Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Veritcode namey was a totally unknown book for me –a gift from a friend.  I hadn’t heard of it and didn’t know anything about this novel.   So, one evening as I curled up with my new book, I  realized I seldom read books anymore without preconceived opinions — having read reviews or based on recommendations of my respected reader friends and family.   I remembered the magic of opening an totally unknown novel and I found myself anticipating this read with a tingle of excitement.

Note to self:  do this more often.

Book Description:   Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

The novel is targeted to the YA audience, but has a maturity that makes it suitable  for any age.    The structure is unique and fresh.  Verity is forced to write out her confession, give up military codes to get her clothes back one by one.  And does she write!  Verity writes and writes her confession in a sometimes meandering miss-mash of present, past, her friendship with fellow pilot  Maddie, details about the planes,  and most heartbreaking the suffering she and her fellow captives experience.

The confession is for Captain Von Linden (her captor) and it soon becomes clear that he is as interested in her story as gaining spy knowledge.  Verity knows this and she plays games with him during the writing.   It’s a narrative to be read slowly and without distraction as historical details abound, there are humorous passages  and many clues are given.

The characters cross over mid-novel, the narrative changes and the story takes a major twist.  No spoilers here, just trust that things get really exciting and scarey.

I was drawn into these strong women (called girls throughout the book) and their equally strong friendship.  I was also fascinated by the historical details especially about England’s WWII  women transport pilots.

I think readers of any age will be drawn into this war time novel of endurance, secrets, friendship, and most importantly strong women role models.


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