Code Name Verity is a compelling, emotionally rich story with universal themes of friendship and loyalty, heroism and bravery. Two young women from totally different backgrounds are thrown together during World War II: one a working-class girl from Manchester, the other a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a wireless operator. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted friends. But then a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France. She is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in Verity's own words, as she writes her account for her captors.
©2012 Elizabeth Gatland (P)2012 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
Other reviewers have outlined the plot, the story and what the reader/listener can expect to happen in this book. So I'll take a moment to say that I found this book to be one of those special novels that gets under your skin and stays with you. The two main characters, these best friends have such a special bond in a time in our history in a part of the world where atrocities were taking place daily. In spite of (or perhaps because of ?) these women were especially kind and brave and full of honor and grace. Imagine if we all could aspire to be such caring special human beings in the face of such horror. Bravo Ms. Wein. And equally special, the narrators brought these amazing characters to life just perfectly. This is a wonderful special book. A must listen.
The complexity of the spy puzzle was the most appealing aspect of the story's plot for me. It required some careful listening, since clues are casually dropped throughout the book.
In most ways, this story is unique, revealing pieces of history that were unknown to me. But if pressed, I might compare it to Aidan Chambers's Postcards from No Man's Land. This also takes place during World War II, with two stories that run parallel and gradually come together, at least thematically. Another complex, multi-narrator tale set in World War II era England is Connie Willis's Blackout, and its conclusion, All Clear.
Morven Christie is absolutely stellar in her part of the narration. She moves easily through the accents and languages of Scotland, England, France, and Germany. There is all the panache and bravado that one would expect of her character.
Verity, the ultimate changeling, is such a powerful character that she is present in every scene, even by her absence. One of the main appeals of her story is ferreting out the truth in what she describes. Maddie's narration is but a satellite of Verity's gripping tale.
Believe me when I say, you do not want to read about this book before you actually listen to it. There is absolutely no way to write a review without giving away spoilers..no way at all! All I will say is that it is a poignant story of friendship and survival by turns funny, sad and scary. It is wonderfully written and narrated and it will stay with you long after you have finished listening. In fact, I can almost guarantee it is a book you will listen to a second time.
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.
It is one of my very favorite, both narrators are fantastic and the storytelling is great. The way the story unravels and the two parts fit together is makes it very interesting. I stayed up late and woke up early to finish it.
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, because it is a story of WW2 told differently, more of a character study, and despite the tragic conditions there is humor and warmth.
I love the stories of Maddie & Julia's developing friendship, when they ride bikes into the countryside, and their adventures at the airbase before their mission.
The name is perfect!
While this is classified as a YA novel, as an adult I loved it. I highly recommend it!
Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
I wish I had something really original to add to the reviews of Code Name Verity that would compel people to read this really original and enthralling book immediately, but the best I can do is wholeheartedly concur with the majority.
Yes, this book does have a bit of a slow start, but stick with it and you will be amply rewarded with a terrific reading experience. Like others, I also can't recount anything beyond bare bone details of the plot without giving away spoilers, which in this case really would spoil your terrific reading experience. Two girls join the war effort in World War II Britain, and during a mission, their plane crashes over Nazi-occupied France. One of the girls (let's call her The Spy) is captured, and through her written confession of everything she knows about the British War Effort, she tells the story of her friendship with Maddie, The Pilot. That is simple enough, but Code Name Verity is so much more. Wein's plotting ability is unsurpassed, but she combines this with amazingly beautiful writing. There is a scene where one of the narrators is describing the green flash (read the book and you'll understand!) that painted a particularly resplendent picture for me. Wein also manages to create vivid characters that I really cared about. Her extraordinary ability to write characters extends to knowing how to write the Nazi antagonists so they are not overdrawn caricatures. Since this is historical fiction, I was convinced that The Pilot and The Spy were based on real people. Wein does an author's debriefing at the end of the book that further explains and adds to the story.
There are several small, possibly implausible plot points which may require the reader to suspend belief a bit, but the rest of the book is so good that any suspension of belief you have to do is easy and worthwhile. This is a place where I really wish I could award half stars on Audible, as Code Name Verity is a solid 4.5 stars.
I have never before finished a book and immediately started a reread, but I've been compelled to with this book. My first read was as an audiobook, but I've just purchased the Kindle version and will be reading Code Name Verity a second time this afternoon. I know I'll be rewarded both intellectually and emotionally, and I hope other readers will reward themselves by reading this excellent book.
Say something about yourself!
This book was a step out of my comfort zone, not something I would have picked up on my own. I was prompted to listen to Code Name Verity by an online book club, and I am glad I did.
Pay attention during this book, there are so many small details you will miss that come back later if you don't listen. I think if I were to listen to it again I would find so many things I missed the first time around.
My husband did not expect to like this book, nor did I to be honest, but we were both wrong. The book was only rated by 16 people when I picked it up, so while the reviews were very good I still had my reservations. It held both our attentions and the little details that were part of the parallel story were like hidden Easter eggs in the book to be found.
As a side note: You may need tissues.
This novel is a pleasure to listen to. It is the story of two women of very different backgrounds who become friends in the first four years of WWII (39-43). Wein does as excellent job of evoking the era and providing little details. Did you know that the ball point pen first came into use during WWI ... or why?
Of course, there are wonderful plot twists. And not everything ends happily.
I like my fictional heroines self-possessed. Not those heroines popular in so many series who make the same mistakes over and over, and over yet again. These two women actually learn from their experiences.
The use of two narrators, one for each woman, is a blessing. Each captures in voice the background and upbringing of her assigned character.
I was very disappointed not to find other books by this author available on Audible, nor (with a meaningless exception) other narration work by Ms. Christie.
Well worth your time.
The narrators of this story are pure magic. They brought the characters to life with humor and emotional that brought me into the story and wouldn't let me go. But the plot was not what I was expecting. It changed and developed and shocked me. I love that.
I like that you don't - and can't - really understand everything you're reading/hearing until the second half. It requires careful listening because there are a lot of important details. A few times I missed things that came up later and that frustrated me. But there is so much detail and color and pain and life in here.
I love love loved when the story turned and I realized I had no idea what was going on and now I do and it's amazing!
Oh choosing between them is like saying "What do you like best about chocolate ice-cream? That it's chocolate or that it's ice cream?" Um, what? They go together. Without one you can't understand the other. Literally Verity's account would be confusing and misunderstood without Maddie's, and Maddie wouldn't even matter if Verity's story didn't explain their incredible friendship. They are a team to be taken as a whole. Christie and Gaskell are PERFECT narrators. Their characters are written very differently and they own their parts completely.
I both laughed and cried. I gasped. I sighed. I ached. When a writer can make you feel those things, they own you. And Wein completely owns me forever.
Take your time with this. And don't multitask. I did, and I missed so many things. The twists lack punch it you're not paying attention. I learned my lesson about a third of the way through but I wish I had give this the proper focus it deserves. It's beautifully written and wonderfully performed.
From 4/12/15 on, I will only rate a book 5 stars if it so good I will listen to it again. To date, the Bino series tops that list.
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.
"Great narration of a great story"
A Carnegie medal short listed book. This was a story that kept me intrigued from start to finish with characters that I immediately warmed to. The two narrators added to the story.
Thank heavens this wasn't longer as I listened to it in one go and stayed up very late!
A beautifully written story of friendship at a time of adversity.
The actual story is gripping, confusing and inspiring.
One of those books which is a novel, but has been based on events if not individuals. Maddie and Queenie are enchanting characters who you only wish you could have met.
I remember many years ago speaking to a lady who had been in the S.O.E. in France, who still would not talk about what she had done, because of The Official Secrets Act and Queenie reminded me so much of her. Quiet people who did an incredibly dangerous job, and whose main concern was that they put others at risk.
This version is beautifully told with two voices to mark the divide.
Well worth a listen.
"I adored it!"
Oh yes, I have done and will. I will also recommend they try and get the audio version, as I think the narrators performance elevated the book to a higher level, and I did wonder if I would think it was as exceptional if I had just read it the traditional way. Why would I recommend it? Well because it's better than most books. It doesn't fall into the good while you are reading it, but forgettable category or an entertaining enough diversion, it is simply a great book. And great books are few and far between.
The two girls; their differences, their bravery and their love for each other. They were splendid.
I suppose I liked Julie best, but didn't get to know her very well under the circumstances. Maddie was lovely though, and heartbreaking and warm and brave.
oh God, yes. Both. And terribly sad...
I envy people who haven't read this as they get the chance to experience it for the first time.
"Best audiobook I've ever bought"
Absorbing, challenging, different
Blackout & All Clear - the same excellent storytelling and strong female characters.
That would give the plot away, but I can say, when the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.
Both - but mostly cry as it's quite a harrowing story
The narrator was fantastic - really captured the different characters extremely well. It's very unusual to have a story with so many female characters that doesn't lose it's way having them focus of men - none of that here. The writer captures their characters in a rounded way and concentrates on the events that move the plot forward. Amazing book - one of those you think about when it's finished.
Absorbing, "page-turner", Intrigue.
Oh yes! I just could not stop listening!
Initially I couldnt see where it was going. I was tasked to read/listen to it, so I was determined to keep going with it. Then the intrigue got me and I just could not stop listening! I loved it. I certainly did not see the twist coming and when they started, they continued until the end of the book. Fantastic book! I will definitely be seeking more from this author and more from the readers. The performances were superb! 10/10!
I defy anyone to not shed a tear at the end. The book is full of humour, emotion and historical interest. A truly heart warming read.
"Such an amazing story; heart warming and wrenching"
This is one of the most gripping audiobooks I've listened to so far. I'd look forward to my walk to and from work, just to find out what happens.
If I had the time I could easily have spent hours just listening to this book.
It is just a great but plausible story that encapsulates an era of great risk, terror, heart break and courage but also of friendship, love and trust. There are lots of twists in this story and I loved the detail that went into it. I also enjoyed how it was written in two accounts and how all the threads come together in the end. A beautiful story of friendship and a harrowing account of war.
"A great listen!"
I listened to the audiobook and have to say that it was very well read, with two readers doing the separate sections (there are two narratives, each written by one of the two main characters). It was therefore a very enjoyable listen, and also a rather quick one. The story itself is very engaging. It is aimed at YA readers, but I would say that it no less a novel for adults. It is a historical novel which takes place during the second World War. The novel details the friendship of two young women, one of them a spy and the other a pilot. During a mission to France things go wrong and the spy almost immediately gets apprehended by the Germans. The first half of the novel is her "confession", written out for her interrogator in exchange for more time alive. However, things are not all what they seem here... but I really ought not to give much more away in terms of plot.
There are some fairly graphic descriptions of the methods of torture used by the Gestapo, and other scenes that are similarly shocking. The narrative is rather fast paced and despite the overall horror of the situation that Verity has found herself in, there are moments of humour since she is able - despite her suffering - to crack jokes about her interrogators and herself. There are numerous references to literature, such as Kim by Rudyard Kipling and to the poetry of Robert Burns. Verity is a well read young woman, in addition to her education in a Swiss private school. What I also found interesting about this character is her native background; she is a Scottish aristocrat and a descendant of Mary Queen of Scots and William Wallace (or so she claims - it is implied that perhaps we are not meant to take this at face value). Her Scottish roots are important to the story in some ways, and her insistence on being Scottish, not English, is repeated several times in the narrative. One thing that bothered me, though, is the fact that Verity states that Wallace's execution consisted of him being torn apart by four horses. This is grossly inaccurate, since Wallace was hanged, drawn and quartered (horses were no part of it, except probably to draw the wooden hurdle that Wallace was strapped to and in which he was dragged to the place of execution). As a Scotswoman who is both fiercely patriotic and very much aware of Scotland's troubled and dramatic history, Verity would not make this mistake in reality.
All in all, this is an enjoyable and well written novel, and the story-line is in most parts a convincing one. There are, however, some plot developments for which this reader at least really had to consciously suspend disbelief in order to be able to enjoy the story to the full.
(this review originally published on Goodreads)
"Great read, listen to authors notes"
Wonderful story full of well crafted characters. I laughed out lied and wept big tears.
"THIS. IS. BRILLIANT."
YES. And I have, many times. It''s just one of those books that you feel like you have to read/listen to over and over again until you understand it to the extent.
I can't choose! I have so many favourites, but it possibly might be the "Kiss me Hardy! Kiss me, quick!" scene. It's certainly the most memorable. I think any of the moments with the good quotes are my favourite anyway ("Fly the plane, Maddie", "We make a sensational team" and "It's like falling in love, discovering your best friend" are just a few).
Morven Christie's reading as 'Queenie' was exceptional, I think. It was just like the characters my head, except maybe a bit older. There were moments where you really wouldn't remember that she was being tortured in a Gestapo headquarters, but then she would drop back into the present tense and it was like being hit in the face. Lucy Gaskell's performance was also brilliant. At points, I prefered Christie's Maddie to Gaskell's, but her voice acting did make me sob my heart out at said favourite scene above. As pretending to be twenty-something year olds, I think they did amazingly.
I'm not sure. There are so many incredible one-liners in this book, but perhaps it would be something else.
I LOVE this book. It has ALL the emotions, ALL the feels, it made me laugh, cry and has now shot straight up to 'Favourite Book' spot. Elizabeth Wein, you are INCREDIBLE.
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