Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Summary from Goodreads:

I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two. We are a sensational team.

It's been awhile since I've had a historical read. And it's been years since my reading of The Book Thief, my first and only WWII themed book. Not counting an excerpt from The Diary of Anne Frank that a teacher had us perform as a play, back in high school. (We were absolutely horrible.). So I thought I was ready for all the gut wrenching, and tear jerking scenes that might just ensue as I read this story. But no. It turns out, I was never ready for Code Name: Verity. I was never ready for how much it blew me away. And most definitely not ready at how much I loved it.

I have to make this review as spoiler free as I can because it's crucial, I think, in achieving the highest enjoyment level of the book.

I have to say that the way this book is written is just phenomenal because:

1. There were quite a few pages that goes on and on about these planes and technical terms about flying and landing and a whole lot of war jargon. All of these things, I most definitely have a short attention span for. But it wasn't as unbearable and yawn inducing as it would normally have been. Sure, I did not have the slightest clue nor interest in aeroplanes but I think I stuck with the book because I felt Maddie's (the pilot) passion, in some way, and I reveled in that. You know how there are people who talk about their life's passions and you just get sucked in, despite not sharing said passions? Well, it was like that.

2. I love the wit and the humor found in the story. It may seem unlikely in a story involving spies and war and torture but it works. It think it takes the intensity out of this serious theme without making it seem disrespectful. It was still heart breaking and gut wrenching, reading of the days inside the "Castle of Butchers" believe me. But Verity's (the intelligence officer and Maddie's best friend) wit and humor makes it not traumatic and distressing. It will still make you cry though so have a box of tissues ready.

3. Emphathetic charactes all aound. Almost all of the minor characters seem to have a made mark on me. Jamie, The Thibauts, Engel, Paul, Penn, and even the Nazi Col. Hamspterfuher. He is the villain that has another side to him. He is portrayed not just the usual one dimensional torturer and interrogator. There is something more that is revealed about him that adds much frustration to Verity and gives him an air of mystery.

4. I became wholly invested in the two main characters, Maddie and Verity. The former is a pilot while the latter is an intelligence officer during the WWII. While these seem like highly unbelievable jobs for these two gals, I believed it. They seem like real girls too and real best friends. They share fears, they gossip, they laugh and cry. And theirs is one of the most solid friendships I have come to know of in literature. They give a whole new meaning to the word "best friends". As the blurb says, they are a sensational team. I love Verity's poise, elegance, intelligence and confidence; and yet she's actually a bit nuts and really hilarious. As for Maddie, I love the passion that she has for flying, for aeroplanes, motorbikes, and tinkering with machineries. I love how smart and quick and tough she turned out to be, when faced with all the running and ducking and hiding and rescuing. Together, they make you feel like they can take over the world.

5. This is actually insignificant with respect to the whole plot but I have to say that I loved the Peter Pan reference that E.Wein inserted into the story. Wendy, Peter, Mrs. Darling, The Lost Boys, The leaving of windows'll know once you've read the book. :)

6. The vivid and detailed world was such a treat to read. Nothing seemed to have escaped E. Wein in creating the era of WWII. From the Women's Auxiliary Air Force Camps, The Royal Air Force, the landscape of England, France, and Scotland. The Castle of Butchers. It was just so unbelievably real. As if it was all a recounting of real events from a real spy and a real Allied pilot during WWII.   

This is one of those stories that lingered in my mind days after having finished it. It's more than just espionage. It's about love, loyalty, bravery, and friendships. This is a title that I will definitely be book pushing to anyone who reads. (Yes, I mean YOU. :D)

Awards received: School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2012),  Printz Honor (2013),

Boston Globe/Horn Book Award Honor Book for Fiction (2012), Publisher's Weekly Best Books for Children's Fiction (2012), Amazon Best Books of the Year for Teen Fiction (2012), Amelia Bloomer Book List for Young Adult Fiction (2013).

AWRB Challenge Entry No. 5


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