Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Grades 8 and up. Hyperion, May 2012. 343 pages. Review copy provided by my local library.
I don't even want to tell you too much about the plot because it's twisty and I think the best way to experience it is to just dive on in.
Her code name is Verity. She's a British spy and she's been captured in Nazi-occupied France. She never thought she'd be the kind of person to give up information if she was captured, but that was before she was tortured. Now, she'll tell them anything for a glimmer of hope that she might survive. She's already given up eleven lines of code. And now she's writing down anything else she can think of that might be of interest. But will her secrets be enough to ensure her own survival?
Holy cats. So, I picked up this book because it's getting crazy positive buzz around the blogosphere. War stories aren't necessarily my thing, but I was intrigued by the aspect of women serving in the British military in WWII. And once I got into the story, I just never wanted to put the book down. The thing about this book is that the characters are SO REAL and it's written in such a way that the reader can EASILY believe that all of the things actually happened exactly how they are written. This is a story to get lost in with characters that I came to love and root for.
The story is steeped in historical detail, meticulously researched by the author (and yes, she provides an author's note and a selected bibliography). She took great pains to make sure the details she included were plausible, even if they weren't necessarily exactly true (she made up place names, etc.). It's an intricate story with a lot of characters and a lot of action as Verity reveals how she came to be on her particular mission through her friendship with Maddie, a woman pilot for the British RAF. Really, this is a war story and a historical story, but it's very much a story about an incredible friendship. Maddie and Verity are the kind of best friends who would actually die for each other. Maybe it's the kind of friendship that could only be forged in an intense situation like a war.
I'd hand it to fans of World War II fiction, people looking for strong heroines (this would make a great Women's History Month selection), and possibly fans of Jenny Davidson's The Explosionist, which is another intricate WWII story with a female protagonist (although The Explosionist is alternate history!). I'd also try it on fans of Flygirl by Sherri Smith, which is another story about a strong young lady serving her country by flying planes during WWII.
Check out more reviews at Book Nut, Confessions of a Bibliovore, Forever Young Adult, Parenthetical, The Reading Zone, and STACKED.
Code Name Verity is on shelves now!