Q&D Book Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This book enthralled me from the opening words: I AM A COWARD.

Split into two sections, this book is told by two best friends, girls that would have most likely never met, much less been friends, if it hadn’t been for the war. Maddie is the mechanically minded one who, by a series of lucky circumstances, not only learns how to fly planes but is very skilled at it. Queenie is the wealthy girl with the Swiss boarding school upbringing who speaks three languages and is very adept at getting the information she wants.

From the beginning, we know that Queenie has been captured by the Gestapo in France. She has chosen to give up information instead of being tortured like the two French Resistance prisoners she hears screaming every day in their hotel/prison. Given two weeks to tell all, she writes an engaging story about a woman’s place in the war, the excitement of belonging to a cause and a friendship that will defy the odds, all while suffering at the hands of her captors. Maddie’s tale is about how she gets the exciting job of ferrying around damaged planes and delivering people to their destinations. Her modesty regarding her abilities is most likely what propels her forward to bigger and better assignments and, ultimately, the one that defines her career. Will it be a medal or court-martial for her?

What a fabulous book. Made up of equal parts Nancy Drew, Girl Scout and Steve McQueen, these girls show just how much they took on, and how much they were capable of doing, during the war while the men were away. And while they weren’t “supposed” to do certain things, like fly near the front or leave England or spy, they did these things and did them well.

I am hesitant to say too much about the bulk of the book because the story is wound together so intricately that I would hate to give away anything. Like the often spoken of onion, the layers run deep and are many. Suffice it to say that if you are a fan of intrigue, war and strong females (what’s the more mature version of “plucky?”) you will not be disappointed.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein was published May 15, 2012 by Disney Hyperion. Ink and Page picked this book up from the library, so no one had a choice about whether it was reviewed.

Rating: 4.5

Genre: Young Adult Fiction Historical Spy Thriller
Ages: 12 and up
You Might Want to Know: Descriptions of torture and death

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