Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The Skinny: Two girls, in the midst of WWII, are involved in secrets and espionage. One has been captured by the Germans, tortured and forced to tell her country’s secrets. The other is a pilot, crash landed in the middle of enemy territory and on a mission to find her missing friend.
BFF?: There were two main characters in Code Name Verity: Maddie and… let’s just call her girl #2. Don’t want to give away any spoilers! First, Maddie. At the beginning we’re introduced to her through Girl #2’s confession she is writing to her German captors. I wasn’t too impressed with Maddie as a person at first; she seemed kind of vanilla and not a lot going on with her. However, I did give her major points because she became a pilot and worked for WAAF (yeah, I don’t know what that is either), which was all sorts of cool. But then we get to the second half of the book and my opinion of Maddie changes drastically. She’s not this innocent young girl Girl #2 kind of presented her as, but instead a young woman with this quiet inner strength that truly shines. After crashing in France, Maddie seems to change, becoming much more stronger of a person, which I completely loved! By the end, I was super rooting for her.
Then there’s Girl #2. I think I loved her from page 1. She was a spitfire, smart and quick. I loved her strength when facing her captors, how she stood up to them even though she knew what the consequences were. Her narrative though is what drew me towards her, how it was cleverly crafted and interjected with hints of her personality here and there. Despite everything she was going through she managed to hold onto who she was, something I truly admired of her.
Readability: This wasn’t a HARD read, per se, but it wasn’t easy to say the least. There were a lot of unfamiliar terms and acronyms, so I was continuously confused about what was what. However, all that aside, I found myself getting lost in both girls’ narratives and loved how very different their voices were.
Crush Level: 4
So there’s really only one boy in the book to have a crush level on, because this isn’t a love book, which is why the level isn’t very high. Jamie, Girl #2’s brother, pops up here and there and he and Maddie have this kind of connection. I really wanted to see more of this, but as I said… this isn’t a love book.
Both girls write their confessions, albeit for very different reasons, to tell their story. I loved reading them, but found it interesting that they both talked about what they wrote with, what they wrote on, and how they wrote. It made it seem much more real than just reading what they wrote because you can imagine the difficulties they both experienced.
Wanna know the most complex thing about this book? All the names you had to know. This person was known as this, that person was known as that, but everyone called him this… phew! It was mind boggling!
While I don’t watch them very often, I LOVVVEEEE spy movies. Especially ones that feature top secret government operatives and you aren’t sure what to believe or who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. There were several characters in this book that I wasn’t sure about, that surprised me and made me scratch my head.
I loved that both characters in this book were girls who had joined in the cause… not just making machines or playing baseball… but REALLY joining the cause. Becoming transport pilots, spies, rescuing hostages. They both knew they were girls and that didn’t freaking matter! They pushed past the red tape. Loved it!
Commencement Speech: While I did have to read this one for book club, I’ve been wanting to read it for a while now, especially after I found out what it was about! I’m always hesitant to read books about WWII because I feel like they all have the same themes: Germans killing Jews, sad times, killing, etc. I don’t like that period in time because of those things – it’s a very sad time. And while some of these themes were in Code Name Verity, it pushed past those themes and brought up ones I hadn’t really focused on. Namely women in the war. I didn’t realize that there was so many opportunities for women during wartime other than working in factories – like Rosie the Riveter – or maybe being nurses. I loved that both girls in this book took on traditionally male roles, were one of just a few women to be in those positions, and really embraced their roles. Code Name Verity was a very investing book; I finished it a couple days ago and am still thinking about it, still imagining the characters and wanting to be with them more. So rarely I find characters that I truly get to know and understand. To find two in one book is astonishing and I want more. While I know they’re just fictional characters, to me they became real, victims in the war who struggled. Very, very glad I bought this book because I know it will be reread again and again.
Superlatives: Best League of Their Own