“It’s like being in love, discovering your best friend.”
Code Name Verity (2012) by Elizabeth Wein (find it on Bookshop) is a strange book in that, I’m not sure what I can actually tell you about it without ruining everything. A plane has crashed in Nazi-occupied France. The passenger and the pilot are best friends. One girl might be able to save herself while the other never really stood a chance. Faced with an impossible situation, one of the girls begins to weave an intricate confession. Some of it might be embellished, some of it might even be false. But in the end all of it is ultimately the truth–both of her mission and a friendship that transcends all obstacles.
Broken into two parts, Code Name Verity is a masterfully written book as, time and time again, Wein takes everything readers know and turns it upside down as another dimension is added to the plot and its intricate narrative.
If a sign of excellent historical fiction is believing all of the details are presented as fact, then the sign of an excellent novel might well be wanting to re-read it immediately to see just how well all of the pieces fit together. Code Name Verity meets both of these criteria.
With wartime England and France as a backdrop, there is always a vague sense of foreboding and danger hanging over these characters. There is death and violence. There is action and danger. And yet there are also genuinely funny moments and instances of love and resistance.
Nothing in Code Name Verity is what it seems upon first reading–sometimes not even upon second reading. This book is undoubtedly a stunning work of historical fiction filled with atmospheric details of everything from airplanes to Scottish landscapes. But what really sets Code Name Verity apart is the dazzling writing and intricate plot that Wein presents. Then, beyond the plotting and the details, there are the two amazing young women at the center of a book that could have been about war or flying or even spies but ultimately became an exceptional book about true friends.
Possible Pairings: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson, Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, Traitor by Amanda McCrina, Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel, Tamar by Mal Peet, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff, In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
You can also check out my exclusive interview with Elizabeth about this book!
3 thoughts on “Code Name Verity: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review”
Oh, I loved this book SO MUCH. I think you’re right about reading it twice. It felt like FACT, I was totally and completely immersed – I still don’t understand how Wein did that so well. I know I’ll be reading and rereading this one for years, for the wonderful friendship in its pages. Even now getting teary thinking about it.
I am on my third reading, and reading your post makes me want to pick it up again. Maybe the single best book I read last year. I bought this when it came out and it languished on my bookcase until Thanksgiving break and it made me cry like a baby. I think that I avoided it because it was historical fiction, but so truly wonderful for so many incredible reasons. Wein really pulled off a hat trick with this one.
@Cecelia: It’s really so great. I get a little teary everything I think about “Kiss me, Hardy.” And I have a signed copy and Wein underlined the quote I started the review with–which also chokes me up every time.
@Margaret: I don’t have time to re-read it but I really want to (despite finishing it last month) just to take notes on how exactly Wein made all the pieces fit together. Just wow.