Saturday, August 3, 2013

Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein

"It's like being in love, discovering your best friend."

At it's heart, that's what Code Name Verity is about: the bonds of friendship and the courage to do anything for your friends. 

The novel is set in England and France during World War II, and the two main characters - Julie and Maddie (who go by various different names, real and code throughout the novel) - are members of the WAAF, or Women's Auxiliary Air Force. They work mainly as wireless operators, until they are shot down over German-occupied France. Maddie is able to get away, but Julie, who goes by Queenie for much of her narrative, is captured and interrogated by the Nazis. 

Julie is told that she can redeem herself and buy time preventing her death by disclosing secrets about the British war effort. That is how much of the novel manifests itself - through her written confession to the SS officers while imprisoned. I found much of this part of the novel confusing, and sometimes had to re-read to get things straight. A little more than half of the way through the novel, though, the narrative switches to Maddie's point of view, and the reader realizes just how tricky Julie really was. 

The ending was a little abrupt and upsetting, but the bond between the two friends is really what compelled me to keep reading this novel. One of my favorite parts of the novel was when Julie and Maddie shared the ten things they're most afraid of in the world. As events unfolded and new things came to light, they both revised their "Top Ten" list, and I found this very interesting. One of my favorite lines in the story is when Maddie is revising her list, while imprisoned, writing her confession. She says:

"9)Not being able to finish my story.
10) Also of finishing it. 
I am no longer afraid of getting old. Indeed I can't believe I ever said anything so stupid. So childish. So offensive and arrogant
But mainly, so very. very stupid. I desperately want to grow old," (114). 

I think that this is the type of expertly crafted, heartbreaking novel that will grab readers until they finish it. 

Also Try: Flygirl, by Sherri L. Smith; Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys; Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein

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