Code Name Verity, written by Elizabeth Wein, isn’t a new novel; it was published in May 2012 and received a Printz Award Honour in 2013. The companion novel, Rose Under Fire, was published much more recently, coming out this past September. I read it well over a year ago, and since then, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. It’s a touching, smart, gripping novel, and it’s the kind of book that you just have to share with as many people as possible!
The first time I read it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d heard a little bit of positive buzz, but I hadn’t read much about the story. With the tagline “I have told the truth”, and a spine-tingling epigraph that reads “Passive resisters must understand that they are as important as saboteurs”, I was ready for anything. But the novel started off differently than I had imagined. The first line of the book is, “I am a coward”, and the narrator proceeds to tell the story of her capture by the SS while in France and of her eventual decision to become a turncoat. The pages we are reading are her confession and her betrayal, as she is sharing British war secrets. These secrets are delivered as she recounts the tale of Maddie Brodatt, a civilian pilot helping the British war effort. It was an interesting and unexpected way to start a book, and it took a while to find my footing. But once I did, it was an unforgettable read.
This is going to be a slightly different review than I’ve written here before because I don’t want to give too much away. Part of the joy of this book was figuring out who the narrator is and what she wants and hopes to achieve with Maddie Brodatt’s story. In the pages we read, she’s broken by her captors, but she is desperate to finish telling her story. She wants to get to the end and will trade whatever secrets she can in order to get more paper and more time. It’s a haunting book, and one that I wish I could experience again for the first time. It was, in fact, so amazing, that I had to listen to the audiobook.
As loyal readers of this blog may know, I am a huge fan of audiobooks. The Code Name Verity audiobook was one of the best produced and best acted audiobooks I have ever listened to. The readers manage to convey a lot of emotion and character through their voices, creating distinct personalities that you can identify easily. It had me sitting in my car long after I arrived at my destination, pained at the idea of leaving the story behind.
I loved this book, and even though I have read it twice, I can absolutely see myself reading it a third time, just to get pulled into the world that Elizabeth Wein created. This book will appeal to readers who are drawn to historical stories, stories about friendship, and page-turning mysteries. We have multiple copies at the library, so consider picking it up the next time you are here.