Second Look: Code Name Verity by Elizbeth Wein

Voted as one of Amazon’s Best Books of May for Teens.  I was excited for something other than para-rom.  I like historical fiction, so I waited with bated breath for this to arrive at my doorstep.  Needless to say, I didn’t realize how epic this novel was going to be.

Title: Code Name Verity
Author:  Elizabeth Wein
Age: Young Adult, 15+
Genre: Historical Fiction
Keywords: Best friends, World War II

The first part, Verity, is told from Julie’s POV.  However, she never gives her name until the end of her section.  She tells the story of her best friend, Maddie – a pilot – and how she came to be in German Occupied France.  Julie, at the opening of the story, is a Prisoner of War.  She has made a deal with the captain of Ormaie’s Gestapo that she will tell secrets of the Allies in order to avoid further interrogation (read: torture).    The narrative is in the form of a written confession.  At times she’s talking to her friend Maddie, at others she’s talking to the Captain, von Linden.

The second part of the story, Kittyhawk, is Maddie’s story.  She was Julie’s pilot into France.  After their plane was hit by gunfire, she crash-landed.  She was lucky enough to find a family who would hide her from the Germans until she had proper ID and could get back to England.  Her story is shorter than Julie’s but ends the novel nicely, and with a major twist I did not see coming.  (Don’t worry, I won’t spoil you!)

To be honest, when I was about 60 pages in, I didn’t understand why this was considered one of the Great Books of May.  I knew there was some buzz about it.  It was a new take on WWII – focusing not on the Holocaust or Jewish characters.  That did set it apart, but I still didn’t see the BIG DEAL.

And then the story started to get interesting.  Julie’s tale became more rounded.  Her story had more depth and emotion.  I could understand why it was SO GOOD.  It wasn’t about a Jewish girl (or boy) in a concentration camp.  It was about a Scottish girl (she was a girl really) who was working as a spy – for all intents and purposes – and was captured by the Germans.  She was giving them information that They Should Not Have.

More than that, the stories she tells about Maddie start making more sense.  She brings herself into these tales and explains how she got to where she was in France.  I guess it started making sense, really.

But really, it was Maddie’s story that drew me in.  I’m afraid to tell too much, because there’s a major plot twist that I did NOT SEE COMING AT ALL near the end of the book.  And it really broke my heart – I’ll tell you that much.

In the end, the novel was beautiful and heartwrenching and pretty epic.  I’d have to vote this as one of the Best Books I’ve Ever Read.  Right up there with The Fault In Our Stars in the subject matter and characters.

Be warned: The content may make you cry like a baby at naptime.  It’s really sad.  But worth it.

Rating… 10/10 stars.  (Can I give it more?)



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