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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I'm an audiobook junkie, and proud.
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.
Dept Q, Harry Hole... where are you?
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.
"Brilliant - I was spellbound!"
Not my usual genre but this book is excellent - compelling, harrowing, charming - the sort of book you think about between reads and can't wait to get back to. Has left a lingering impression and I find my thoughts ebbing back to think about the book. Should I confess that I cried as well!?! But not a soppy book - a brave, female-focused, strong and yet devastating book.
I loved the Scottish accent of the first narrator. The second narrator was good, but not as interesting. Still, very difficult to pause/put down. Also loved the random references to knitting!
A very good story that keeps you gripped throughout. The structure is well thought out and the characters and their situation thoroughly believable.
"Brilliantly written, brilliantly read."
I have not read the print version as I prefer, these days, to listen to my books. I am, sadly, too busy to read but I can listen to audio books even when my hands are busy.
I have no comparison
I couldn't choose a favourite as both of the lead female characters were shown as strong, capable and very brave women as, I am sure, were a lot of women at that time in history.
It is impossible for me to do that so wouldn't even consider it. It is one of the reasons that I prefer audio books these days as I can listen to the story almost like a serial and always look forward to the time that I can start up my story again.
I love the way the author comments on her reasons and thinking behind certain names, events and places in the book, at the end of the story. I feel that she shows in her writing how in tune she is with that period of time and with the very brave women who are forever unsung.
loved the story and the twist that I didn't see coming. suspension of disbelief was fantastic and the characters were deeply painted and we'll rounded.
Not for a while as the plot twists are so good that remembering them would spoil the story
The ambush at the bridge and it's outcome.
It made me laugh and cry it is a very cleverly told tale and heart-rending.
I loved this book and will be recommending it to my GCSE English student tutee.
"Feels like a news report."
When I listened to this, the freshness and immediacy of it made it seem like an urgent news report. The switching between voices had me concentrating hard and brought reality to the book. It was hard to place it in time as it seemed to be happening now, not in the past. The best bit was the feeling of an ambiguous ending, too hard to guess how it might end, so I hated being interrupted and loved listening on my own. The narrators gave it a clean, modern feel and character, despite it nearly being a period piece. Well worth a second listen.
I have no problem recommending this book. I bought it to listen to on my drive to Paris.
The story was gripping, I didn't want to stop on my journey! The reading was superb by both readers.
I can't say that I can compare it to any other book I have read in this genre, most can be pretty boring set in the period, but right from the beginning it had me hooked.
They were both superb, I wasn't sure if I detected an American accent to start with, but
I soon forgot that! No Favouite
Of course, but that would give it away!
Make sure this is your next purchase!
Yes - the story is beautifully written and narrated. It tugs at the heart strings and, despite the authors note at the end , is totally believable.
The moment when you realise the purpose of the 'story' by Verity. Without giving it away!
Both performances were brilliant.
Yes if I could have listened to it in one go I would have.
Definitely worth a listen.
"Vividly imagined and beautifully written"
It was a gripping story told in voices that were always convincing
I thought it stood alone though many other books have been written about the lives of undercover agents, for example Charlotte Gray, but this was told from a very different, personal perspective
No but I would like to
It made me smile and feel sad and shocked in equal parts
I love the way the narrative was told by the two protagonists. The structure was quite challenging with first person narrative turning into third person story-telling in the first part but it worked very well. Gut wrenching and moving. Excellent researched and beautifully written.
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