Monday, August 27, 2012

Code Name Verity

by Elizabeth Wein
New York : Hyperion Books, 2012.

A young woman, captured by the Gestapo in Ormaie, writes her confession.

You mean you want to know more than that? I can't tell you. No, really. If the cover and that premise is enough to intrigue you, then do yourself a favor and read the book without reading my thoughts any further. This is a complex narrative that's best if you know very little, though I will try to explain what I think of it.

The non-spoiler review:
There is a lot of historical fiction about World War 2, and every now and then one stands out to me as exceptional. Code Name Verity is one of these. By focusing on women in wartime roles that were historically accurate but not often mentioned, the author truly captured my interest. She doesn't waste time explaining, but throws you right into the historical time period. The captured woman, nicknamed "Queenie" and her friend, Maddie, are truly compelling characters I enjoyed getting to know.

Alright, so you really want my thoughts on this? Be warned that I'm going to assume you've read the book if you're reading this paragraph. OK, here goes...

I loved this book. I loved getting to know Julie ("Queenie") and Maddie. I noticed details while I was reading Julie's story - that she claimed not to know an awful lot of people's real names, that information about the hotel that became a Nazi prison was underlined. The way in which Maddie's narrative completely subverted and explained Julie's was absolutely brilliant. I enjoyed the historical detail about women pilots and special operatives in the war, but Julie and Maddie are characters first, not just the means to provide me, the reader, with information. I was afraid that the story would be heartbreaking, and it was, but not so absolutely depressing that I couldn't read it again. This is one of those books that could go either way as appealing to adults and older teens, and I will be recommending it highly to both.

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