3) Code Name Verity

By: Elizabeth Wein

Date Finished: 1.30.2014

by Elizabeth Weinby Elizabeth Wein

It’s like being in love, discovering your best friend.

Two girls, best friends because of the war and cruelly separated by the same war.  They made an excellent team, but after their plane was damaged in Nazi-occupied France they were pulled apart to face the horrors alone.

Oh, my gracious, what a MASTERPIECE.  Truly, truly this book is a work of art.  There are many things that are inherently interesting about this plot: World War II, a female spy, a female pilot during war, a life story scratched out in a Nazi prison cell.  This book is intriguing without even trying.  What makes it COMPELLING is that the two girls are such GOOD FRIENDS.  They are sisters as truly as if they were flesh and blood.  Their devotion to each other makes the story so much more personal somehow and the danger that much more devastating.

Wein is a master artisan, mushing together anecdotes from the prison with the story of their friendship.  Suspense is effectively built, then interrupted, sometimes as abruptly as leaving a word incomplete.  It’s a cruel, cruel trick to play on the emotions, but it is exquisite from a literary standpoint.  She also has well-placed grammatical errors – mostly missing punctuation or capitals – and will use repetition to give a visceral sense of what’s happening.  There’s a lovely little quote from the New York Times on the cover which proclaims this book is “a fiendishly plotted mind game of a novel.”  That’s it in a nutshell.  It is wickedly mesmerizing and oh, so worth the read.

If THIS is what Historical Fiction is all about, I may be switching genres.

(Although, I’m not sure I can handle the almost-truth.  Fantasy allows one a bit more disbelief.)

My library stocked this book in the Teen Room, so I’m going to consider this a young adult book.  This is kind of a big deal because my library tends to shift YA books into other categories, leaving only the smallest selection in the Teen Room.  (I’m not sure I would’ve labeled it YA, but I’m thrilled that other people have.)  I mention this because this book alone can trump all arguments that Young Adult books/books about women/books written by women are fluff.  It is a powerful story and I am so grateful to Wein for bringing it into the world.

At the end of the day: Just exactly for me.  In every way.

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