Regina's Reviews > Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
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's review
May 10, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: arc-publisher-netgalley-edelweiss, historical-fiction, ya
Read from May 10 to 13, 2012

I really enjoyed this book. There were parts I skimmed and parts I did not enjoy as much, but the overall effect of this book and the entire story affected me powerfully. The story is told in two parts and points of view, each from two best friends. One young woman is a pilot and the other's role is much more difficult to determine at first. The setting is the early part of World War II in England.

The story had me from the beginning, I think because the experience detailed is so different than WWII stories told from the point of view of US citizens. WWII stories are not unique in US culture, I think the theme of WWII is likely one of the most favorite themes for fiction, non-fiction, memoirs and movies in the US. We Americans love this time period and love to be entertained by the memory of this war. But our experience was so different than that of the Europeans who lived with the constant bombing and threat day in and day out -- so I found that aspect of it fascinating.

They came to a crossroad. There were no road signs, not one; they'd all been taken down or blacked over to confuse the enemy in the event Operation Sea Lion was successful and the German army came swarming inland.

I cannot even imagine that level of my life being effected on a daily basis because of a war. It seems minor, but this detail showed me how every aspect of their lives was effected.

The piloting details were boring for me and I admit to skimming those parts. I also much preferred the first half of the book being told by Queenie. Her character is incredibly interesting and I was pulled into her story. The perspective of the story was both sad, horrific and very interesting -- being told from inside a Nazi political interrogation center. The horrors of the war were not missed in this novel, but included were the beauties of heroism and friendship.

The main characters are involved with the war effort, but the morality of killing the "enemy" is discussed. This aspect is really interesting, it is a WWII historical genre, don't we love to think about killing the enemy? I think the humanity of the enemy is often lossed in the category of Nazi. What is more monstruous than a Nazi? It is hard to fathom anything more monstruous than a Nazi, but here is an excerpt discussing this idea -- the set-up is that a German pilot has just been shot out of the sky,

But there had also been a pilot in that ball of flame, a living young man with not much more training than Maddie herself.

I loved this underlying tension throughout the novel. Yes the Allies were fighting a hateful invader and conquerer, but the individual soldiers and pilots were just human beings. Along this line, the interrogators and prison guards are humanized in the story. But the reality of the horrors of the Nazi war machine are not ignore nor lost on the reader. The details of the interrogation methods and the discussions of the concentrations camps are horrific. There are subtle reminders of the numerous victims of the Nazi invaders -- a doctor's prescription pad which a prisoner is allowed to use to write on, but the title at the top of the prescription pad makes clear that it is written by a Jewish doctor and can only be used for Jewish patients. Or the sheet music that a prisoner is allowed to write over -- a music piece written by a Jewish composer and has now been deemed trash or scrap paper.

I understand from the closing notes by the author that the historical accuracy may not be 100% and I am fine with that. The story is beautifully told, extremely detailed and enjoyable.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Pragya (new) - added it

Pragya Yay! I will be reading this one soon.

Regina I am excited, i have only heard wonderful things.

message 3: by Pragya (new) - added it

Pragya Me too. :)

message 4: by AH (new) - rated it 5 stars

AH Yeah!

Regina I have had such a run of great books lately I cannot wait to start this book at lunch. :)

Laura It's so interesting that you liked the first half better, whereas for me the second part is where it really picked up. But we both really enjoyed the book as a whole! :)

Regina That is interesting! I really liked Queenie's story and her "voice".

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