Friday, February 26, 2016

[Review] Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Version: Paperback FC
Rating: 5 stars

Release Date: February 6th 2012

Goodreads Summary:
I have two weeks. You'll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.
That's what you do to enemy agents. It's what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine - and I will do anything, anything to avoid SS-Hauptsturmf├╝hrer von Linden interrogating me again.
He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I'm going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France - an Allied Invasion of Two.
We are a sensational team.

"Kiss me HARDY! Kiss me QUICK!"

This book tore apart my emotions. It wasn't even from angst or romance, but from how beautifully portrayed the friendship between these two very different girls was. Verity is beautiful, poised, and a smooth-talker with the men. Kittyhawk is passionate about flying, devoted to the task at hand and what she has to do. And yet, despite their differences, they are the closest of friends. Why can't we have more books about friendship?

To make this easier, Verity is Julie and Kittyhawk is Maddie, and for the first half, Julie is writing; the second, Maddie takes over. Julie has been captured by the Gestapo at Ormaie during a secret mission into Nazi-ridden France. Now that she has been captured, the only way to escape is simple. To tell the truth. Julie recounts how she met Maddie through a series of journal entries, from Maddie's realization she wanted to be a pilot up to the point they parted ways.

Maddie is the pilot who brought Julie to her mission, and since the plan has gone awry, it's up to her to find her best friend. But can both of them escape Ormaie alive?

The prose of this book was outstanding. Wein showed a clear contrast between Maddie and Julie (I was slightly worried they would sound exactly the same), but you can tell the differences between the POV shifts. There still is a parallelism between the two girls, and it's quite tear-jerking when you start connecting the dots, finding out the truth for yourself. I won't be a complete spoiler, but here's an example of some intense parallelism.

You know, I envied her. I envied her the simplicity of her work, the spiritual cleanness of it - Fly the plane, Maddie. That was all she had to do. There was no guilt, no moral dilemma, no argument or anguish - danger, yes, but she always knew what she was facing. And I envied that she had chosen her work herself and was doing what she wanted to do. I don't suppose I had any idea what I "wanted" and so I was chosen, not choosing. There's glory and honor in being chosen. But not much room for free will. 
Sometimes Julie used to make me jealous - her cleverness, her ease with men, how posh she is - the grouse-shooting and the Swiss school and speaking in three languages and being presented to the king in a blue silk ball gown - even her MBE after she caught those spies, like being knighted, and especially her term at Oxford - and I hate myself for ever having thought any of it was worth envying. 
The cast of characters, as well, were multi-faceted and not entirely all good or all evil. If Julie led you to one conclusion (and she led us down many roads of assumptions), Maddie will make you think otherwise. Everyone has their secrets, and there's this constant recurring theme of telling the truth. It makes you wonder, which account was the entirely honest version?

In spite of all the seriousness, there are many lighthearted moments within Code Name Verity. Fraulein Engel, Julie's jailkeeper, and her interactions with Julie, all the sarcastic, even joking banter, broke an otherwise dire mood.

If it seems like I have been sticking my foot in WWII historical fiction, it is true. This time period has so many sides and POV's, with authors like Elizabeth Wein and Ruta Sepetys providing us marvelous fiction that seems just a few steps away from fact. For Code Name Verity, Wein captured the effect and strength of women during wartime. I didn't even know ATA pilots in WWII had a women's division! She mixes this in with a powerful friendship, and it combines to make such a wonderful book.

This is the kind of book I would read over and over, even if it is very sad and emotional and probably isn't the happiest book to give to your friend for her birthday. I recommend it though. Read it with your best friend. You and your best friend will love it, and possibly even grow closer.

I have told the truth.

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