Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

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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.  They’ll get the truth out of her.  But it won’t be what they expect.

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 a merciless and ruthless enemy?

Rating: 4/10

I feel like this book could have been good if a few things about it had changed. Half of the book is written from “Verity’s” point of view as she writes down her confessions on whatever pieces of paper her captors can scrounge up. Normally, it would be interesting/heart-wrenching to read about a character who has been tortured and forced to give up secrets in order to try and make the pain stop, however, the confessions that she writes is done is such an unrealistic way that it was distracting. Basically, she is allowed to sit there and write a novel about her life story from how she first go involved in the war to her capture. Wein tries to make this seem plausible by showing that the SS officer (SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer von Linden) in charge is actually a very literary person and enjoys a good narrative, by I’m not buying it. There is no way that the officer von Linden works under would allow this to continue. Von Linden probably would have been shot in the head long before “Verity” even got close to the juicy bits of the story. This alone was enough to ruin this whole section for me.

However, by the second half, it got better. Which is why this book isn’t graded lower than it is. The second half is from the perspective of her friend of whom “Verity” talks about in her ever so lengthy confession. Maddie is a much more realistic character, and the manner of her writing down her experiences of hiding in occupied France makes much more sense as is acts as both a report on her plane crash and a diary. I also believe that Maddie is a much more interesting character than “Verity”.

Maddie’s constant fear of getting captured was very real, and not only did she worry about herself but she constantly worried about the family that was hiding her away, knowing that if she were caught, this family would surely die, or worse, be tortured by the Nazis. She was also the more relateable character as she is not actually a member of the military and so doesn’t have the training for these situations like “Verity” has. She admits to her fear, and while she claims that she is a coward, Maddie is actually one of the bravest people in the whole book, as she does what needs to be done despite the fear that she feels. This, in my opinion, is true courage.

If this whole book were written in the perspective of Maddie, or if the “Verity” sections were short, and thus more realistic, I would have enjoyed this book much more than I did. As is, I can’t give it a higher score since I really disliked half the book. And disliking half the book automatically disqualifies it from high scoring.

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