Monday, August 6, 2012

Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity
Elizabeth Wein
May 15th, 2012
343 pages (hardcover)
Hyperion Books for Children
Source - Netgalley
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 can count the number of books that have left me in tears1 using only one hand, and I can now count Code Name Verity among those select few stories. Admittedly, my first attempt at reading it ended after only 34 pages. But, then the glowing reviews kept coming and I was determined to finish and see what I was missing out on. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. Code Name Verity is a unique and skillfully woven tale of friendship in a time of war that will undoubtedly become a favorite story for many readers.

Part One is narrated by a girl with the code name Verity, while Part Two is narrated by a girl with the code name Kittyhawk2. Verity carefully bares her soul and secrets onto scraps of paper in exchange for more time to live, and gives out code in exchange for her clothes back. As she writes about the past and present, it's at first difficult to see how her stories about Maddie (a pilot and a friend of Verity's) will prove to be useful information to her cruel interrogators. Yet, with every new detail Verity reveals on each page, the story becomes more engaging and surprising. Kittyhawk's continuation of the story even strengthens the compelling aspect to the writing. In the end, Code Name Verity is a story you shouldn't miss out on. 

Highlights: Brilliantly written. When I reached Part Two, I realized how smart Verity's narration was as everything fell into place. Emotional and compelling, this is the kind of story that will linger in your thoughts. I love how developed the characters are, especially Verity and her firecracker personality. Setting, plot – everything was extraordinary. And, despite the amount of somber moments, there are many delightful ones too. 

Lowlights: A bit disorientating in the beginning, and very slow moving. 

1 The last "KISS ME, HARDY!" scene got me good (quote doesn't mean what you may think). So heartbreaking. *looks for tissues*
2 You learn both of their actual names with time.



  1. The sentence: KISS ME, HARDY, was indeed heartbreaking. I cried too when I read it! It's such an great book & I can't wait to read more from this author. Great review!!!

  2. This book is nothing like I thought! I'm not sure what I was thinking the plot was, but I was not expecting it to be about WWII and spies and... well, I really must read it now! Great review!

  3. I love this book too! The tears came hard on the first reading and even though it's now been two months since I read it I still get teary-eyed thinking about this book. I love it, I love it, I love it!

  4. The cover is somewhat misleading--it's nothing like what I thought. But what's inside sounds amazing and definitely something I need to share with my social studies friends!

  5. This one sounds amazing, especially since I'm in the mood for a good historical. I'm definitely going to be looking this one up. And I'll have the tissues handy. :)

  6. Sounds good...I'll have to check this one out.

    New follower...

  7. I definitely have to read this because of all the wonderful reviews I've read. I'm a bit reticent of the sadness that it'll bring me, but I'm looking forward to the writing and characterization that you mention too!

  8. This sounds really powerful with two good narrators.
    I will have to give it a try and stick with it for more than 30 pages.
    Thanks for review,
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  9. I started this one not too long ago and gave up after the first few sections. However, you've given me the push to try it again. It sounds like such an amazing book, and I just love the sound of the main characters. Great review!

  10. ! have this book and so need to get to it thanks for your review! Thanks so much for sharing.

  11. Oh my gosh. Kiss Me Hardy makes me teary just re-reading it. What a powerful heartbreaking book. It was a little slow to start but sure made up for it.

  12. You know, I was really surprised at myself that I didn't shed a single tear while reading this. I was kind of in a weird reading mood at the moment. Still, I agree, it was a great book! Slow-paced but well worth the read! :)

  13. I haven't read this yet but I will keep tissues on hand when I do! After reading your review I am even more curious to find out what happens to Verity and Maddie.

  14. I really liked this one, too. You're right -- it's very clever. Also, unique, compelling, funny and heartbreaking. It is a little slow and confusing at first, but totally worth the read!