Summary and book reviews of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity

By Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity
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  • Hardcover: May 2012,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: May 2013,
    352 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Smith

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Book Summary

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? 

Harrowing and beautifully written, Elizabeth Wein creates a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other. Code Name Verity is an outstanding novel that will stick with you long after the last page.

Excerpt
Code Name Verity

I AM A COWARD. I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was. I have always been good at pretending. I spent the first twelve years of my life playing at the Battle of Stirling Bridge with my five big brothers—and even though I am a girl, they let me be William Wallace, who is supposed to be one of our ancestors, because I did the most rousing battle speeches. God, I tried hard last week. My God, I tried. But now I know I am a coward. After the ridiculous deal I made with SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden, I know I am a coward. And I'm going to give you anything you ask, everything I can remember. Absolutely Every Last Detail.

Here is the deal we made. I'm putting it down to keep it straight in my own mind. "Let's try this," the Hauptsturm-führer said to me. "How could you be bribed?" And I said I wanted my clothes back.

It seems petty, now. I am sure he was expecting my answer to be something defiant—"Give me...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Why is SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden keeping "Verity" alive and imprisoned at the Château de Bordeaux? Why do you think he is willing to give her so much time to write her confession?

  2. At the beginning of Code Name Verity, "Verity" starts her confessional story from Maddie's perspective rather than her own. Why? In "Kittyhawk," part two of the book, the author changes narrators from "Verity" to Maddie. Does this change your expectations of what's going to happen? Does having two narrators detract from the story or strengthen it? Why?

  3. According to William Shakespeare (The Tempest), "misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows." ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Through carefully crafted factual details, precise placement of suspense, and Queenie's phenomenal voice, Wein is able to literally make the reader hopeful and then skeptical, shocked and then relieved, all within a matter of paragraphs. She is brave in her dogged no-blink writing style just as Maddie and Queenie are brave in their staunch commitment to their incredibly dangerous jobs. And thus the reader becomes brave too.   (Reviewed by Tamara Smith).

Full Review Members Only (1145 words).

Media Reviews
Booklist

Starred Review. If you pick up this book, it will take some time before you put your dog-eared, tear-stained copy back down.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching. Ages 14–up.

The Horn Book

Starred Review. [Code Name Verity] is outstanding in all its features - its warm, ebullient characterization; its engagement with historical facts; its ingenious plot and dramatic suspense; and its intelligent, vivid writing.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Wein balances the horrors of war against genuine heroics, delivering a well-researched and expertly crafted adventure. Ages 14–up.

Reader Reviews
Rose

Code Name Verity
When first I started to reading the book, it wasn't that interesting and I didn't understand the story. But now its kind of interesting. (under 25)

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The Invention of the Ballpoint Pen

It's called an Eterpen, a truly wonderful thing, no messy ink to refill and it dries instantly. He said they have ordered 30,000 of them for the RAF to use in the air (for navigation calculations) and a grateful RAF officer recently smuggled out of France had given one of the samples to Peter, who'd given it to the sergeant, who gave it to Maddie. ...Maddie was ridiculously pleased with her pen.

Laszlo BiroThe gift that Maddie was so pleased to receive was, of course, the new and exciting ballpoint pen. László Bíró invented the first commercially viable ballpoint pen in 1938. Other attempts had been made before, but with little success because of issues with the viscosity of the ink and the need to rely on gravity...

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