Michelle's Reviews > Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
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May 25, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2012, la-la-loved, historical, ya
Read in May, 2012

Code Name Verity is the book I have been dying to read even before I knew it existed. It's the book I will still be talking about for the rest of the year (and probably much longer). And it's the book with so many complexly interwoven details that I'm sure it will continue to stun me for many rereadings to come.

Verity, the code name of our narrator, is actually an Allied agent who has been captured by the Nazis in occupied France. Opting against torture, Verity (also known as Queenie to her friends) has agreed to divulge codes and other Allied wartime secrets for her captor, SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden. Thus begin the outpouring of secrets. Though even as she is proclaiming herself a coward (and traitor) with her every breath, Queenie is constantly needling her captors and poking fun at her own very dire situation with her endlessly dark and razor sharp humor. What Queenie does write to her captors however is not simply a list of British secrets and codes but the story of herself and her best friend Maddie, an airplane pilot. Woven into their initial introduction and developing friendship are all the details von Linden demanded asked for, but by setting it agonist the backdrop of their relationship, you have an inside view of the life of two strong-willed women during WWII: the secrets they kept and the lies they told.

Almost from word go, you get the immediate sense that Queenie is not all she proclaims to be. In fact, she herself describes herself thus:

I am in the Special Operations Executive because I can speak French and German and am good at making up stories and I am a prisoner in the Ormaie Gestapo HQ because I have no sense of direction whatsoever.

'Making up stories' indeed. With this one sentence very early on we get an immediate sense of the vitality and humor possessed by Queenie and that perhaps our storyteller is not as reliable as she proclaims herself to be. What makes this story so unforgettable (just like one of Queenie's stories) are the details. Hundreds of tiny historical facts about planes, the RAF, the WAAF, literature, and even the history of the ballpoint pen! I simply couldn't wait to pick up Code Name Verity as each time as I knew every page would contain  another adventure, another heartbreak.

Perhaps my favorite line from Cody Name Verity (and you better believe my copy has been bombed with bookmarks) is after Queenie and Maddie have just begun to get to know one another and Queenie writes

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

This line, my friends, utterly encapsulates why I am head over heels for this book. Yes, it is full of surprises and intrigue but at the heart it is a beautiful story of two friends -- who would have never, ever become close had the situation been different -- but who did find each other and had one of those stunning relationships that you always find yourself completely giddy over. I can't say it enough, this book blew me away. I simply cannot get the story out of my head. Verity's voice and Maddie's story are so intricately crafted. It's one of those lovely stories that as soon as you finish, you just want to immediately jump right back into a satisfying reread to rediscover (or maybe even for the first time) all those seemingly innocent details inserted along the way. Just go ahead and read it now, I'll patiently wait for your gushing reply. Grab a box a tissues though, you'll be needing them.
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Wendy This is going on my too read list!


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