I’ve decided that Elizabeth Wein must have some kind of vendetta against reviewers. Because really, has there ever been a book more impossible to review than Code Name Verity? I have read raves about this book in two different newspapers and on half a dozen blogs. And at some point, everyone says “I don’t want to spoil it for you…” Because, as the character Verity repeats “Careless talk costs lives!” Or at least it costs the reader some enjoyment for this fascinating, thought-provoking, heart-wrenching tale of friendship and mistakes.
So although I am fortunately not facing torture and interrogation by the Gestapo, I will keep my mouth shut. As Verity sings the praises of her friend Maddie, I will merely point out the many wonders of this book. The historical setting, in 1940’s England, Scotland and France is precise and vivid, helping us understand the tensions and sacrifices of living in wartime. The story is an adventure, taking both main characters far outside their experience and comfort zones. It’s a mystery, because for most of the story, neither main character knows what has happened to the other. Wein is a master of foreshadowing and irony. Everyone I know who has read the book immediately went straight back to the beginning after they finished, to try and track down the clues hidden in the text. Finally, and most importantly, it is a story of friendship. Friendship of the best kind–two people who are different in background, interests, and personality but who just fit so perfectly that they will protect each other until they die. For anyone interested in the lost heroes of World War II, spies and pilots, or just tales of unlikely and lifelong friendships, this is the book to read.
Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein, Hyperion, $16.99 Ages 14 and up