Review – Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

11925514My fellow muses are probably going to banish me to the stables for this, but I have to begin this review by stating that YA fiction is not a genre that I read or enjoy…. Yes, I can feel the death stares permeating through my skin as I type! However, I like a challenge, and so I decided to read a YA, yes you read correctly, a YA novel called Code Name Verity. Actually, truth be told, I listened to it on audio, rather than read, but same difference!
Frustratingly, this is one of those novels where you can’t give too much of a synopsis due to spoilers, so this will be brief: WWII, two young women, one of whom is captured in Nazi occupied France. The novel begins with “Verity” writing a confession in a prison cell, and thus begins the tale. Through this epistolary novel, Verity tells a story of Queenie and her friend, Maddie, and their experiences being stationed together during the war. The story is split between 1st person narrations (Verity’s experience in the prison), 3rd person narration (the story of Queenie and Maddie’s friendship) and the narration is primarily shared between Verity and Maddie.
Listening on audio, you get the added advantage of hearing different voices for different characters. This helped a lot, and was appropriate due to the style in which the novel is written. As I mentioned above, I don’t usually read YA, but this one was so different. It had the usual components of a YA novel – very little swearing, not really any sexual situations, and no gratuitous violence. However, this one presented certain situations in an extremely frank and honest manner, without sensationalising and gratuitousness: E.G., the interrogation scenes were very frightening and horrific, but they were honest, and didn’t feel like they were exploiting it. It’s hard to explain, but I felt like it read as an adult book, but at the same time, it would still be appropriate for an older teenager.
If you do decide to pick this story up, which I highly recommend that you do, be prepared to find yourself laughing, possibly crying, gasping, cringing, and recoiling. It will hit on most of your emotions and it will leave you asking yourself what if? What if you were captured by an enemy agent? Would you divulge crucial secrets? Would you do anything to survive? Would you break? Elizabeth Wein has written a fresh, unique and interesting WWII story that is brutal, honest, emotive, and effective. Do yourself a favour and read this gem of a novel before some big film studio ‘effs it up and makes a piss poor adaptation.
Enjoy ~ Pegasus
Code Name Verity (Edgar Allen Poe Awards. Best Young Adult (Awards))