Code Name Verity Elizabeth Wein Book Review

“People are complicated. There is so much more to everybody than you realize. You see someone in school every day, or at work, in the canteen, and you share a cigarette or a coffee with them, and you talk about the weather or last night’s air raid.”

-Location 601 Code Name Verity eGalley

Sometimes when I read, it feels like a book has reached down into my soul and pulled out something I didn’t even know was there. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is one of those books. I may not have sobbed buckets upon finishing, but I left Code Name Verity changed just a little bit, where it counts.

Code Name Verity Elizabeth Wein Book Cover

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity opens with a written confession to being a coward by an unnamed narrator. It has this simple four word opening to all these threads that when you connect them weave an amazing, multilayered story. You see, Code Name Verity is a story of friendship between two girls: our unnamed narrator whose name is a spoiler and Maddie Brodatt, a female pilot serving in the RAF in Scotland during World War II. The narrator and Maddie were together in a plane that went down over France. Unfortunately the narrator was caught by Nazi officers and is now being interrogated aka tortured, and thus what we, the reader, get is her written confession spread over papers, sheet music, and recipe cards.

‘Maddie dug deep. She came up honestly, hesitating a little at the simplicity and nakedness of the confession, then admitted: “Letting people down.”‘

-location 873

Straight up, I am biased about Code Name Verity. I love it with so much of my being. Friends, Elizabeth Wein’s book really spoke to me. There was something about the narrator’s friendship with Maddie that really got to me. I’m not sure if it’s the confessions of fears, the pretending in order to learn how to navigate, I don’t know — I just found myself wishing and wanting to be a better friend and person after reading.

Plus there is this wonderful Peter Pan motif woven in, which it’s not a super huge part of the book, but I loved it. I loved that a certain character’s family kept the windows of each missing family member open in case they should decide to fly back in. I actually kind of have good chills thinking about how Maddie and the narrator would say “Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning” several different times. We all know Peter Pan goes off to Neverland and he’s the boy who never grows up. Well, these girls in the war, they’ve seen a lot, but some don’t go on to grow up.  And well, Peter Pan means a little bit more to me now than it did before.

“Maddie quickly pulled down the blackout curtains over her bright and vulnerable soul”

-Location 881

What also gets me is the huge payoff. I will admit some parts are slow and may not make much sense. You might even be tempted as a reader to set Code Name Verity down. I’d like to say, keep at it. This is one where every extraneous detail is important. Code Name Verity is a book where you think you know something and then a little over half way through, you find out you were wrong. It’s layered and completely and totally genius. It is worth the effort you have to make in the beginning.

“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.”

-location 1301

Oh, Maddie and ‘Verity’ you hold my heart in your hands and I am so glad I got the opportunity to read your story. I know these are fictional characters, but for a few days they were are part of my life and honestly, I think that I will always carry them with me, as cliche as that sounds. I already find myself hankering for a re-read now that I know the twists.

Disclosure: Received for review via Netgalley

Other Reviews of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein:

Vegan YA Nerds – “Give this book a go, please.

Bunbury In The Stacks – “A magnificently written story that managed to exceed my expectations

Janicu’s Book Blog – “I feel so proud of these characters somehow.

The Book Smugglers – “I haven’t stopped crying since I finished reading this book a few hours ago

About April (Books&Wine)

April is 28 years old and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. In her free time she can be found reading, working out, or eating junk food. She often wears her sunglasses at night.

Comments

  1. I am so so glad you loved this one. It’s one of those books that I’m still thinking about weeks after I read it. I filled the aforementioned buckets with my tears from reading it. Even your review is kind of making me emotional over it, remembering their friendship (which was, like you said, just amazing). And the detail, and… oh gosh just everything. It became a new favorite of mine instantly.

  2. I’ve seen so many rave reviews for this book-I am very intrigued by the mysteries hinted at within and am dying to know what the spoilers are. I should be reading this soon and hope it affects me just as powerfully.

    • I think the reviews have done a great job at keeping the lid on spoilers. I hope this one finds it’s way into your heart, the way it has with so many other readers so far.

  3. “Sometimes when I read, it feels like a book has reached down into my soul and pulled out something I didn’t even know was there”

    Geez. I have to give this one a go! Especially since I’ve heard several people make similar comments about this book!

  4. Definitely not a book I would have picked up on my own, but you make it sound so good! Adding it to the to-read list! Thanks for the review!

  5. Wow great review !I really understand how this book could have a deep effect on someone. Sadly I’,m one of those who had to put it down ut I did get to 70% – I stopped at part 2. The war and piloting details kept me too detached to the story. But I do agree that if you can get into it, the story is wonderful and I definitely liked the narration.

  6. Lovely review. I’m happy you liked it too. And yes to the Peter Pan references! They gave me shivers sometimes.

  7. Wow, what a great review! I’ll definitely check this one out. I know I say that a lot, but when someone–many people, in fact–talk so strongly about a book, I can’t ignore it! Thanks for your post!

    Also at musingsonfantasia.blogspot.com

  8. Rae Carson says:

    I LOVED this book. It was slow to get going for me, but once I realized I was dealing with a cleverly unreliable narrator, I could not read fast enough. I also loved that it was about a deep friendship between two women that was not in any way contingent or centered on a hot boy.

  9. Oh! OH! I hadn’t heard of this book before and now I feel that I MUST OWN IT RIGHT NOW!!$!#%^&$#%$!%^$!!!!!

    *ahem*

    Will certainly put this one on my To Buy Once I Exit The Poorhouse After Having Been in NYC For A Week list.

    I felt this way about The Flight of Gemma Hardy. I wanted to reread it the second I finished. Bliss.

  10. I bet you’re right that a reread would be wholly mindblowing, because you could pick up on all the little things hidden throughout!

    Okay, so I kind of felt like Maddie and ‘Verity’ might be more than friends. Or, like, that they would be someday. I don’t know. I may just be reading into it. I’m not sure if I’m crazy or not. Maybe I just was looking for romance in a book where there wasn’t any.

  11. I just bought this book! I cannot, cannot, CANNOT wait to read it! You’ve GOT to quit writing excellent reviews and messing up my TBR list. 😉 haha

  12. LOVE this book and double love how much we had to dissect it together after reading. SO MUCH TO DISSECT!

  13. I’ve seen mixed reviews on this one. Some say it’s boring and some say it’s brilliant. Hmmmm. lol

    Your review has me thinking I should give it a try though.

    the peter pan reference is neat. I never really liked that movie much. I was scared of captian hook. You’ll be happy to know I have gotten over that fear.

  14. I cannot wait to read this book. It’s definitely just moved up a few spots on my to be read list! It sounds amazing!

  15. Oh, I nnneeeed to read this now. Lovely review.

  16. So, if I see you at BEA and I give you a hug, it’s not because I’m being a creeper, it’s because of this review and your reaction to this book. I feel like this mirrored how I felt so well, I adored it. I loved the Peter Pan references so much, and I know that I will think of that in particular in years to come, particularly if I at some point become a mother and have to deal with my kids leaving home.

  17. THIS BOOK. I cannot wait to read it. I hadn’t even heard of it until like 2 weeks ago and now I desperate to get my hands on it! It sounds AMAZING.

  18. So I guess what you’re telling me is that I should read this? Hehe.

  19. April, so glad you loved this! It’s one of my favorite reads this year and I love that it’s getting the attention that it deserves. Loved the beautiful friendship in this and yes, the Peter Pan references as well. EWein is an incredible writer and I’ve been pushing her books on anyone who will listen for years. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that CNV will encourage readers to pick up her other titles.

  20. I sooooo need to read this!! Awesome review.

  21. I got this book too, but I don’t know if I’ll read it yet, though I keep getting tempted with all the good reviews.

    I did love all the quotes you put. 😀

  22. Thanks so much for linking to my review, April! I absolutely enjoyed yours and I am so glad to read that someone else loved this as much as I did. I totally understand your feelings about wanting to be a better friend, I feel like no friendship could ever live up to Verity and Maddie’s and I so want to have one just like theirs!

  23. I’ve heard SO many people talking about this book, and I’ve honestly been wondering what all the fuss is about. Um, I think I get it a little bit better now. Dang girl. I need to read this right this second! If it qualifies as a book that reached inside you AND changed you, than that is a book that I want to read. One of my favorite things about blogging about books (and reading other blogs) is moments like this – when one review absolutely convinces me that I need to read a book as soon as I can get my grubby hands on it. Also, I’m all about anything set in WWII, so that’s a plus for me!

  24. After reading what you and a few other bloggers had to say about this book, I’m thoroughly convinced it is something I must read. It sounds absolutely lovely and poignant in a way, so I can’t wait!

  25. My library just ordered this book, so it’s making its way high up on my tbr list!

Trackbacks

  1. […] April’s Review: “Oh, Maddie and ‘Verity’ you hold my heart in your hands and I am so glad I got the opportunit… […]

  2. […] Code Name Verity by Elizabeth […]

  3. […] as some big reveals. I did find that Black Dove, White Raven was not nearly as heartbreaking as Code Name Verity. I liked that I came away with my heart intact and a hopeful […]

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