I am an avid eclectic reader.
When I saw this book on audible and read the reviews I had a picture in my mind of a woman piolet and a women wireless operator working together such as the piolet passing information to the operator while flying over dangerous area. Boy, was I wrong. Elizabeth Wein tells the story in a unique way and the use of two narrators was great. Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell really made the story work. The story grabbed me right away and kept my attention throughout. I was absorbed right into the story and felt I was there with them and part of the story. It takes a great author to do that to a reader. I found the comments by the author at the end of the book very interesting. She took real situation and placed her story heroines (which she made them a composite of real people) into a similar made up story making this a novel. Lady Julia was a polished, educated Scot aristocrats and I felt Mattie, the English girl piolet was someone just like me. I am sure other readers may feel this reversed. This is one of the best spy stories I have read it some time. There is humor, suspense, action, wrapped in a fascinating story.
IF you've wondered about this book, thought about purchasing it when Audible highlighted it a month ago...just do it. *Like a girl*, like a boy, like a YA or an OF, just download it and prepare yourself for a fantastic read, a brilliant experience; but, one you may have to, may want to, take twice. Even those savvy readers who can follow a twisting plot like a hungry cat on a mouse are going to be tossed in a special way. That's why all these reviews let you know right off that they can't tell you a thing (except you'll probably need a tissue.)
[Did you see the movie "The Usual Suspects;" do you remember the shocking end where everything you thought you knew was turned on its head? When Keyser Söze straightens his limp and walks erectly across the street, letting you know that everything was hiding in plain sight all along? And you watched the whole movie again just to shake your head and see it in a new light? That's this experience.] We can't tell you more or we'd have to kill you...
The book is constructed so cleverly with such elegance that you won't see the end coming, though it was always there over you like a sledge hammer. And when it hits you, and it will, you'll realize the force of the story and the talent of this author. You'll realize this is a more fiendishly complex and riveting story than you already thought it was.
A piece of historical fiction that is an espionage thriller, impressively capable of standing up to even the most sophisticated of the genre, not just limited to YA, although none of them could match the heart of this adventure. The themes of courage and friendship are both heartbreaking and uplifting, and the basis of the story, but the history is remarkable. By describing the air raids, the tensions felt by the civilians, and finally the torture endured by the captured spy, Wein brings the terror of war to life. [Imagine how terrifying: Captured by an SS officer for something so simple as looking the wrong way before crossing the street...she looked left, like the British, instead of right, like the French.] Hiding behind the narrator's allusions to J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan,” Kipling's "Kim," Shakespeare, and other literary works, the daily horrors take on a fairytale-like quality that add to the overall masquerade. These two great characters/narrators will grab your heart and burrow in, so make room. I want to see the movie; make T-shirts with their names emblazoned on the front; join their fan clubs.
Yea for the girls...I love that the contribution of females is portrayed so wonderfully by this book. These two friends have all the power, bravery, and loyalty of the females in The Hunger Games or Divergent, etc., but these are human characters created from history, not from fantasy or science fiction. The similar acts of bravery during WWII and other wars are well documented. Women weren't only helpful Rosie the Riveters -- they were soldiers, spies, pilots; they fought, they were tortured and they died.
My little sis reads for a living; over all YA and Children's books for libraries in another state. When Code Name Verity was published, she told me it was great, the new favorite of her Young Writers Group, which is comprised of people ages 14-23. She also told me she thought I'd like it. So, I purchased this in 2013 per her recommendation, foolishly put it in my TBR file thinking YA would be good, but not big-girl good...stupid mistake. I read a couple hundred books between downloading this and finally listening. Code Name Verity is one of the most impressive.
And, the narration...I'm so surprised the book hasn't been nominated for an award for the narration. It was outstanding. A Scottish brogue, French, German, English -- every accent spot on, clear, and animated. They both give spectacular performances.
Just fantastic in everyway. I hope this helps you decide if this is a book you'd enjoy.
Wine, food and travel writer, editor, and aspiring novelist.
I give Elizabeth Wein high marks for writing a compelling story, and the narrators are superb, but it's hard to give credence to the conceit of a confession written in literary style. There is another incredibly illogical action that I can't divulge without spoiling the book for other readers. But it makes no sense and that absolutely ruined the book for me.
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (historical fiction) - Code Name Verity is the story of two young women who each play a very important role in thwarting Hitler's advances in Europe. The first half is told by Verity, a radio operator who later becomes a spy. She is also referred to as Queenie, Ava Siler, First Officer Beaufort-Stewart and Julie, which can be a little confusing. She becomes a prisoner of war and is tortured into writing a confession, so her story alternates between her life in prison and flashbacks to events as they actually happened. (Her torture wouldn't have been a picnic, but I'm pretty squeamish and it didn't bother me to hear it.)
Maddy's story is approximately the last half of the book. She is a pilot who flies secret missions and is the one who flew Verity to Nazi-occupied France. Her story dovetails with and goes beyond Verity's.
I almost stopped listening several hours into the book because it seemed to be just the story of young women becoming best friends during the war, but as the secret missions started, etc., it got VERY interesting and intense.
PERFORMANCE - There are two young female narrators. Verity sounds Scottish and Maddy sounds more British, in keeping with their characters. There's also singing and a short performance by a male narrator. Everything is well-done.
OVERALL - (Actual rating 3.5) Very exciting book after the slow start. Since it occurs during World War II, there are mature themes. Guys won't like the female bonding part of the story but will enjoy the covert activities and historical background.
Addicted to Audible!
I listened to half this book, got confused, because I wasn't really paying attention and had to go back and start over. I am glad that I did or I would have missed a gem. This book was well written, great details and the author did not stereotype her characters, they were all multidimensional. It was hard to believe that the story was fiction. I liked the fact that 2 narrators were used, rather than one changing her accent, it made it less confusing. It's definately worth your time and credit
* Hated it! **Endured it, hoping it would redeem itself; *** Okay; **** Great listen! ***** Outstanding! I'll be listening to it again!
I spent my formative years soaking up every book I could find about WWII (both fiction and non-fiction), so I knew all about Allied spies, secret Lysander flights into France and other occupied territories, the French Resistance, and the Gestapo’s response to these activities, so I thought I knew what to expect from this book.
My initial reaction was that of disappointment. I’d made the selection based on overall reader ratings and had not read the detailed reviews; had I done so, I would have prepared me for how the book unfolds. The first half of the book is a narrative by a captured female spy, codename Verity. She tells of her relationship to her friend Maddie, a skilled pilot who ultimately ends up flying her into France, and details her treatment by her French and German guards and Gestapo interrogators.
If you’re squeamish and worried about hearing about the sadistic techniques uses by Gestapo torturers, you need have no fear because Elizabeth Wein uses such a light touch that Verity’s plight just does not ring true and I was ready to rate this as a three-star listen.
Halfway through the book, Maddie takes over as narrator, telling the same story from her perspective. That sounds like a bad plot gimmick, but one quickly realizes that not all is at it seems and forces one to rethink everything one has heard from Verity’s hand and mouth. Ultimately, I had to find a quiet corner and listen to this book through to the end – it’s that compelling of a tale, and cleverly written despite my initial misgivings.
The two narrators both do an outstanding job (Verity and Maddie have their own distinct and authentic voices) – full marks to both of them for bringing their characters alive.
Give it a listen – you won’t regret it.
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This book has gotten much, much love from bloggers and Young Adult aficionados in general. Because girls! In World War II! And it's kind of a little bit dark with Nazis, toned down to YA levels.
Code Name Verity is a girls' adventure story about a pilot and a secret agent, both based in historical reality though the author admits in her afterword that she took a bit of fictional license to allow her young female pilot to fly a plane into occupied France.
As the book begins, Julie, the secret agent half of this best friends duo, is writing a confession to her German captors. She got caught as an enemy spy when she looked the wrong way crossing a street in France, and now she's in the hands of the SS. The first half of the book is her story. She is Scheherazade, trying to prolong her life by giving away secrets and playing mind-games with her captors, games she can't possibly win.
Then comes the second half, which is Maddie's tale, Maddie being the working class girl who became a pilot, who crashed in France, and now works with the French Resistance. She learns of Julie's capture and want to free her. Of course.
Much has been made in reviews of the "shocking twist," which I shall not spoil, but let's just say it is dramatic and moving but not wholly unexpected and certainly not as wrenching for adult readers who have read war stories before. Likewise, the horrors of the Nazi occupation are described, but the author spares the reader the worst.
This isn't a flaw in the book per se — not every war story has to be gory and brutal to excess, but I was constantly reminded that this was a YA novel meant to stir an emotional response. The focus is on Julie and Maddie's friendship and we are treated to long internal monologues regarding everything that passes through their heads.
The story was good and so was the writing, but despite the cleverness of an unreliable narrator, it seemed to be written to appeal to a different sort of reader. Code Name Verity tries very hard to yank your heartstrings and make you shiver with dread at appropriate times. For a teenage girl, this is maybe a near-perfect book. For me, merely decent.
I haven't read the print version, but listening made the story very immediate -- and the narrators' voices made the point of view completely clear.
I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't read the book, but there were several points in the story that moved me to tears, or shocked me breathless. The author creates a vivid picture of WW II, and it was particularly neat to get a war story from two women's points of view -- and from women who weren't sitting on the sidelines, either!
Don't miss the Bino Phillips series by AW Gray. They are largely unknown, but as good as any ive read!
How can a WWII spy novel be unique? Ive read the best of them including the entire works of Higgins, Follett, Greg Ilse wrote a great one, Forsythe too. So I was skeptical and even a bit weary of the subject matter even though its been several years since i read a WWII novel. Cynthia's review tipped me this might be special, and i am so grateful it did.
For some of us, there are times in our lives when we experience a special relationship where the synergy of both personalties, self esteem, intelligence, ingenuity and drive creates something greater than the relationship itself. Ive seen and experienced it in sales, several friendships and in marriage. This is the story of two remarkable young British women who meet and work together just before the beginning of WWII. Individuallly they are smart and resourceful, though each is exceptional in different ways. They become best friends, but their relationship results in a much larger, more deadly force for Brittain against the Nazis.
The narration is eloquent. The narrative is sharp and funny.
This is a remarkable accomplishment.
Father,Husband,Photographer,Book Fiend. 1st Audiobook was 1776 byDavid McCullough;listened while putting up Xmas lights in snowstorm-Hooked!
This sat on my wish list until it wound up on the Daily Deal special....but it was well worth a credit. Loved this book. And I actually had tears in my eyes when the story came to a close, which has only happened one other time. Heroism, danger, strong female leads telling a crucially important story about a critical time in WW II- just a fantastic novel!