Code Name Verity

August 20, 2016

Code Name Verity #1. Author: Elizabeth Wein.

Summary:

I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine – and I will do anything, anything to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France – an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.                          (Published summary.)

My Thoughts:

Two best friends, separated in war, each tell their halves of the story in journal-style. One, a female pilot; the other, a female spy. Neither of them know if they’ll ever see the other alive again.

I wasn’t impressed when I started reading Code Name Verity. The main problem with the book – I can almost say, the only problem with this book – is the failed suspension of disbelief in the writing style. The writer is supposed to be a prisoner, having suffered torture and interrogation, who has given in and is writing out her information to prolong her life. And in this case, it makes no sense that she writes (often) in a cheerful, divulgent tone, cracking jokes and going on side tangents. What starving prisoner takes time to describe the weather?

I wasn’t expecting, then, to finish the book so close to tears. The conflict between writing style and situation jolted me out of the story a few times, but it was engaging enough to keep me reading, and before I understood what was happening I was hooked. And it helped that this conflict was much reduced in the second half. It’s hard to talk about the content, because the story hinges on some -amazing- plot points that are very spoiler-y. But even if the beginning is off-putting, you have to keep reading, because the last third is where the story becomes powerful. (Well, that was my personal experience. Disclaimer-y stuff here.)

Code Name Verity is a story about world war II, and the role of women in the war. But far more than that, it’s about friendship, bravery, heroism and fear, and what these become in extremis

Content Review:

Sexual content: Two cases of mild innuendo. One man repeatedly tries to grope a girl, to the point that she threatens him with pistol in anger.

Language: 22 d***, 14 derogatory terms, 12 hell, 11 bloody, 4 scatological terms, 2 f-words

Violence: Two men killed by airplane strafing. A captured spy is guillotined. Two men are shot in both elbows and low in the groin, left alive, as examples. Torture is mentioned – narrator speaks of hearing the screaming, and also of the torture in her past – but no details on what is actually happening. In a different context, one mention of using pins as torture-instruments. Character notes various burns and bruises, signs of torture, on another character.

 

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