Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Aug 20, 2012

It’s been 24 hours since I’ve finished Code Name Verity, and I am still staring at a wall, recovering.

We first meet our heroine as a prisoner of war in Occupied France, writing down everything she knows about the Allied War Effort to hand over to the Nazis.  She is beaten and starved and in mental anguish over the probable death of her best friend, Maddie, the pilot who crash-landed their plane into France.  But despite the bruises and burns, our narrator is full of spirit and defiance and refuses to let her captors have anything without a struggle—even as she collaborates, she piques and torments those who would pique and torment her.  She never stops fighting, she never stops trying to escape and yet she never stops penning her missive of betrayal for the gentlemanly (and terrifying) Captain Von Linden. 

How she spins her tale of two girls becoming friends in the Blitz-torn airfields of England, of her Scottish home called Craig Castle, Castle Craig, and of the dangerous work both she and Maddie were pulled into by the Bloody Machiavellian Intelligence Officer, is not just a gripping, funny, tragic, and fearless story, but also an example of technical storytelling mastery by debut author Elizabeth Wein.  And by the end, when her and Maddie’s ultimate test of bravery emerges, you’ll be stunned by how adroitly the author laid the trap for you to care about a self-professed coward.

Look for Code Name Verity in the upcoming Printz and Morris buzz, because it will be there.

Reviewed by Library Staff