Monday, July 8, 2013

Code Name Verity

As a Nazi prisoner, "Verity" buys herself some time by giving out code and then by writing her story complete with details regarding her assignments working for the Allied forces in England.  At first being a female operative in a man's war is glamourous, not only for Verity, but also for her best friend and fearless pilot, Maddie.  But as both girls become more deeply involved in the espionage and violence, they each start to fear more for the other than for themselves.  Verity continues to fight her captors and continues to write and fear for Maddie's life while knowing all along that she will likely lose her own battle.

I downloaded Code Name Verity almost two years ago from NetGalley and never read it.  It was released to great reviews and fanfare then it starting winning awards and showing up on best books lists.  And I still didn't read it.  I tried picking it up a time or two, but this isn't the type of book that you can pick up and put down at your leisure-at least not for me.  I needed a large chunk of time to devote to becoming immersed in Verity and a four hour train ride to Chicago seemed like the perfect time.

Once I got going, I could tell that this was not a typical WWII story.  The biggest plot point is the relationship between Maddie and Verity and it is the type of friendship that turns into family.  Despite being quite different in terms of education and upbringing, both girls become as close as sisters and it is that love that keeps them going.  The war only intensified those feelings as each needed to lean on the other for support.

While this is a heartfelt story about friendship, it is still a war story.  And a brutal one at that.  Verity knew her fate and it was bleak.  All she was doing was adding one day to her life, but she was bound for death.  Even some of the torture is described in terrifying fashion.  Honestly, the cruelty in The Hunger Games was easier for me to read because that never happened, but this type of abuse did happen.  This is a mature book that will make readers think about the cruelty of war and imprisonment.

The ending was incredible.  That's all I can say.  Not at all forced or predictable (to me at least) or an easy ending.  I personally read this at the ALA conference and was holding back tears.  I don't know why I had to hold them back because I was surrounded by librarians and book lovers that would have understood.

If you are looking for a historical fiction book with heart and depth, then Code Name Verity is the book for you.  And be on the lookout for the next book by Elizabeth Wein, Rose Under Fire.  I have also downloaded that book on my Kindle but let's all hope it doesn't take me two years to read that one too.

Happy Reading!

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