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Reading Mutiny Challenge: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Publisher: Egmont 
Format: Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:
I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.
I didn't even consider writing a synopsis for Code Name Verity because I'm petrified of dropping spoilers! Although, it would've taken a lot of explaining to truly give anything away because there are so many twists and turns, which is the book's greatest strength. Usually, as you can see from the Goodreads widget on the right, I read two books a week. One YA and something else. I'll read a few chapters of one in the morning or on the train and a few chapters of the other before bed. With Code Name Verity, I read at least half of it in one sitting because I just couldn't put it down. Absolutely brilliant.

The two main characters were refreshingly original. I don't know, maybe because I don't read too much set during WWII, but I haven't come across characters like these two very often. It's quite hard to talk about them without saying their names and giving away what they do. However, even though Elizabeth Wein states at the end that they are fictional, it is easy to imagine a story like this might have occured during WWII. She even mentions a Horrible Histories episode featuring a similar figure who faced a fate not unlike one of the Code Name Verity characters, which I recalled whilst reading too. If you have never come across Horrible Histories, I would definitely recommend having a look. I've read the books since I was a child (they make great stocking fillers!) and recently enjoyed the television series.

Given the cover illustration, I don't think I'll get shouted at too much for saying the book is about the role women played in WWII. I can't really think of many instances, that I've personally come across, where this viewpoint is portrayed, except maybe Land Girls or The Night Watch by Sarah Waters, which I read when it came out because it was featured in a display at my local bookshop. I haven't seen Enigma but I'm guessing that would be one to watch after reading this book, yes? No? Anyway, I liked learning about the roles these women played and I felt so much admiration for those who did the jobs described in Code Name Verity. I kept thinking, I'm not sure I could ever do what they did but I suppose you'll never know what you're capable of until you're tested.

I'll probably try and seek out some more books like Code Name Verity. It had everything you could ever want in a story - suspense, twists and turns, humour (one character had a delightfully dry wit), and of course, given it was part of the Valentine's Reading Mutiny Challenge, love. The love binding friendships that would not have come about under different circumstances and breaking down class and social barriers; romantic love (to anyone who has read the book, did you picture Jamie Bell for a certain character?!); love for what is right and true; and love for one's country. Code Name Verity is a song to the unnamed, faceless heroes who worked in the shadows of what was already our world's darkest time to restore peace and justice. Lest we forget.

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