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Code Name Verity Paperback – February 1, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
There are few books that leave me speechless.
This would be one of them.
I'll admit, I had my reservations in the beginning. The narrator RAMBLES like whoa. I mean, I was reading on a screen and I saw pages taken up by just two paragraphs and I thought "Swell, this is just going and going and I'm going to be bored to tears."
I wasn't. Not by a long shot.
Usually, if the narrator rambles, I get bored and lose interest. Not here. Sometimes I feel like narrators in YA lack a distinct voice, but-again-not here. Verity HAS VOICE. Verity HAS PRESENCE. Despite the fact that she tells her story from Maddie's point of view, talking about herself in the first person, I felt like I was seeing into Verity's soul. There was no doubt in my mind about the voice that was just flying off the pages, talking to my heart. She not only managed to win me over despite rambling, but also despite talking about herself in the third person, which is huge. (The third person thing makes sense later, but I can't say anything about that!)
Plus, I was expecting a pretty dark, dramatic book. It is both of those things, but imagine my surprise when I found myself laughing out loud multiple times while I was reading. While Verity is being held by the Gestapo. I was laughing. That's how spectacular Verity is. That's how strong she is. That's what this book is like.
I'd also like to give a brief shout out on a very touchy subject. Not only is Verity a rounded person, but the German Officer who interrogates her is also a rounded character. He isn't this mindless drone, which I found very refreshing and made the book even more real. It would have been so, so easy to stereotype this guy, but Wein didn't. She MADE IT REAL.
You have no idea how hard it is not to comment on the second half of the book. I literally don't know how to write about that. I'll admit, personally here I found the voice weaker and several things too rushed, but at the same time I can't imagine certain events having differently, not if they still wanted to be real. The ending is very bittersweet, so I suppose my mixed feelings are supposed to be there.
And trust me, all of my feelings are there.
I could get technical. I could. I could talk for ages about the rambling, the technicalities, and the story tangents that don't make sense til the second half of the book. With any other book, I would. But with this one, I just can't. Code Name Verity was just one of those books.
A good book is fun to read. A good book takes you to a new place for a time, but then you put it down and you go on with your life. Code Name Verity was not a good book.
Code Name Verity was a great book.
It was the kind of book with images, words and ideas that get under your skin. The kind of story that melts into your heart. It was an experience that is with you long after you've closed the book. THAT is the kind of story that comes with Code Name Verity.
When you read enough reviews that refuse to talk about the plot, you know there is a twist coming, but the twist ended up being other than what I expected, so thank you previous reviewers.
The VOICE in this book! The voiceS. I was riveted all through the book by how vivid and rich the conversations were. There are 24 highlights in this book, which is about double my usual rate, because I couldn't let phrases like
"You ignorant Quisling bastard, SS-Scharführer Etienne Thibaut, I AM SCOTTISH."
"Oh my sainted aunt! unlimited visibility! unlimited visibility except for the dirty great city in the northwest! That would be the dirty great city surrounded at 3000 feet by a few hundred silver hydrogen balloons as big as buses! How in the name of mud is he going to find Berlin if he can't find Manchester?"
Anyway, it's a war book. It's like many other war books for young readers, about the inhumanity of war and the humanity of the individuals writing it, and how jarring it is to try to understand all that together. I would unhesitatingly give this book to a middle-schooler. There is violence, but it is mostly by reference, and there is fear, the book is thick with it, but each of the main characters makes a list of things she is afraid of, and both of them include Failing Other People. I love books that are about being equally scared of dying and failing.
Fascinatingly, this is an entirely aromantic book. It's like everyone is so busy staying alive/fighting Nazis that they have all the mate-finding and sexual pursuit burned out of them. Except for one creepy handsy character, which I thought was a fascinating and unnecessary inclusion, but it models how to handle someone sexually pushy without becoming completely unhistorical. It makes the book more complicated and richer.
<cite>I suppose all he wanted was a kiss and a cuddle. He backed off looking deeply injured and left me feeling guilty and dirty and prudish all at once.<cite> Yes! That's what it feels like. And we should be saying so.
Read if: You have previously liked Elizabeth Wein books, you read /Escape from Colditz/ obsessively as a child, you wish you were clever and brave. You love stories about unlikely friends who push each other to be better. You like books with extensive bibliographies and references to English literature. (yes, this book was obviously written exactly for me. My point is that it may be exactly for you, too.)
Skip if: historically-accurate references to torture, execution, and the general misery of occupied France are going to be a problem for you.
Also read: Escape from Colditz;: The two classic escape stories: The Colditz story, and Men of Colditz.Rifles for Watie.
Final note: This book is way too absorbing to put down easily. It's not long, but allocate some undisturbed time for it.