Thursday, 10 May 2012

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity is a gripping, cleverly-plotted book that I got a lot out of reading. Set during World War 2 it follows the stories of two women who have crashed a plane into Nazi-occupied France. The first half of the book is supposedly written by Julie, an upper-class Scottish woman and an SOE agent, captured by the Gestapo. She writes in quite a light-hearted manner, which belays the true horror of what is happening to her. This was something I liked about the book - it draws you in slowly, gradually drawing your attention to horrific things that you deep-down already knew but hadn't really dwelt upon. This really ramps up the tension as the plot progresses. The second half of the book is told by Maddie, the pilot of the plane and Julie's best friend, who had been taken in by the French Resistance.
The two main characters are very likeable, I found Julie's Scottish quips a tad irritating, but that is probably because I am English. The author has obviously done her research, there are lots of little accurate details scattered about, and I think the book stands as a good representation of the actions of some extraordinarily brave women (and men) during that time.
My one problem with the book is that I didn't really believe that these were the voices of two women from the 1940s. All my grandparents were on active service during the war and I am a huge fan of British films of the period (I would recommend Pimpernel Smith and Went the Day Well to anyone who enjoyed Code Name Verity), so I suppose I had an expectation of how they would speak, which didn't coincide with the words on the page. I just felt that, despite a smattering of period-accurate slang, Julie and Maddie sounded a bit 21st century. This didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book, however, and I would happily recommend it to anyone age 12 to adult who is interested in the period, or who enjoys thrillers. It is quite harrowing in places, so if you are easily affected by such things I would intersperse it with some lighter reading.

Book: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publisher: Disney Hyperion/Electric Monkey
Score: 7.5/10

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