Friday, November 21, 2014

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1) by Elizabeth Wein

Title: Code Name Verity
Classification: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; Reprint edition

(May 7, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1423152883
ISBN-13: 978-1423152880
Author's Website:
Notes: I borrowed this one from the library.

The year is 1943 and the world is at war. Amidst the chaos, two women are struggling for survival. Their plane loaded with explosives has crash landed in Nazi occupied France. One, the pilot, the other, a spy, sent to extract information, something she excels at. Through a twist of fate, their identities on paper have been switched. Now, one, due to cultural blunder, has landed herself in a Gestapo prison nicknamed Castle of Butchers and is exchanging information with the enemy to prolong her life and curtail her torture. The other is hiding in enemy territory under the Gestapo's nose using the fake identity the other was to use. Two lives forever intermingled, they are best friends and if either doesn't make it, a part of the other will forever be lost.

This is their story.

Throughout the ages people have fought for country, for territory, for survival, for life. It’s a seemingly never ending cycle that seems to repeat itself no matter how many history lessons are taught. Someone always wants more or what the other guy has. But unless you've been in a war you truly cannot know how devastating one can be. You will not be haunted by the nightmares of your colleagues being blown to smithereens right before your eyes or the guilt of watching your best friend die alongside you as you helplessly watch and can do nothing to save them. You will never witness the cruelty one individual can inflict upon another without a second thought. You will never know the full experience, but books like Code Name Verity can give you a small glimpse and it's done in a way that makes you realize you got off lucky because you didn't get the full blown experience. There's a reason they say war is hell, it's because it is.

What's interesting about this book is we're given essentially the same story from two different perspectives. The versions happen simultaneously from the viewpoints of two friends, but their given one at a time. We learn things from one that only someone on the inside of a prison can know. From the other we learn things only someone from outside could. The two stories intermingle and overlap to give us a better overall view of all that is truly going on giving the story a more three dimensional feel, It's an insightful view and, while the story is about the two girl's friendship, the story truly focuses mainly on, as the title suggests, one of the girls, Verity. She's the one to watch. I loved that the second perspective is from Verity's best friend--the person who knows her best.

Julie, aka Verity, and Maddie, aka Kitty Hawk, come from two very different backgrounds. Verity comes from a life of privilege and has met the King. She's from a large family and was born in Scotland. She can speak three languages fluently, was educated in Oxford, is as smart as a whip and gets along easily with everyone. Maddie is from Britain and hasn't had it easy. She knows how to fly and work with engines. She's smart, but doesn't really realize it and, because she's a woman, isn't always given the acknowledgement of it she deserves. She constantly has to prove herself. While Julie is all things feminine, Maddie is more of a Tom boy. Julie admits that it took the war to bring these two together. Had there been no war, it's unlikely that their paths would have ever crossed.

Julie gives us clues all throughout her writings. Not only do we get a look into who she is, but we get an idea of just how brilliant she truly is. She's the type of person who has a trusting face, is easily underestimated (if you don't know her), and makes others feel at ease. She is very good at reading people and knows how to pull information out of them, thereby, revealing their soft spots which she uses to her full advantage. She writes over and over, "I'm a wireless set." and "Careless talk costs lives." They're hints to what is going on, but it isn't until her best friend, Maddie, picks up the story that we get a clear picture of the utter genius of it.

Favorite quotes:

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

- “I am no longer afraid of getting old. Indeed I can't believe I ever said anything so stupid. So childish. So offensive and arrogant.
But mainly, so very, very stupid. I desperately want to grow old.”

- “Hope is the most treacherous thing in the world. It lifts you and lets you plummet. But as long as you're being lifted you don't worry about plummeting.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. The fact the author made me cry and kept my attention throughout the story is what earned it its 5 rose rating. It's an emotional roller coaster of a ride and I recommend having a box of tissues handy when you read it. I was surprised it was labeled young adult, as it didn't truly have that type of a feel to it, and I was never quite certain of what Maddie's or Julie's ages were. The story contains a wonderful mixture of friendship, love, loyalty, survival, loss, and perseverance all wrapped up in the ugliness of war. The phrases "Kiss me, Hardy." and "Fly the plane, Maddie." will forever be emblazoned in my mind. A truly touching story that I highly recommend.

Order of the series:

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