I am a coward
I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was.
Elizabeth Wein presents a mind game, wrapped in a conundrum, disguised as simply-written YA fiction in Code Name Verity. Set in the throes of the Second World War, this historical-realist novel/thriller is superbly constructed and the narrative is layered to perfection.
Code Name Verity is divided into two narrative voices. Two strong female protagonists involved in a single event which results in two, very different, situations – one a prisoner of the Nazis in occupied France, the other hidden under the protection of the French Resistance. Both fighting to escape and both fighting for Britain.
Wein creates a novel centred on female strength, unity and power. ‘Verity’ and Maddie are beautiful characters in their own right, both feisty yet feminine, and you can’t help but fall in love with these two amazing characters who both work in dangerous, male-dominated environments. Their friendship is born of circumstance – they would never have met outside of the war effort – and yet the relationship between them is genuine and exceptionally strong.
There is a whisper of romantic interest along the way but what is so refreshing about Code Name Verity is Wein’s sole focus being pretty much in the development of the story and the two female protagonists – both different in their backgrounds, mannerisms and outlooks but bound together through their positions in war-time society.
I must admit that this novel did take me a while to get into. As soon as you open the cover you are thrown into ‘Verity’’s situation, totally blind to what’s going on and why and this can be a tad disorientating. As the story unfolds, you gain your bearings, become engrossed in the writing and hang onto every twist and turn of the plot (and there are quite a few!)
Wein is an exceptionally clever author, skilled in the art of showing not telling thereby forcing her audience to pick up clues in order to find truth and interpret meaning. Code Name Verity is storytelling at its best, a gripping novel that builds momentum with every page and slowly reveals its secrets. A code worth cracking open!