“I am a coward. I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was.”
You will question the truthfulness that statement many times as you read this novel. Just putting that out there. Anyway, as you may have seen from the reviews on my blog, I don’t read a lot of historical fiction. This is unfortunate because what I have read, I love. So first order of business: I’d love recs of historical fiction novels! This book was actually also a recommendation from multiple people, so I trust HF recs. Note: I was remiss again and forgot the big panda. Yes, it’s a Fangirl Favorites Friday, and yes, this book is an all-time favorite.
*For once, summary from Goodreads* Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun. When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution. As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called “a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel” in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.
First of all, the author does an excellent job of setting up the scene. This book is obviously historically based, and she makes you feel like you’re living the experiences yourself. The book was so action-packed and intense, and I couldn’t stop turning the page! Just when you think you have everything figured out, a new revelation comes to light, changing your whole perspective. There’s always more of the story than what’s on the page, and every single detail is significant later on. There is a lot of play on truth and secrecy, which leads to a lot of suspicion from the reader, mirroring what the characters must have felt. The first part of the book was basically Verity’s confessions to the Nazis, written in journal format. In this part, we learn how she and Maddie became friends and basically what led up to their plane crash. We also get insight into Verity’s experience in the Nazi prison. Verity is a very interesting person to both read about and read from. She has so much spunk and her personality just flows off the pages. The second part of the book is from Maddie’s point of view, written in the form of reports. I had a little bit more trouble connecting with Maddie because her personality felt a little less dynamic, but I definitely “clicked” with her by the end. We learn what was happening to her while Verity was in prison, as well as her version of the events that Verity has narrated. The two storylines converge by the last fourth, and it all builds up to a heart-breaking conclusion. Seriously, I cried. To anyone who has already read this book: is this normal?
My favorite part about this book was probably the friendship between Verity and Maddie. This book had almost no romance in it, but instead focused so strongly on the bonds between these too. I could really tell just how much they cared for each other and to me, that was beautiful. Everyone should have a friendship or two like that in their lives. Those quotes above are just so beautifully heartbreaking and just hit me right in the feels. I also appreciated that this book really made you think about literature and storytelling itself, including the reliability of a narrator and how important getting a story out there is. And not just any story, but the right story. Finally, I loved how detailed this book was, and it was clear that it was very heavily researched. I feel like I actually glimpsed quite a bit more insight into World War 2, especially when it was from a point of view that is uncommon.
Basically, if you haven’t read this book, you MUST go do so now. Even if you’re usually not a huge historical fiction fan, I still think you should try it. This book is just so beautiful and powerful and aahh!!!!