Monday, 25 March 2013

Code Name Verity

By Elizabeth Wein

When ‘Verity’, a British special agent, parachutes into Nazi-occupied France in October 1943, she is captured immediately. Held by the Gestapo at their headquarters, she is given two weeks to tell them everything she knows about the British war effort, or else they’ll shoot her on the spot. Reluctantly she agrees, knowing it’s her only hope of ever getting out, and so begins her story. Hurriedly told on scraps of paper, Verity reveals not only her secrets, but her journey, and her most extraordinary friendship with the pilot that flew her into France, Maddie.
I absolutely loved this book and I could hardly put it down! The characters Wein has created were exciting, unique and extremely realistic. Their stories were so intricately entwined that the plot was gripping from start to finish. Just when it seemed like you knew what was going to happen, another twist would throw you off of the scent and make you desperate to read on. The description in the book is detailed and interesting and we can visualise almost every setting mentioned, from those that are frequently visited, to those mentioned by Verity in fleeting memories.
Maddie was enchanting, a funny and emotional character, brought to life by Wein’s inspiring words. However, without a doubt my favourite character was Verity. This girl, who has so many names throughout the book, had such a moving story to tell, during which she shares with us, as the reader, her hopes, fears and dreams. Both the main characters have such selfless personalities-always worrying about each other- that you can’t help but love them, and their friendship is one that runs much deeper than normal bonds. As well as this, I also loved the way that smaller more minor characters were developed too, especially Von Linden, and Engel towards the end of the book.

As well as these things, what made the book so gripping for me was the narrative. In Part One of the book Verity tells the story, and we see her life told by her from a third person point of view. This sounds quite confusing but was really effective as it meant we could see all the characters, including Verity herself, from a neutral viewpoint and were able to make our own judgements. However, bits of Part One are also told in the present- snippets of information or small anecdotes about the goings on in the prison where Verity is being held. These parts were very moving and were often about her feelings and emotions. It is hard for me to talk about Part Two’s narrative without giving a plot twist away, and ruining the book for those of you who haven’t read it. Let’s just say, it was a shocking twist at first, but I thought it worked really well.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and I have to say it is probably my favourite book so far this year! The characters were believable and obviously well thought out; the narrative was brilliant and full of depth; and the plot was gripping, full of fantastic twists and turns. An absolutely fantastic book which I would recommend to anyone!

Eleanor, Year 10.

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