I recently cracked open Code Name Verity and stepped through time into World War II. I thought I knew what I was in for: Two best friends, a pilot and a spy, kicking butt and taking names from the Gestapo.
This book that met and exceeded every expectation I had. A friend had hyped it up for me, so I was expecting something good. It was so good, you guys. Oh, my gosh. Let me lay it out for you:
Part One is told from the point of view of the spy, whose name you don’t discover until you’re nearly halfway done with the book. She is in France, being interrogated by the Nazis, and as part of her agreement with the people torturing her she is allowed to write down the story of how she got where she is.
Part Two is told from the point of view of the pilot, the spy’s best friend. Her name is Maddie, and she is trying to get home to England. She writes diary-type entries in near-real-time.
Part One is fantastic. I had to force myself to put it down on more than one occasion. Then I got to Part Two and I literally had to cover the right-hand page with my fingers because I was trying to read so fast I kept on jumping ahead without totally finishing the left page. That’s right. I devoured the last half of the book. I was in total panic mode, and it went like this: “Yay! NOOOO! Awww! AAAAAHHHHHH NOOOOOO! WHAT. YAY!” and so on.
Elizabeth Wein has apparently written many other historical fiction books for young adults, though I haven’t read any of them. Code Name Verity has won an Edgar Award, is a Boston Globe/Horn Book Award Honor-winner, and has many other awards and honors under its belt. And for good reason, too – this book is a whirlwind of emotional reading that grabs you by the hair, yanks you inside, and won’t let you go until the very end.
This book reminded me how much I love historical fiction, and how many different ways tension can be used. Wein’s writing is fluid and strong, and the twists she hides in the story are top-caliber. It was fun, touching, and harrowing, all at the same time.
Next on Michelle’s list of to-read books is the last of the Divergent series and the first of the Harry Dresden Files. She’s always looking for new books and new authors, so if you have any ideas, send them over!