Title: Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #1)
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Check this book out on Goodreads.
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. (Source: Goodreads)
Two young women meet during the war, and there lives are forever entangled as they land in France several years later, one captured by the gestapo the other possibly already dead. The book is divided between “Verity” and “Kittyhawk” code names of the women the story is about. This story is about more than war, it’s about friendship, love, and devotion even in the hardest situation.
I enjoyed this book so much. It is so beautifully written, not just in its emotional depth, but also the realism that is written into the story at every moment. I couldn’t put it down. This book was recommended to me by a friend, and while I’ve been trying to read it for a week I haven’t had the time to devote to it. The thing is I needed to devote time to this, it’s a slow read, it’s very dense with content about the war, specifically the planes, so I needed some time to get into the rhythm of the book. It’s definitely worth the time and effort though. This book had me so emotionally raw by the end I was crying so much I had to put it down.
First things first, this is a book about girls and friendship between these girls. I think that without the strong relationship that Wein wrote this book would have crumbled. The strength of the relationship between Maddie and Julie is what keeps the book going. It is the base of this story and it is the strength of the story. The relationship is so real and so emotionally vibrant it’s hard to not love Maddie and Julie, even before you get to the portion of the book from Maddie’s point of view, you know her so well it feels natural to hear her words. This is one of the most beautiful stories about friendship I’ve ever read. The depth of their love for each other is so astonishing and heart wrenching that all that happens in the end leaves you beyond words.
The relationship itself wouldn’t have worked if the character development hadn’t been as strong as it is. The characters in this book feel so real it’s painful how much you begin to love them. Maddie and Julie are of course the strongest points of the book, they’re both so well developed it builds the entire base of the novel. However, the other characters really come to life to. I think Anna Engel and Jamie are great examples of this. Anna is such a unique character, and her development plays out slowly over the course of the book as we learn her true nature. This was so fantastically done. Then Jamie, even from his first introduction, you know him. There’s something so real and familiar about him, you learn to love him right away, and you cherish him as if he was your own favourite brother. Wein did such a good job of writing these characters.
Plotwise this is something of a slow book. There isn’t much action until the very end of the book. But the build up is amazing. The details of the war and the training are amazing and realistic. Then as you learn more about the nature of the content, and the spies especially, everything takes on a whole other nature and really plays well into the actual action (fighting) at the end of the book. The payoff of all the dense content is really amazing. I think the main thing is, this book doesn’t need action. It’s a story about friendship, people, life…not action and singular moments of action, it’s about everything that made Maddie and Julie into these people who accomplished what they did, and loves each other the way they did.
The content, in terms of historical accuracy, isn’t 100%. This is something Wein addresses at the end of the book, in an author’s note, and I really liked her approach. The content doesn’t need to be 100% accurate, this is a fictional work, so while the book is well researched, there’s no way it can be 100% accurate, so she tried to write it as realistic as possible. I really think she accomplished this task well, because the book reads true. I think another lovely thing Wein did was look at both sides of the war, people in this book are never just good or evil, they have layers and are real inasmuch as they can be real.
I really loved this book. I laughed along with the girls, I cried with them, and for them, and I loved them all. This book is well written, highly emotional, beautiful, and definitely worth every moment it took to read. I highly recommend it, and will be going to get the second book myself.