Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction, Thriller

Goodreads rating: 4.22 out of 5.00 (11, 300+ ratings)
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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-Hauptsturmf├╝hrer 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.

Review by Chantelle

You know those rare books, that are just so completely bookish that they make you excited about the power of words on a page, and how they can blow your mind in a way that a movie never could come close to... well that's Code Name Verity.

If someone were to tell me that this were to be made in a movie, I would probably scoff and say that it wasn't possible. That or have a complete tantrum about how they'd butcher it because the big screen wouldn't be able to capture the complexities or the ingenious that is Verity.

Code Name Verity is about a Scottish (not English) spy that is captured and held as a prisoner of war by the Nazi Germans. Under the intense pain of torture, she agrees to write a full account betraying her knowledge of the British War Effort in which she was a pilot.

Elizabeth Wein completely blew my mind with this novel. The subject matter was controversial, it didn't shy on the violence or horrors of torture, and yet through the meta-fiction of Verity's account, she masterfully creates this world of escape that artfully divulges information of the war from the perspective of Verity's best friend Maddie. SS-Hauptsturmf├╝hrer von Linden, her torturer and supervisor, indulges her literary angle to informing, so this novel details Verity's attempts to wrestle her guilt  with betraying her country against her instinct of self-preservation. At first, I found the novel quite slow. There were long passages on air routes and plane models, it was all very dreary and didn't catch my attention. However, the description was so vivid and rich, you experience the ecstasy of flying with Maddie, and with Verity, experience the wondrous escape of literature. I persisted and persisted and then, the plot exploded and it was suddenly a matter of trying to keep up. Sleep? what sleep.

You won't understand until you read this novel, and anything more would be considered a spoiler. But have I mentioned that this book is absolutely ingenious? Goodness gracious. Go read it. It's sort of like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (or any great thriller really) in that the first half seems quite boring and irrelevant, and you can't see where the author is going with it until it's obvious, and then the novel becomes mind blowing and you need everyone to read it so you can talk about what happened and -
and then praise Elizabeth Wein for her infinite wisdom.

Overall: 9/10
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 5/5


  1. "You know those rare books, that are just so completely bookish that they make you excited about the power of words on a page" Wow! This sounds amazing. I have this up next on my to read list and will be listening to it on audio. The way everyone keeps talking about this, it reminds me of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. It sounds fascinating and emotional and I can't wait to dive into it. Great review!

    1. aw thanks Donna :) I really hope you like it, just beware the the first half is quite slow, but keep going and it will blow you away!

  2. Great review, Chantelle. I was thinking bout reading this book but hesitated because of its historian status but after reading your review, I am more than convinced that I need to read this book :D

    1. Thanks! It's such an engrossing thriller, I hope you like it!!

  3. Hi Chantelle, I just noticed this review and wondered if you would like to link it in to the current monthly collection of books that people loved on Carole's Chatter. This is the link There are already over 25 great books linked in that you might be interested in. It would be super if you came on over. Cheers

    1. thanks for stopping by, Chantelle. I am now following your blog via Bloglovin and GFC. Hope to see you again soon. Cheers

  4. I own this one and CANNOT wait to crack it open - thank you for your review!