Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity is the book I have been dying to read even before I knew it existed. It's the book I will still be talking about for the rest of the year (and probably much longer). And it's the book with so many complexly interwoven details that I'm sure it will continue to stun me for many rereadings to come. 

Verity, the code name of our narrator, is actually an Allied agent who has been captured by the Nazis in occupied France. Opting against torture, Verity (also known as Queenie to her friends) has agreed to divulge codes and other Allied wartime secrets for her captor, SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden. Thus begin the outpouring of secrets. Though even as she is proclaiming herself a coward (and traitor) with her every breath, Queenie is constantly needling her captors and poking fun at her own very dire situation with her endlessly dark and razor sharp humor. What Queenie does write to her captors however is not simply a list of British secrets and codes but the story of herself and her best friend Maddie, an airplane pilot. Woven into their initial introduction and developing friendship are all the details von Linden demanded asked for, but by setting it agonist the backdrop of their relationship, you have an inside view of the life of two strong-willed women during WWII: the secrets they kept and the lies they told.

Almost from word go, you get the immediate sense that Queenie is not all she proclaims to be. In fact, she herself describes herself thus:
I am in the Special Operations Executive because I can speak French and German and am good at making up stories and I am a prisoner in the Ormaie Gestapo HQ because I have no sense of direction whatsoever.
'Making up stories' indeed. With this one sentence very early on we get an immediate sense of the vitality and humor possessed by Queenie and that perhaps our storyteller is not as reliable as she proclaims herself to be. What makes this story so unforgettable (just like one of Queenie's stories) are the details. Hundreds of tiny historical facts about planes, the RAF, the WAAF, literature, and even the history of the ballpoint pen! I simply couldn't wait to pick up Code Name Verity as each time as I knew every page would contain  another adventure, another heartbreak.

Perhaps my favorite line from Cody Name Verity (and you better believe my copy has been bombed with bookmarks) is after Queenie and Maddie have just begun to get to know one another and Queenie writes,
It's like being in love, discovering your best friend.
This line, my friends, utterly encapsulates why I am head over heels for this book. Yes, it is full of surprises and intrigue but at the heart it is a beautiful story of two friends -- who would have never, ever become close had the situation been different -- but who did find each other and had one of those stunning relationships that you always find yourself completely giddy over. I can't say it enough, this book blew me away. I simply cannot get the story out of my head. Verity's voice and Maddie's story are so intricately crafted. It's one of those lovely stories that as soon as you finish, you just want to immediately jump right back into a satisfying reread to rediscover (or maybe even for the first time) all those seemingly innocent details inserted along the way. Just go ahead and read it now, I'll patiently wait for your gushing reply. Grab a box a tissues though, you'll be needing them.

And, if you get the chance, check out these links for a few interviews with Elizabeth Wein.
Shelf Awareness
~ Huffington Post (in which Elizabeth Wein reveals she's working on Part II of Code Name Verity!! wheeee!)
~ Kirkus

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy review
The Book Smugglers review
Chachic's Book Nook review
Maggie Stiefvater Five Things review
Steph Su Reads review

book source: NetGalley

10 comments:

Liviania said...

I have heard so many good things about this book and can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

There just aren't enough books about friendships.

Janicu said...

"Just go ahead and read it now, I'll patiently wait for your gushing reply. "

This is so true. This book was gooood. I just.. no words for how I felt at the end.

Michelle said...

Liviania - Do so immediately! It's perfect.

Janice - I didn't know you'd read it! Have you reviewed it already?

Holly said...

I can't wait to read this! It's on my immediate TBR at the moment.

Chachic said...

Michelle, SO glad you loved this as well! It makes me happy whenever we feel the same way about the books we read. This one made it to the top of my favorites list, I still think it's the best book that I've read in 2012 so far. EWein's writing is amazing, I have a feeling she'll still make me cry when I get the chance to reread this.

Yep, I second the tissue recommendation.

Michelle said...

Holly - Oh you must read it. Immediately!

Chachic - I'm sure this will be one of my top reads for 2012 too. So much wonderful stuff in this one. Thanks again for pointing it out to me :)

shelfworn said...

I've been seeing this pop up on my RSS reader and I must read it!

Charlotte said...

Part II of Code Name Verity!!!!

Wow! Exciting news! must go read Huff. Post....

Chachic said...

Are you planning to read EWein's other novels? :)

Ελλάδα said...

The story reads like a diary/journal of sorts, and split in two parts between Verity and Maddie. I LOVED that. Where the first part ended, the second part would start through the eyes of the next. I couldn't help but be caught up in the whirl wind of emotion that poured out of the pages of Code Name Verity. Author, Elizabeth Wein, put in so much feeling in Code Name Verity. It was because of these little snippits of emotion that were in the beginning half of the book that had me continuing to read, rather than not finishing it. I, for one, am so glad that I decided to keep going.

It was heartbreaking to read about the torture and pain that Verity had to go through when she was captured and held prisoner at Gestapo headquarters. To be forced to watch the torture of other victims as a way to have her confess codes and other military secrets to aid them in the war. To read about how she was tortured, and just how much more she could endure for another week of life....another day even.