Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Review: Code Name Verity

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Teen Reviewer: Brittany Palandra
Rating: 5/5 stars

Two British women land in France, a pilot and her passenger. They are best friends. And they are a sensational team. Verity is an English- sorry, Scottish- spy who was working in Nazi-occupied France, captured by the exact organization she was plotting against during her trip. A prisoner of the Gestapo, she strikes a deal with the captain. She has 2 weeks to make her confession, written on as much paper as she needs. As she tells the story of her treason, Verity reveals how she became friends with the pilot who dropped her, Maddie, and how the two of them ended up in the midst of a war. She uncovers her fears, along with her thoughts on war, courage, and coping. She knows that she’ll die anyway. She just hopes they’ll be easy on her.

Well, this was certainly a remarkable story. A remarkable story told from the point of view of a remarkable woman. Verity wasn’t excessively brave or strong. Just resourceful enough that she didn’t need to be. Verity wasn’t above acting like scum, losing her dignity, to ease her way through the prison. So when she faces a situation with a grim and permanent ending, all she can do is try to ease it with this confession. What I like is that although she’s this clever spy, she can be defeated. The torture actually works. The kerosene in her hair and cigarettes against her neck break her down. Because no one can sit with a brave patriotic face while the enemy cuts your tongue, breaks your teeth, and sticks you with pins incessantly. It was gritty and realistic.

Verity and Maddie tell conjoined stories, and you need the both of them together. The novel wouldn’t mean anything with only Verity’s confession or only Maddie’s notes. Maddie fills all the holes we were left with after Verity tells her story. It had glorious closure, the kind you often feel you need but never get in some of those emotionally wrecking tales of endless uncertainty. The story is a happy, satisfying one in the end.
 5/5 stars.  

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