Book Reviews

Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

You know those super popular books you haven’t read yet? That seems to be me and Code Name Verity. I do enjoy historical fiction, but I feel like by the time I found out about it, I was past the hype period. So I’m glad Natasha Ngan recommended it for the 12 Authors 12 Books. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


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 and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?


TW: torture, suicidal ideation

Code Name Verity is a historical fiction set during World War II and mainly surrounds airplanes and friendship. Told through journal entries – which are being translated during Verity’s imprisonment – Code Name Verity tells a story of friendship. Deeply inspired and based on airplane training, if you don’t like planes this won’t be for you. There are a lot of scenes about the plane training and taking place in literal planes. And while I do like an airplane, I also was a bit tired of it by the end. But where Code Name Verity‘s main strength is lies in the characters.

Told through anecdotes and memories of Verity’s friendship – also with snippets of her daily life (and imprisonment), Code Name Verity felt like a conversation directly to you. There’s a degree not only of unreliability, as her journals are being read and translated so how truthful can she be, but also of the unreliability present in memories. But while Verity’s journal entries almost created a frame narrative – her memories being book ended by her treatment there – what captivated me the most was the second half of the book.


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With this second half the first part comes into relief. Code Name Verity‘s beginning is about the power of writing our story and what we tell. It’s also about loyualty, hidden secrets, and betrayal. But the second half is about bringing the first into focus. It holds a conversation. And it made me re-think the entire first half. So while I wasn’t a huge fan of the airplanes, and thought the friendship story would be my favorite, actually the themes and second half was. If you’re struggling through and also are on the fence about the planes, then I’d encourage you to stick it out until halfway at least. Find Code Name Verity on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite historical fiction?

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