and their lives at the time.
This book works well on lots of levels. It is a really good read and I found myself totally engaged with the two women. The historical detail seems accurate to me, if you excuse the rather unusual circumstances of the flight. For a Young Adult reader there is enough detail about what "Verity" is undergoing and what might happen to her but for the adult reader with a wider knowledge of the Second World War and the iniquities of the German authorities their imagination will fill in gaps intentionally left by the author and make the descriptions more gruelling.
This is a Young Adult book so the plot is not as realistic as it may have been in an adult novel. A few things are skated over and there are too many coincidences but the author still makes it believable and engaging and she doesn't shy away from portraying some very harsh realities of the time.
One of the points of contention about this novel is how credible is it that a prisoner of the Nazis would be permitted to write such a confession over such a long period of time. Part of me agrees with the reviewers who find this unrealistic and part of me thinks that they would potentially gain a lot of useful background knowledge from the writings of a self-confessed coward who has already provided them with eleven pieces of wireless code and was not, perhaps, very discerning as to what to reveal and what to withhold. In the end, I am not sure it actually matters, since as a literary device it is successful and makes the reader want to know more.
What else can I tell you about this well-researched novel without giving the game away? Firstly, Elizabeth Wien creates some very memorable characters and you cannot help but become fond of the protagonists as you discover how their friendship develops. Next, the book comsists of two parts, the second of which casts a lot of light on the first. Thirdly, EW's research gives an insight into the roles which women could and could not play for the British in WWII. If you want to know more, you will just have to read it!
I didn't like the dual first-person narrators. The voices weren't sufficiently different for me to feel as though I was reading the words of two separate people. I was particularly put off by Maddie's comment that she 'wished she could write' and she then goes on and uses unusual similes in the same way that Julie did.
The story itself is intriguing, especially the more active story of the resistance, as told by Maddie. I'll confess that the resolution had me in tears - be warned! - and the story is still haunting me. I'm just not convinced by the format in which it's told.
It is very cleverly written so that you are not sure whether the first girl is cooperating or leading the Gestapo down the garden path and then the second girl's story involves her friend who is telling her version of events with characters with whom she is hiding out and who are related to people involved in Verity's story. This story remains in the mind long afterwards and makes you aware of how much is owed to some people we will never have heard anything about, who did similar things in reality.
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