Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

A British secret agent, code name: Verity, has been captured by Nazis and is being held for interrogation.  In France on a secret mission,  Verity made a small, but critical mistake: looking right (as they do in Great Britain) when crossing the street, instead of left (as they do in France).  The wreckage of the plane in which Verity flew to France has been recovered.  Photographs from the scene show the charred remains of the pilot (code name: Kittyhawk) and eleven wireless radios, for which Verity is expected to produce codes.  Though distraught at the idea of Kittyhawk's fiery death, Verity is determined to remain in control.  To stay alive by giving the Nazis what they want.   The words of the novel are Verity's confession.  In it, Verity reveals meeting and forming a friendship with Kittyhawk, how the two came to be, respectively, spy and pilot, how they wound up flying this secret mission to France, and how it all fell apart.

How's that for a completely vague, yet detailed, description of a book?  I'd tell you more, but it's just such a good story that I want the specifics of the novel to be revealed to you as you read.  It's a spy thriller, yes, but it's different from your average spy thriller.  Because it is a work of historical fiction, Wein weaves in a variety of details to create an authentic version of wartime Great Britain and Nazi-occupied France.  Because it is a work of suspense and the narrator is a spy under interrogation, the reader is under constant suspicion of everything he or she reads.  Is Verity feeding lies to the Nazis, ensuring a slow and painful death? Or is Verity (as the name implies) giving away British secrets in a desperate act of self-preservation?  As the story twists and turns, readers are drawn deeper into the story.  It is the conclusion, however, that will leave readers with dropped jaws, scrambling to turn back to page one in awe of how the intricate puzzle pieces of the story come together.

Recommended for: teens AND adults who love a well-spun yarn, interest in history and/or historical fiction not a pre-requisite.

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  1. This may be my next post-Variant read!

    1. Yes! And Variant, while completely different from Code Name Verity, is similarly twisty and turny!