What I'm Reading: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Attention to all my historical fiction fans! This one is for you! Code Name Verity is set in the early 1940s, and first interested me because it is about a young girl who is a secret agent. What about that doesn't sound cool?

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Oct. 11th, 1943--A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun. 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. 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 and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

What I Liked: 1) So our MC is a spy, and she's been arrested by the Gestapo. And because of that, she gives so little away of herself throughout the book. Typically, this would really bother me, because when I don't click with a character, it ends up really messing up the book. But because of the nature of this book, where she is trying to keep her identity a secret, it made sense. And I liked how natural it seemed, to be hiding her identity and background. 2) The friendship between Verity and KittyHawk. I am choosing to use one of many names the girls go by in the book, because I think it makes it all the more interesting as a reader to ferret everything out for yourself. But keep in mind that in the present time of the book, these girls never spend one minute together. Yet their friendship is a huge presence in the book, felt on an almost tangible level. I think it takes a great deal of talent from Miz Wein to bring this friendship to life so vividly without the two girls ever spending a moment together. 3) The concept. I have no idea if any of this is rooted in truth, if they used women as spies - well, I'm assuming they did. I mean, Mata Hari, come on. But reading about the girls' stories, their lives as they found their ways to be a part of the war effort, it was really a unique story to me.

What I Didn't Like: Well, the thing I wasn't expecting was the format, though I suppose I should have been. Most of the book is being written diary-style by the girl who has been captured and is being held by the Gestapo. It is all her memories, what she's been doing in the war, interspersed with what is happening with her in the present. It was hard to get into at first, I wouldn't say I was fully committed to the story until over 100 pages in. This was something that bothered me, but may not affect others in the slightest!

Overall Thoughts: Code Name Verity is an excellent example of historical YA fiction. Miz Wein clearly has a talent for building strong relationships between her characters, and creating an interesting story with little action. The ending left me all choked up, and while I wasn't pleased with it, I don't think it could have ended any other way. The format does take some getting used to but I think fans of this genre will find this book to be a really interesting read.

My Rating: 3.5 shots


  1. I want to read this book, but am afraid I won't like it. I am not big on the diary type writing, and I don't tend to read much historical. This sounds like a good book, but maybe not for me.

    1. It's not one that I think I'd read again. But I'm not big on historical fiction. I try and try, but just can't seem to get into it.


  2. Replies
    1. Thank you! I hope you like it if you decide to read it!



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