Gwen & Kate's Library

Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.

Gwen’s Honesty About Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

I suppose my expectations for this book were just too high. Based off the description and numerous 5-star reviews, I was hoping for an interesting story with an amazing twist at the end that would blow my mind.


Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction (WWII), Friendship, Spies

Rating: 3.5 stars


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.



I suppose my expectations for this book were just too high. Based off the description and numerous 5-star reviews, I was hoping for an interesting story with an amazing twist at the end that would blow my mind. This (false) expectation kept me reading through many boring passages about seemingly unimportant subjects, some surprises and connections that left me thinking, and many humorous and witty comments that seemed to make the story all the more unrealistic and impossible. The “truths” that the main character tells are written in a narrative format, making it seem less like a captured spy giving up information to the enemy, but a young girl writing a diary (from her best friend’s perspective)!

The beginning of the book is written from “Verity’s” point of view, a character that you know very little about until halfway through, when it changes perspective to her best friend Maddie. I did enjoy this unique writing style and the mysteries surrounding Verity’s identity, occupation and mission in Nazi-occupied France, where she is held prisoner. When the book changes perspective, many revelations are made that did improve the story, and the excitement certainly picks up.

Code Name Verity is about two female pilots who are best friends, but their friendship seems too sudden and intense to make sense, and the many war and pilot terms used were not well explained. In addition, the author’s note reveals that much of the story besides the main plot was made up, and all of the proper nouns are not historically accurate, including the French city of Ormaie, where much of the book takes place. This leaves the reader wondering what they actually learned from this book, and how much of it was fantasied in an attempt to make a good story instead of an accurate one.

I was disappointed in Code Name Verity, but wanted to enjoy it very badly. I wonder what readers who loved this book loved it for, and if there was some important detail I might have missed. I did not cry at the sad parts, but only because I saw them coming and prepared myself. I did laugh at loud at some humorous jokes, and the tidbit of romance was perfect and might encourage me to read the companion book, Rose Under Fire, just to see the outcome.

I wonder what fans of The Book Thief, A Brief History of Montmaray, and the countless other young adult books about WWII think of Code Name Verity, and if it was just a disinterest in the genre that prevented me from loving this book as much as so many other readers did.


2 comments on “Gwen’s Honesty About Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

  1. Kileh Friedman
    October 25, 2013

    Very good review. sorry it wasn’t as good as you hoped.

  2. elainestavitsky
    October 28, 2013

    excellent review. Too often, we are disappointed by books that appear to be great but then become boring or disappointing.

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This entry was posted on October 24, 2013 by in Author: Gwen, Review, Young Adult and tagged , , .
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