Yune's Reviews > Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
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's review
Feb 06, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult, wartime

I'm not sure why I didn't count Wein as one of my favorite authors before, but she's firmly in that category now: her books twist you up inside and linger. I read this last night and woke up this morning still thinking about it, still haunted. (And yet there is always a burnishing of hope in her works. I feel wrenched but not wretched, possibly because her characters are such survivors.)

It begins with the most unreliable of narrators: a British female spy being tortured and interrogated by the Nazi Germans. There are rarely explicitly detailed descriptions, and the character herself is matter-of-fact and sometimes even plucky about it (she likes to defy her captors in little ways), but it's hard not to flinch. In her written confession, she alternates between describing the conditions in which she's imprisoned and how she became involved in World War II. It may be a little slow in terms of pacing at first, but the voice is utterly engaging. When someone later describes the sheer vivacity of the spy, you know exactly what's meant.

Wein's love of flying shines through. The other main character is a civilian pilot, and the two find themselves caught up in a friendship that might never have happened in peacetime. "It's like being in love, discovering your best friend." And it's indeed a beautifully authentic relationship between the two, each of them wonderfully strong women with warm hearts. And such a vivid sense of place and time!

I trusted the author enough to pre-order the UK edition of her book (since its publishing date was sooner than that of the U.S. one), and have no regrets at all. Like for most of Wein's works, I find the YA label deceptive; this is a layered tale that I'd actually recommend to adults more often.
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