Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Elizabeth Wein is one of my favorite authors and I was thrilled when I discovered that she’s releasing a new book this year, even if it’s not one of her Aksumite books. Code Name Verity is one of my most anticipated 2012 titles. It’s already available from the Book Depository and will be released in the US in May. Before I started reading this, I was warned by the author herself to have a box of tissues within reach. I’m usually not a fan of war novels but since I will read anything that EWein writes, I decided to steel myself and just plunge right into it.

Here’s the summary from Elizabeth Wein’s website:

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. They’ll get the truth out of her. But it won’t be what they expect.

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, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from a merciless and ruthless enemy?

You know that warning about having tissues on hand? Remember that when you read this. Code Name Verity is a wonderful, heartbreaking and riveting story about the friendship between two girls – “Verity” and Maddie. Take a look at that premise and you’d have an idea of why tissues will be needed. There’s a pivotal scene in the latter half of the book that had me in tears and I couldn’t stop crying until I reached the end. By the time you’re through with this book, your heart will ache for both characters and you’d want to squeeze yourself into the story just so you can hug them. I love Verity, she’s such a vibrant and sophisticated character, you can’t help but like her even when she’s clearly out of her element. She makes the best out of the situation and manages to amuse the reader with her anecdotes, enough to lighten the bleak situation. Maddie is also an interesting character – passionate about tinkering with engines and flying planes, she’s very different from her friend. They probably wouldn’t have met if not for the war, but they work well together and they make a sensational team. I love that the focus of the story is the strong sisterly bond between Verity and Maddie, which is unusual nowadays when most YA novels feature romances. YAY for girlfriends! I know next to nothing about World War II, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) or flying airplanes, but that didn’t matter. I was wholly invested in Verity and Maddie’s story even if I didn’t understand all of the details.

I knew the writing would be clever, it is an EWein novel, after all. But Code Name Verity still managed to surprise me. I want to go on and on about how much I loved this novel but I’m afraid to reveal too much because the less you know about the book before you pick it up, the better the reading experience. If you trust my recommendations and feel like we have similar tastes in books, I urge you to read Code Name Verity. Let me know when you’re done so we can discuss all the spoilery details in private. If you’re a fan of historical fiction or spy stories, then this book is right up your alley. It’s the best book that I’ve read so far in 2012 and will be included in my list of favorites for this year. I would love to reread Code Name Verity but even knowing the events that will unfold, I think my heart needs to recover first. It’s not an easy read but definitely worth the effort. It’s the kind of novel that can make you feel. I have high hopes for this book because I want more readers to discover how amazing EWein is – her books really deserve to get more attention.

If you’re still hesitant about reading this book, check out this beautiful trailer:

I just found out about this but it looks like there’s going to be a Code Name Verity blog tour so be sure to drop by these blogs and see what they have to say about the book:

Also, check out these beautiful Verity and Maddie dolls that EWein’s friend Amanda made for her. I love how detailed their clothes and things are.

67 thoughts on “Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

  1. oh please, am I going to be the first to comment? how embarrassing! But I wanted to say that I am thinking of setting up a Goodreads or Yahoo discussion group or something that is essentially “CNV: All Spoilers, All the Time” so that people who have read it can actually discourse intelligently about it. I am *amazed* (and delighted) at how consistent the online reviewers have been about not revealing Verity’s NAME, for example, or the REAL narrative structure of the book.

    I thought I’d wait, though, before doing it – seems a little premature since the book technically hasn’t been released yet, and I want to KEEP MY OAR OUT. (hahaha)

    Thanks so much for the great review. And thanks for including me in Queen’s Thief Week, as well – it was *wonderful* sharing MWT love with her fans, other writers, and of course the woman herself!

    • Why is that embarrassing? I think it’s great! A Goodreads discussion group for CNV is a wonderful idea, we can make use of the spoiler tags over there. I have a feeling every comment I’ll make will be tagged as spoilery. I had no choice, I had to write a spoiler-free review because I wanted people to read it so I can convince them to read the book. 🙂

      Well, the book has been released in the US and they’re starting to give out ARCs in the US so maybe it’s not too early to start that group? Thank you so much for sending me an electronic copy! My Book Depository copy has been dispatched but I have no idea when it will get here so it makes me happy that I got to read this a few weeks early. Thanks again for participating in Queen’s Thief Week, I was actually reading CNV during that week. 🙂 I wanted to post my review while your guest post is still fresh in minds of the blog readers. Looking forward to seeing the posts for the blog tour!

  2. I love our lovely narrator so much. So much. I want to hug her, and give her a whiskey and a blanket.

    I am not sure she is ever out of her element. But I also think that statement might be the sort of thing that is exactly why we need somewhere to chat about the book without worrying about spoilers.

    • Alexa, glad you find it intriguing even though it’s not what you usually read! The book will be released in the US this May but I’m already seeing ARCs around the blogosphere.

  3. Wahoo, they even organised a blog tour and the Booksmugglers are part of it ^^. From what I remember CNV is a lauch title for the Electric Monkey imprint so it makes sense the publisher has faith in the doing a bit more publicity on the book ^^.

    • I was searching for other reviews that I could link to when I found out about the blog tour. Can’t wait to see the posts for that. It is a launch title for Electric Monkey so it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of publicity for it. Even the US publisher is already promoting the book through ARCs, yay!

    • What about the book trailer, did you love it too? 😛 Wow, I usually stay away from war books because I feel like they’re emotionally difficult reads but you’re a fan. You’re going to love Code Name Verity then.

  4. la la la I want it la la but I have so many books to read la la it is so easy to order from the Book Depository la.

    But I think I want a hardcover. Which seems to mean waiting.

  5. I just finished this book, the majority of it in one sitting (couldn’t bear to put it down) and it is utterly AMAZING. I feel like my heart has been torn out and stomped on a million times, and yet I want to go back to the beginning and read it all over again. The characters are so real and the details are so rich, it feels true in every sense of the word. Just wow.

    • R.J., I agree, it is AMAZING. Yes to everything else that you said, it’s an emotional read and EWein just blows you away with how rich and clever the writing is. I love how the details were revealed in the second half of the story, absolutely brilliant. I’ll probably reread this (or at the very least, skim through the pages) once I finally have my copy from the Book Depository.

    • Stomping on one’s heart – that’s a very good image for the effect *nod*. That’s why I like writers, they’re so eloquent ^^. Just like your Knife – with the gorgeous Brian Froud cover.

    • You got an eARC, yay! I hope you get to read it soon. 🙂 You are aware that by letting me know that you have a copy means I’ll be bugging you to bump it up the TBR pile, right?

  6. I first heard of Code Name Verity shortly after devouring Connie Willis’s Blackout/All Clear. Those books did more than any other bit of media I have consumed to teach me about what life was like during WWII in Britain, and so of course I was immediately excited to see Code Name Verity even though I’ll shamefully admit I haven’t read any EWein yet. I cannot wait to read more about that setting and time period, even if it doesn’t contain time travel. 😛

    I do have an ARC on hand I want to get to soon, but I’ll probably end up picking up the finished copy as well. Thanks for the enthusiastic review, Chachic!

    • Heidi, you have an ARC of this? Please read it as soon as you can! And then come back here and let me know so we can talk about it. EWein’s books need to get more readers. I haven’t read anything by Connie Willis but I do have a copy of To Say Nothing of the Dog. I’ve heard good things about Blackout too so I’ll probably grab a copy of that if I end up enjoying To Say Nothing of the Dog.

      • Will do! I’ve been very excited about this one. I was one of the lucky ones who got approved from NetGalley because I’m a librarian even after they decided to no longer approve bloggers. Blackout was awesome, I haven’t read To Say Nothing of the Dog yet, but they do take place in the same universe, so I plan to.

      • Lucky indeed! I got rejected when I requested for it in NetGalley. 😦 Oh I didn’t know that Connie Willis’ books occur in the same universe. Will definitely let you know what I think once I’ve read To Say Nothing of the Dog.

  7. Wow, this sounds fabulous. The best book you’ve read thus far? That’s quite the endorsement! Sometimes I’m in the mood for an emotional read. (I guess that is a statement of the obvious–everyone is in that kind of mood every once in a while)

    And to the both of you above, I love Connie Willis! Chachic, she’s written loads of short novellas and short stories that are so easy to plow through as well if you want to give her a try.

    • Flannery, well, maybe that’s not saying much because I’ve only read a couple of books this year? But Code Name Verity will definitely be included in my best of 2012 list. I know what you mean, I like emotional readers too but I feel like I have to prepare for them.

      Hmm I’m not much of a short story reader, I always have a hard time finishing anthologies but I’ll try Connie Willis’ work after I finish reading To Say Nothing of the Dog.

  8. Wow, that is high praise. I can’t wait to read this. (Janice, where can I get an eARC?) Chachic, can you tell me if there is much about the Holocaust in it?

    • So glad you’re dying to read this! Can’t wait to see what you’ll think of it. It’s available in Book Depository if you’re interested in grabbing a copy. 😛

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  12. Just read it here in the US – and have promptly ordered a copy from the UK (I love complete sets of books I adore), a copy for my library, and another copy for my personal library.

    I’ll admit, I love the emotional read, so I knew this was going to be up my alley when I read the summary, but I was worried because this is an area of history I know a LOT about, and historical inaccuracies will throw me out of a narrative so fast . . . but EWein is effing brilliant. I mean, the story is brilliant, the words are brilliant, the way the story is told is brilliant, the research is extraordinary and Maddie and Queenie are two of my favorites ever. There is so much about this story that I can’t get over, but luckily, I will have the opportunity to read it again and again! Let’s get the word out – this is definitely the best thing I have read this year so far, and like I said, my standard for historical fiction is ridiculously high, especially French WWII stuff.

    (so much detail! so many tiny things that make it all SO REAL. my heart can’t take it. It’s full of joy and love and bereft at the same time. Oh, Verity! Oh, Maddie! OH FLY THE PLANE MADDIE.)

    • Yes to spreading the word about EWein’s books! I agree, she really is brilliant. I don’t know much about WWII and flying planes, I still loved reading about Maddie, Verity and their beautiful friendship. So glad you loved CNV as well, always nice to meet fellow fans of one of my favorite authors. I hope you’re planning to read the rest of her books? 🙂

  13. This is my first Elizabeth Wein book, but it certainly won’t be my last. I loved this book, so much so that I simply *had* to order a copy for the library where I work 🙂 And I think maybe I’ll go do some ordering of her older titles too when I get a chance.

    • Yay, I think it’s great that you ordered a copy for your library! Yes to encouraging more people to read Code Name Verity. And I really hope you get to order her older titles as well (some of them are sadly out of print though).

      • Unfortunately none of her older books seem to be available through any of her suppliers so I can’t buy them at work 😦 I’ll have to see about getting them second hand or summat for myself though.

      • Sad that they’re not available! 😦 Hope you find affordable copies though. I got my of The Winter Prince from a used bookstore but I’m planning to get a better copy because it’s really old.

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  15. just waving to the new people joining this discussion (fence, alaska). I am SO. DELIGHTED. at how much you are enjoying this book. Thanks for the wonderful support!

    • Thanks for dropping by again to comment! I love hearing people say they loved this book so much that they ordered copies for their libraries. 😀 So happy that Code Name Verity has been getting the attention it deserves.

  16. Waves back 🙂
    Your book deserves the support. I just wish I could support you more by buying your other books, but they seem to be out of print over here, so I’ll have to get used copies instead.

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