April 3, 2013

Review: Code Name Verity

By: Elizabeth Wein
Published: May 2012 by Disney-Hyperion
Format: Hardback, 332 pages
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
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I have told the truth.

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.
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

Rating: 5/5

The second I found out about this book, I whipped out the debit card and bought it. It didn't even matter that I had a mini fit over not having the U.K. cover of the book (I mean, look at it...?) and considered hounding my best friend in England to ship me a copy. I mean, that would have just taken too long and this book is too good to wait to be read. So if you have a copy, what are you waiting for? Don't even bother reading this review. Just go read the book first, and then come back afterwards. And if you don't have it yet, if I can't convince you to go get it (order it or in-person bookstore trip, I'm not picky), then I'll slap myself silly.

So, it's been a few hours since I finished and I still have a knot in my stomach. Oh, the feels I got from this. Like, oh my god, I can't believe what happened. I can, but I can't, and then I can again, and it's just an oh my god feeling. I love books that can give me that lump in your chest that makes you unsure of how to feel yet gives you so much feeling at the same time.

The subject matter of this was fantastic and fresh. I salute Wein for tackling it. I double salute her for how she tackled it. At first, I wasn't sure if I'd like the whole written confession/story thing. I thought it might end badly and was worried the execution wouldn't have been good enough to warrant the style. But I couldn't be more wrong. By the third of the way through, I couldn't imagine this story being told any other way. It needed unreliable narrators. I had both girls narrating in my head, could see it as if it were the perfect movie, and it became as though I was truly in their minds.

Truly. Truth. Verity. Oh, the beauty of that symbol throughout this book. The more I sit here, the more I pick out aspects of the novel that just fit stunningly together, creating this symbolic work of art. Not only did Wein craft this well, I fell in love with her writing style in general. Her diction and phrasing, and I'd be lying if I said I hadn't already pre-ordered her next book, Rose Under Fire, that comes out in the fall. She gave me some of my favorite lines from books ever, including, "It's like falling in love, discovering your best friend." My heart does a little flip every time I read/write that line. It's gorgeous.

I very much enjoyed the pacing of this. I know some others thought it was slow in the beginning and/or throughout, but for me personally, I loved it. I'm that type of reader, though. I also loved the believability she gave to Verity's emotions while she was writing. The plot itself, like I said, was incredibly fresh and I found myself wanting so badly to skip ahead. That's when I know the plot is doing it's job; when I want so badly to know what happens and I can't read fast enough.

There was only one part of this book I had a bit of a problem with. There were many times where I didn't quite connect with Maddie. Or rather, didn't quite connect with Verity's memories of and feelings toward Maddie. I got their friendship, I felt their friendship, but not as much as I think I should have. However, thinking back, I find it believable that Verity would have left so much of her and Maddie's close friendship out of her confessions. Then when it was Maddie's narrative, it took a while for me to get into her mind, but maybe that was because I became so attached to Verity that it was hard to come out of her head and fall into another's.

All in all, this is going on my favorites list, pretty darn close to the top. It gave me nearly everything little thing I want from a book (only a little hiccup on the emotional connection level at a few points) and it's one that'll have me thinking about it for days, weeks, months to come. There's not much else you can ask from a book, is there?


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