Reviews for Code Name Verity
Booklist Reviews 2012 May #1
*Starred Review* If you pick up this book, it will be some time before you put your dog-eared, tear-stained copy back down. Wein succeeds on three fronts: historical verisimilitude, gut-wrenching mystery, and a first-person voice of such confidence and flair that the protagonist might become a classic character--if only we knew what to call her. Alternately dubbed Queenie, Eva, Katharina, Verity, or Julie depending on which double-agent operation she's involved in, she pens her tale as a confession while strapped to a chair and recovering from the latest round of Gestapo torture. The Nazis want the codes that Julie memorized as a wireless operator before crash-landing in France, and she supplies them, but along the way also tells of her fierce friendship with Maddie, a British pilot whose quiet gumption was every bit as impressive as Julie's brash fearlessness. Though delivered at knifepoint, Julie's narrative is peppered with dark humor and minor acts of defiance, and the tension that builds up between both past and present story lines is practically unbearable. A surprise change of perspective hammers home the devastating final third of the book, which reveals that Julie was even more courageous than we believed. Both crushingly sad and hugely inspirational, this plausible, unsentimental novel will thoroughly move even the most cynical of readers. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
BookPage Reviews 2012 May
Friendship on the front lines
Dystopia, fantasy and science fiction crowd the YA shelves these days, but Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein’s astonishing new World War II novel, is a reminder of the power historical fiction can have in the hands of an accomplished author. Set in Great Britain and occupied France both before and during the war, Code Name Verity is a complex story of friendship and courage.
As the novel opens, “Verity” has been captured by the Gestapo behind enemy lines. “I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was,” she begins. We soon learn that she has made a deal with her captor to write down every last detail she knows. As she pens her story, he will return her clothes, piece by piece. In exchange, he will get wireless codes, details about airfields in Great Britain and Verity’s own story.
And what a story it is: Writing on whatever paper is given to her, Verity tells the story of her friendship with Maddie Brodatt, who, as a female pilot in the Air Transport Auxiliary, brought Verity to France. As in the tale of Scheherazade, Verity’s captor appreciates her rich storytelling, but in the end he does not hold the power to determine her fate. In the second part of the book, Maddie takes up the suspenseful tale, while the action builds to an unforgettable encounter between the two friends.
Elizabeth Wein is a pilot herself, and her passion for flying and the details of piloting and caring for a small plane add depth and authenticity to this complex, thoroughly researched novel. She also includes a historical note and a bibliography.
As we have learned with books like The Hunger Games, “YA” and “middle grade” may be convenient labels, but they don’t limit the audience for good books. Yes, we can call Code Name Verity a young adult book. But this sophisticated and compelling novel is likely to find a home on the shelves of teens and adults alike. Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
Wein's exceptional--downright sizzling--abilities as a writer of historical adventure fiction are spectacularly evident in this taut, captivating story of two young women, spy and pilot, during World War II. Wein gives us multiple doubletakes and surprises as she ratchets up the tension in captured spy Queenie's story of her best friend Maddie, the pilot who dropped her over France, then crashed.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #3
Wein's exceptional -- downright sizzling -- abilities as a writer of historical adventure fiction are spectacularly evident in this taut, captivating story of two young women, spy and pilot, during World War II. Wein gives us the story in two consecutive parts -- the first an account by Queenie (a.k.a. Lady Julia Beaufort-Stuart), a spy captured by the SS during a mission in Nazi-occupied France. Queenie has bargained with Hauptsturmführer von Linden to write what she knows about the British war effort in order to postpone her inevitable execution. Sounding like a cross between Swallows and Amazons's Nancy Blackett and Mata Hari, she alternately succumbs to, cheeks, and charms her captors (and readers) as she duly writes her report and, mostly, tells the story of her best friend Maddie, the pilot who dropped her over France, then crashed. Spoiler: unbeknownst to Queenie, Maddie survived the crash; part two is Maddie's "accident report" and account of her efforts to save Queenie. Wein gives us multiple doubletakes and surprises as she ratchets up the tension in Maddie's story, revealing Queenie's joyously clever duplicity and the indefatigable courage of both women. This novel positively soars, in part no doubt because the descriptions of flying derive from Wein's own experience as a pilot. But it's outstanding in all its features -- its warm, ebullient characterization; its engagement with historical facts; its ingenious plot and dramatic suspense; and its intelligent, vivid writing. deirdre f. baker Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 March #1
Breaking away from Arthurian legends (The Winter Prince, 1993, etc.), Wein delivers a heartbreaking tale of friendship during World War II. In a cell in Nazi-occupied France, a young woman writes. Like Scheherezade, to whom she is compared by the SS officer in charge of her case, she dribbles out information--"everything I can remember about the British War Effort"--in exchange for time and a reprieve from torture. But her story is more than a listing of wireless codes or aircraft types. Instead, she describes her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew them to France, as well as the real details of the British War Effort: the breaking down of class barriers, the opportunities, the fears and victories not only of war but of daily life. She also describes, almost casually, her unbearable current situation and the SS officer who holds her life in his hands and his beleaguered female associate, who translates the narrative each day. Through the layers of story, characters (including the Nazis) spring to life. And as the epigraph makes clear, there is more to this tale than is immediately apparent. The twists will lead readers to finish the last page and turn back to the beginning to see how the pieces slot perfectly, unexpectedly into place. A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching. (Historical fiction. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
"I am a coward," begins the confession of a spy taken behind enemy lines in the bitter middle of World War II. English-raised Julie ("Verity") was caught when she looked the wrong way crossing the street in Vichy France and now confides to the reader that she will say anything to end the torture of her interrogation. Her lengthy admission tells the story of two best friends who would never have met under other circumstances--one a spy and the other a pilot, one an aristocrat and the other the granddaughter of a Jewish mechanic--and the events leading up to her capture. Just as Verity's story concludes, a second narrative exposes the truth and the lies contained therein and cements the tragedy of two forever-friends forced by war to make the most difficult of choices. Part narrative double helix, part historical spy novel, and, in the end, a loving tribute to the heroism of young resistance volunteers, this literary high-wire act is impossible to appreciate in one reading. Unforgettable. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2013 January/February
Julie and Maddie are brought together by their desire to serve their country during World War II. One is trained as a spy to work with the French Resistance; the other ferries military planes and special human cargo between British military airfields. The novel opens with Julie already captured and tortured by the Gestapo. She declares herself a coward for agreeing to tell the Nazis the wireless codes in return for her clothes. Julie frames the information she gives her captors within the story of how she and Maddie became friends. Julie's section abruptly ends with a command to send her to a nightmarish death. The next part is the counterpoint to Julie's section. It is in Maddie's slim section that Wein skillfully ratchets up the tension and places Julie's section into its true perspective. This is a tale of friendship and courage. This is historical fiction at its finest, shining a light on a part of World War II rarely addressed in YA literature. Esther Sinofsky, Ph.D., Administra ive Coordinator, Los Angeles (California) Unified School District. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 April #3
Wein (The Empty Kingdom) serves up a riveting and often brutal tale of WWII action and espionage with a powerful friendship at its core. Captured Scottish spy Queenie has agreed to tell her tale--and reveal any confidential information she knows--in exchange for relief from being tortured by Nazis. Her story, which alternates between her early friendship with a pilot named Maddie and her recent sufferings in prison, works both as a story of cross-class friendship (from an upper-crust family, Queenie realizes that she would likely never have met Maddie under other circumstances) and as a harrowing spy story (Queenie's captor, von Loewe, is humanized without losing his menace). Queenie's deliberately rambling and unreliable narration keeps the story engaging, and there are enough action sequences and well-delivered twists (including a gut-wrenching climax and late revelations that will have readers returning to reread the first half of the book) to please readers of all stripes. Wein balances the horrors of war against genuine heroics, delivering a well-researched and expertly crafted adventure. Ages 14-up. Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown. (May) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2012 July
Gr 9 Up--What is truth? The significance of Julia Beaufort-Stuart's alias, "Code Name Verity," takes on double meaning in this taut, riveting, thriller. When the story begins, Julia is an unnamed prisoner, formerly a wireless operator for the British, held captive in France by a seemingly sadistic Nazi interrogator. She has supposedly "sold her soul" in exchange for small bits of freedom, giving pieces of code in exchange for her life. Interspersed with the story of her fierce fight for survival is a different tale: that of how she came to be in France and of her friendship with Maddie Brodatt, a British civilian pilot. Their unlikely friendship-Julia is a noblewoman, Maddie a commoner-forms the backbone of the novel, and Wein seamlessly weaves its threads throughout the book, tying them like the knots of a rope. As Julia tells their story, she also reveals small bits of her attempts at survival and escape. In the second half of the book, Maddie narrates, telling of her desperate attempts to rescue her friend and revealing both the truth of what happened to each of them, and the truth of Julia's bravery. This intricate tale is not for the faint of heart, and readers will be left gasping for the finish, desperate to know how it ends. With a seemingly unreliable narrator, strong friendship, wonderful historical details, and writing that fairly crackles on the page, this is an excellent book for thoughtful readers and book-discussion groups.--Necia Blundy, Marlborough Public Library, MA [Page 90]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
VOYA Reviews 2012 April
Captured by the Gestapo after her plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France, Verity's only chance of survival is collaborating with her Nazi interrogator. Initially told from the perspective of Maddie, Verity's best friend and pilot of the crashed plane, her detailed confession reveals the transformation of two ordinary girls into integral parts of the English war effort and their journey to adulthood in an increasingly volatile world. Maddie and Verity's extraordinary bravery is reflected in frank narrative as they both fight against time and a horrific, powerful enemy Although Verity is portrayed as a character mature beyond her years, her language sometimes seems childish and inconsistent with the individual described in her confession. The reading level could be appropriate for high school students. The graphic torture scenes, adult themes, violence, and some profane language place it firmly in the high school demographic. The themes of hope, friendship, and determination even in the most impossible situations are relevant to all readers. Although the depiction of Nazi practices throughout may be disturbing to some individuals, they are historically accurate and will lead to thoughtful discussion. The conclusion is unexpected and heartbreaking but altogether fitting with the premise and the novel's classification as "a World War II thriller."--Susan Allen, with teen book club and Anya Schulman 4Q 4P S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.