2012-06-04

Review: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Release Date ~ May 15, 2012
Doubleday Canada ~ Random House Canada (Canadian edition)
ISBN13: 9780385676540
E-galley/ARC received from publisher
Goodreads Synopsis:
Code Name Verity is a compelling, emotionally rich story with universal themes of friendship and loyalty, heroism and bravery.

Two young women from totally different backgrounds are thrown together during World War II: one a working-class girl from Manchester, the other a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a wireless operator. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted friends.

But then a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France. She is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in “Verity’s” own words, as she writes her account for her captors.

I have to admit that I struggled with Code Name Verity at first; it was a slow read for me, one that I found difficult to get into but one that with an ending so powerful and unforgettable that it redeemed itself and made my experience completely turnaround!
Although this story is set in World War II, it's really a story about two girls who become best friends and what was most likely the period in their life that had the great impact on them. It's also written in journal format, which is something I've mentioned before that I never seem to take to well as a reader. But the story itself is a beautiful tale that leaves a mark on your heart.
  1. Lively, endearing characters:
    Maddie and Queenie are two of the most incredible characters I have ever read about; their personalities literally jump off the pages, and they're just fantastic young women to read about. They're so realistic and familiar, that it's hard to believe that they're no more than fiction. Queenie, especially, was one character that I found totally endearing and striking. The choices she makes, the stories she tells... she's one character you WON'T forget soon. And Maddie is equally brave, in her own unique-Maddie way. Gah, I love these two so much!
  2. An ending that'll make you go "WHAT?!":
    Yeah, it' sone of THOSE endings. I mean, you kind of figure that you know what to expect... but it's still so heartbreaking and momentous and just THERE, and you really don't want it to happen. Yet, it's shocking all on its own. It's a good thing though, I mean, I loved it even though it made me tear up a bit too. It's a good book with feeling is what I'm trying to say, I suppose.
  3. An interesing perspective of WW2:
    And that ending? I won't spoil anything, but I think it does a noteworthy job (as does the book) of offering us readers a very interesting perspective of World War II, one that we wouldn't often get to see. I mean, I don't think I've ever seen a movie or read a book that deals with female pilots or wireless operatives. But on top of that, Queenie and Maddie aren't overly concerned with the war. They're concerned with doing their jobs properly and of meeting their expectations, but we also get to see all the little ways in which a war like this tears peoples' lives apart. Beautiful and tragic, all at the same time.
But I have to warn you that I struggled with the first half of the book. Queenie was easily my favourite character and I loved what she had to say, but I found the way it was written to be difficult to stick with. As I already mentioned, I'm not one to enjoy reading journal entries - I always find it lacking as a method of narration, because we only get to read what that person is writing down on paper. And it almost feels anti-climatic since everything said is being described after the fact and upon further reflection by an individual. Plus, I found Code Name Verity even more difficult to read as a journal because while Queenie's writing it, she's writing it from the perspective of her friend Maddie. Or, what she thinks Maddie's perspective/story would be and how to best tell it.

People told me to stick with it and keep reading and HOW GLAD AM I THAT I DID JUST THAT. I honestly would have felt like I missed out on one of the books of the year had I not finished this one. But I really enjoy historical fiction and this one is great- right down to the writing style and character voices/slang used. Another fair warning though: there's a lot of talk of airplanes and flying that went way over my head. A lot of it. I think it's more so to set an atmosphere and get into the character's heads but it can drag on to read about.

And I should add that by the time I finishd the book I realized that the journal style was necessary for the set up of the story; I can't fathom any other way that it would've worked as well as it did.
This books is one of the few that gets better after you read it. The way it sinks in, and you can't get it out of your head. It isn't a book that you finish and forget about immediately afterwards.




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11 comments:

Kandee said...

Hmmm, I've been hearing a lot about this book and I really want to read this book because I haven't read a good historical fiction novel in a while. I never knew that it was during WW2 times.

kimba88 said...

Ok..i need to pick this back up. I read about 90 pages and set it down. I really struggled to get into it...but from your review it looks like I need to revisit it!

Shannon Dittemore said...

I just heard about this book over the weekend. Can't wait to pick it up!

Brenna said...

Kandee, if you like historical fiction than I think you will love this one! <3 It's the perfect setting for this story, just perfect.

Kimba, I honestly struggled for about...150 pages. I nearly DNF this one (and that's SO rare for me). It took me a while to read it, but it was well worth it. Honestly, I thought it would be a 2 star book and then I finished it and thought it over... it's totally grown on me.

Shannon, I think you'll love this one :) It's a harder read than most YA, but so refreshing.

Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

I felt exactly the same way as you Brenna, I have so many issues with journal books and especially how Queenie's perspective was written. But this was one book I was glad to stick with, and you are so right about that ending, I was like WHAT?! Great review :)

Ann @ Tea And Text said...

Great review! I've been flip-flopping on wether I wanted to read this one or not but I love epic endings so I'll definitely have to give this one a shot!

Chapter by Chapter said...

I totally agree with you! The story wouldn't have worked if it were written in any other style. The characters totally jumped out at you. Their personalities were so wonderfully brought out that it made me feel closer to them. Wonderful review!

Lexie said...

Wonderful review! I've heard so many fantastic things about this one that I had to buy it last time I went to B&N. It's never fun having to slog through a beginning, but this sounds like such a beautiful book that I think it'll be worth it. :D

Christina said...

Yes, that! I almost gave up on the book. I was about to and then I found a super positive review that convinced me to keep going. I was really bored at the beginning, despite the fact that Queenie's funny.

It was worth sticking it out, but the book was definitely a slow read. So intense, though. The ending? WHOA.

Christa @ Hooked on Books said...

Just finished reading this week so I waited to comment until now. I was acutally ok with the journal format but I tend to like books in that style.
And ahhhh that ending! I was on the subway when I finished and I really wish I had been around one of us bloggers so I couldn't vented all my feelings!

Ceska said...

I love to be pleasantly surprised by a book! I must admit, I did not have very high expectations for Code Name Verity. It's published by Disney Hyperion Books, an imprint I (incorrectly) thought had more to do with movie adaptations, teen star books, or some crummy little books in a series. I also knew that the primary audience to whom they're marketing the book was teen girls, which I am decidedly not. But Elizabeth Wein does such a wonderful job telling this story, with heroic female characters, historical authenticity, and a plot that takes you in, breaks your heart, and inspires, that I have to give Code Name Verity a big thumbs up.

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