Miss Riki’s Review:
When a British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France on October 11th, 1943, the lives of two best friends are changed forever. The pilot, Maddie has a chance at survival and fights to uncover the secret of her missing best friend. Meanwhile, “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo and doesn’t seem to have any chances for survival. In an intricately weaved confession, Verity reveals her past and her unbreakable connection with Maddie, trading war secrets for hopes of release. In a dangerous world with little hope for survival, these best friends will make the ultimate in sacrifices.
I absolutely loved the main characters in this book. First we have Julie (“Verity”), well-educated Scottish aristocracy who speaks three languages and trains to be a WWII spy. Then we have Maddie, the Jewish granddaughter of a bike shop owner who loves to fly. Together they are one of the most interesting and compelling friendships I’ve ever read in a young adult novel. Despite being from very different backgrounds and the fact that they are often separated by conditions of the war, their bond is unbreakable. But my love for the characters in this novel doesn’t stop there. Wein has managed to write a truly multi-faceted and complex villain in Julie’s capturer, Hauptsturmfürer von Linden. He is evil incarnate in so many ways, yet as the book progresses, a definite sense of humanity emerges that complicates the reader’s feelings. Characterization in this novel is so well done!
Code Name Verity is written in two parts, with the first part focusing on Julie’s handwritten confession and the second part from Maddie’s point of view. Julie’s confession is beautifully crafted and is such a unique way to tell the story. Through her eyes we get not only the necessary backstory on how she and Maddie became friends, but also her more immediate situation, including the torture and coercion being inflicted upon her. It is extremely well done and engaging from start to finish, although it is at times difficult to read for its heartbreaking realism. When we move to Maddie’s point of view, we find out the other half of the story from where the two girls are separated when the plane goes down.
It’s difficult to discuss the novel without giving any spoilers, but I will say that the ending was heart wrenching and left me a blubbering mess. I cried for probably the last thirty pages of the novel and was left emotionally bereft. I have to say, however, that it is emotional without being melodramatic.
If you’re reading young adult historical novels, you absolutely cannot pass Code Name Verity by. It is a Michael L. Printz Honor book for a reason and shouldn’t be missed.