Book Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Published: May 12th 2012 (First published February 6th 2012)
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Length: 339 pages
Source: Hardback copy gifted by the author

Book Blurb (via Goodreads):

Code Name Verity is a compelling, emotionally rich story with universal themes of friendship and loyalty, heroism and bravery.

Two young women from totally different backgrounds are thrown together during World War II: one a working-class girl from Manchester, the other a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a wireless operator. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted friends.

But then a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France. She is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in “Verity’s” own words, as she writes her account for her captors.

My Thoughts

I’ve always been fascinated by World War II stories so I was incredibly pleased when I was gifted a copy of this book by the author herself when I met her at Dundee Literary Festival last year. It was lovely to meet her and I’m glad that I got that chance. It took me a lot longer than I had anticipated getting around to reading this book but it lived up to my hopes and expectations once I did.

Following a pilot who crash landed in Nazi occupied Germany, this hard hitting historical doesn’t shy away from the details – as told by the pilot herself. Using scraps of paper and anything else she can get her hands on, “Verity” details everything that’s happening to her as well as spilling some secrets in order to survive.

I fell into this world hard. I was rooting for Verity to make it through. I was eager to learn about the events that led to her being in the situation she was in. I enjoyed learning about her friends and family that she had left behind.

There’s the whole educational side of it too, actually learning things about WWII fighter planes and the training and things that pilots had to go through. It was super interesting to see what a woman was accomplishing in a very male dominated world, too. As Verity went through literal torture during her captivity, while difficult to read the sheer tenacity of the woman was astounding. I was constantly thinking that I would have broken on the first day if I had been in such a situation. The amount of courage and strength it takes to not only go through something such as that but survive it day after day would be astounding.

It’s a lot different to other war-time novels. It focused a lot more on the people than the war, which was a nice change of pace. I often find that WWII era stories are so focused on Hitler himself and the people closest to him, but this was completely different. We see how the family of a Nazi member lives while sheltering the very people their son is sworn to fight against.

Overall, I found it a very powerful story. There’s an excellent twist that made me gasp aloud. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and am looking forward to picking up its prequel, The Pearl Thief, sometime soon.

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About the Author

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