By Elizabeth Wroten
Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
On 29, Mar 2013 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten
Oct. 11th, 1943–A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.
When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
I chose this book because it was getting such good press and I will allow that it was a good book. And there is one scene that keeps playing over and over in my mind; a scene that really shook me because I know I have a friend like that. But ultimately, I went against my nature reading this book.
I do not like World War II books. There I said it. I’m sorry, I just don’t. I don’t find it to be an overly interesting time period. The whole war was a fiasco and a tragedy of epic proportions and we have a lot to learn from it, but that doesn’t mean I need to enjoy reading lots of upsetting fiction. It’s not even that I am against fiction that upsets me, it’s just that I’m not into WWII upsetting me.
All that aside, this was a good book. It took me awhile to really like the two narrators, but I did eventually come around. They’re plucky girls with very different personalities, but they are good girls and I liked them in the end. It was also a rather “astonishing” story about friendship (as the cover blurb says). The girls don’t really spend that much time together and at first I found myself questioning, well how good of friends can they really be if they only spent a few months together and then spent a couple years writing to each other? Then I realized that that, in a nutshell, is a description of my best friend and me. (Trish, are you reading this? This is you and me.) And after that little revelation, I had a whole new appreciation for this book. It reached out to me in a way that I wouldn’t exactly expect it to for all readers, but most people have a good friend. Plus there are spies and bombs and planes and women’s rights to recommend the book too. Something for everyone. Even people who don’t like WWII.