Code Name Verity - YA Review by Elise

Reader: Elise S.
Age: 17
Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth E. Wein
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Pub Date: 05/15/12
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: Unreliable narrator is one of the most interesting and least used writing strategies. When done well, it shines, pulling readers into the story. I will try my best not to give anything away in this review, but each detail of the story was so intricately woven into truths and lies by the protagonists that it is awfully difficult! Verity wove her tale so convincingly at the beginning, that it was an amazing process of matching up Maddie's story. (This is the sticky spoilers part) the character choices that were made in assuming Verity's guilt as a traitor, then questioning that later, were delicately played and completely entrancing.
Memorable or Forgettable: There was not a single character that was predictable, or even met any expectation. However, each of them stuck with how their character as a person should act. It takes a dedicated, extremely talented creative team of authors and editors that understand their story well enough to do this. Wein could have gotten away with fluffing some of her background characters, as many authors do, but putting in the extra energy and effort to develop so many people made the book stand out. The same level of energetic commitment was apparent in the research into time period planes, war time procedures, and international relations and spy efforts.
Cover: This is an example of a well designed, classy cover. The colors contrast dramatically, but keep a level of grittiness that ties them back with the harsh book. The hands especially get the beautiful friendship and desperation. It was striking, attractive and tied into the book - the perfect mix!
Age Range: 12 through 18 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 5P Everyone wants to read it
Additional Comments: One of my problems with YA is the prevalence of romance in every single genre. It seems like no teen fiction can be published without a romantic relationship; no character is complete without a love life. Code Name Verity breaks that trend, creating whole characters outside of a strictly defined relationship. The door is left open for something deeper between the two protagonists, but it is left up for interpretation; the flexibility is yet another way this book is beautiful!
Annotation: Maddie and Verity, two lives wound together against the dramatic backdrop of secret agents, pilots and World War II France and Britain. In a tale that rivets readers like Rosie did planes, the relationship between two brave women twists and turns to a stunning conclusion.

tags: historical fiction / World War II / espionage / suspense / ya lit

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