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Code Name Verity: Elizabeth Wein

Book: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Pages: 352
Age Range: 14 and up

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is a book that I frankly didn't want to read, based on what I'd heard about the premise. The book begins as a confession that a young woman is writing for the Nazis who are holding her as a prisoner. The young woman reveals (though not in intolerable detail) some of the ways in which her captors have tortured her to make her capitulate. See, I would prefer NOT to read about anyone being tortured, especially a teenage girl. But I kept reading simply everywhere how much people whose judgement I trusted loved Code Name Verity. And I finally gave it a look.

As I expected, I didn't enjoy the first part of the book very much. But here's the thing. Elizabeth Wein won me over. But the end of the book, with a tear in my eye, I had to concede that Code Name Verity is brilliant, and moving, and important. It's the kind of book in which you get to the end, and have a hard time believing that the characters aren't real. You want to go look them up in the history books, and find out what happened next. It's difficult to let them go. 

Most any quote that I could give you would be a spoiler. And Code Name Verity is a book that you should read with as open a mind as possible. But here's one to give you a feel for Wein's writing:

"Queenie was devoted to careless name-dropping, scattering the details of her privileged upbringing without the faintest hint of modesty or embarrassment (though, after a while Maddie began to realize she only did it with people she liked or people she detested--those who didn't mind and those she didn't care about--anyone in between, or who might have been offended, she was more cautious with)." (Page 69)

Code Name Verity is meticulously researched, and provides windows into life in both England and France during World War II. Wein's characterization is strong and her prose is distinctive (if sometimes difficult to face). Her plotting is sheer genius. While not for the faint of heart (I am going with 14 and up as an age classification for this one), Code Name Verity is a book with a lot to offer to older teen and adult readers, girls and boys. (Yes, the two primary protagonists are girls. But Code Name Verity is full of action and espionage, flying planes and setting off bombs. It is a book for anyone to enjoy.) Highly recommended, and deserving of every accolade. 

Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children (@DisneyHyperion)
Publication Date: May 15, 2012
Source of Book: Bought it on Kindle

© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).