Tuesday 9 July 2013

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Reviewed by Jackie Marchant

It’s the Second World War and a young SOE agent is about to make a written confession to the Gestapo, because she can’t bear the thought of another interrogation by SS-Hauptsturmfurher von Linden.  She has two weeks and then they will shoot her, but that is preferable to her fate if she does not confess.  She calls herself a coward.
But read on and you will see that she is anything but.  She is brave and clever in equal measure, running rings round her captors despite her predicament.  She uses her long confession as a tribute to her best friend Maddie, who lost her life trying to land the plane that secretly brought her to France.   At the same time, she manages to riddle her confession with code that will ensure that her mission will not fail.  She even works out a way to get her notes out there.
This book is about a strong female friendship, it is about plucky young women and their determined war effort and it is about triumph in the most difficult of circumstances.  It is both happy and sad,  with two strong main characters that have you cheering and crying in equal measure.  The scenes of cruelty at the hands of the Gestapo are handled with such sensitivity that the full horror comes over without the need for any graphic detail.  The relationship between Linden and Verity is so well drawn as Verity manages to creep under his skin and turn the tables on him, that you almost feel sorry for him.  Almost.   
Then there is betrayal, danger and plenty of action, as the resistance try and carry out their task without their key player.   All this makes Code Name Verity a book that will engage right from start to finish, quite deservedly earning its place on the Carnegie shortlist.   



Ann Turnbull said...

I agree - this is a wonderful book. Congratulations, Jackie, on managing to review it so well without giving too much away!

Lydia Syson said...

I agree - not easy!

Sue Purkiss said...

I hadn't come across this, but it sounds great. Thanks, Jackie!

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