Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This book was a late breaking favorite for TATAL, it was one of our favorite books of 2012AND A PRINTZ HONOR BOOK (!!!!) but we never had a full review. Thankfully Kady is here to fill us all in on this wonderful book:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

There are a lot of ways a spy could have gotten caught in hostile territory during World War II. By far the stupidest way would be to look the wrong way while crossing the road because you expected traffic to be coming from the other direction. If you did that you might also almost get run over by a delivery truck, only to have your life saved at the last minute by a German soldier who would then turn you over to the proper authorities right away.

Our spy, code named Verity, has been having a rough week. First, she had to parachute out of  crashing plane, flown by her best friend. Then that whole nonsense with looking the wrong way and being captured and now she's being held captive in what was once a very nice hotel in occupied France and she's being tortured. The commanding officer in charge of her prison has given her some paper and a pen and asked her to write the narrative of how she came to be a (fairly useless) spy in occupied France, and of course, any useful information that the Germans might be able to use against the British. Desperate to keep writing, because the longer she keeps writing the longer she knows she'll be alive, Verity pours her heart into the narrative. Through her writing we learn all about her life during the war, her duties in the Royal Air Force and her friendship with Maddy, the downed pilot.

Code Name Verity hits like a sucker punch to the gut and is one of the best odes to friendship that I've ever read. It's exciting and dangerous  and watching it all unfold little by little until the pieces fit together was one of the most satisfying reading experiences that I've ever had. Like I said in my year end Top Ten round-up, I had an extreme emotional reaction to this book on a plane that began with me freaking out a 7th grader and ended with me convincing her to buy the book for her older sister by the end of the flight.

Here's the other thing: the book is meticulously researched. Elizabeth Wein must have spent so much time making sure every single detail was exactly right. She's a pilot herself, so all of the technical plane talk was right on the money, but she went even farther. There's an extensive bibliography in the back of the written version of the book (I hear the audio is also fantastic!) that even includes things like knitting patterns for clothes that Verity and Maddy would have worn. 

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