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Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein

March 29, 2013

Bibliographic Information (APA): Wein, Elizabeth. (2012). Code Name Verity. Double Day Canada: Canada

Category: Historical Fiction

Subcategories: Award-winning, Realistic Fiction, & Mystery, Thriller, or Suspense

Descriptive Summary: What wouldn’t you be willing to do to try and save your friend from death? That is the dilemma facing two very different young women in Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War. Opening in the style of a confessional, a woman writes out her ‘confession’ of guilt to her Nazi captors, but all is not what it seems. Maddie Brodatt, (a part-time radio operator and civilian pilot) and Julie Beaufort-Stuart (a radio operator and part-time spy/ informant), try do their part for their country England, and a series of events lands them both in hostile territory. Told in the voice of a ‘mystery woman,’ what follows is their struggles of trying to find each other, to survive, and to go home to England once more. Code Name Verity is a truly inspiring, and riveting story about the bonds of friendship and love in a time of great danger and risk.

Book Talking Hooks: Code Name Verity is a sure hit for any reader that enjoys historical fiction surrounding warfare and military themes (particularly the World Wars). The story is fictitious, but made very realistic through multiple references to specific planes, weapons, military tactics, and technology of the era. All the attention to the smaller details does make it seem as though the story could be real (Wein, 2012, p. 25, 153, 172, & 223). In this way, the novel is relatable to real-life experiences through the inclusion of certain props that create a three-dimensional image in the reader’s mind.

There are several passages full of suspense as one of the women is in hiding from the enemy and she comes close to being caught so many times (Wein, 2012, p. 208, 217, 227, & 255). Sometimes she is saved by her wits, but more often it is luck, and you never know when that luck is going to run out.  Espionage, play acting, subterfuge and keeping one’s nerve in the most strained of circumstances is crucial to this story and there are passages surrounding interrogation where you are sure the interrogated has to break, but they do not (Wein, 2012, p. 70, 75, 160, 172, & 294). The suspense just keeps building and building!!

Evaluative Comments: 5/5. The writing is clear and easy to follow. The story kinds of jumps back and forth as the writer relates what happens in the past and also muses on her own thoughts. The plot line is never lost, however, which is a testament to the talent of author Elizabeth Wein.

One of the main reasons why I would include this novel is because it really does bring home the message that there is always a consequence to one’s actions, there is always a price to pay (it is not always you that pays it), and ultimately even heroes are hurt, wounded, and even die one day. Bad things happen to good people in this novel, but you never lose sight of the redeeming courage, love, and strength that sustains the characters and the reader alike. Amidst the so-called glamour, glory and romance of war, there is a cost that must be reckoned and Elizabeth Wein’s masterpiece gracefully and eloquently reminds the reader of that fact.

Readers’ Advisory Notes: Code Name Verity is powerful in its character creation, plot development and intricacy, suspense, action, and great emotional intensity. It is a haunting but deeply moving story that will keep you thinking and remembering long after you have finished the novel.

Reason for Inclusion: Code Name Verity was recommended to me by a number of fans of YA literature and this corresponds to the number of awards this book has won along with  honorable mentions, and booklist inclusions. For example, Code Name Verity received positive received a six-star review from Hornbook, PW, SLJ, Kirkus Review, and Bulletin. Code Name Verity was also awarded the Michael L. Printz Honor Award in 2013, as well as a Best Books 2012 from Amazon.

Suggested Audience: Code Name Verity will appeal to teens of historical fiction, or readers who enjoy dramatic and serious reads. Young adult readers who are fans of spy novels, espionage, and war stories will certainly find this a rewarding pick. Due to the slightly more gruesome scenes involving torture and psychological trauma encountered in the scenes of interrogation, this novel would probably be best for a slightly older audience of 16 years and up.

References

Amazon (2013). “Codename Verity.” Retrieved from

http://www.amazon.com/Code-Name-Verity-Elizabeth-Wein/dp/1423152190

Yalsa. (2013). “Printz Award.” Retrieved from

http://www.ala.org/yalsa/printz-award#current

Youth Services Corner (2013). “Starred YA Book Reviews, 2012.” Retrieved from

http://www.youthservicescorner.com/starred-ya-book-reviews/starred-ya-book-reviews-2012/

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