- Publisher: Electric Monkey
- Format: Paperback | 464 pages
- Dimensions: 128mm x 194mm x 32mm | 240g
- Publication date: 2 June 2012
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 1405258217
- ISBN 13: 9781405258210
- Sales rank: 11,297
This is an award-winning and bestselling tale of friendship and courage. Only in wartime could a stalwart lass from Manchester rub shoulders with a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a special operations executive. When a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France, she is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in 'Verity's' own words, as she writes her account for her captors. Truth or lies? Honour or betrayal? Everything they've ever believed in is put to the test..."A remarkable book." (Daily Mail).
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Elizabeth Wein was born in New York, and grew up in England, Jamaica and Pennsylvania. She is married with two children and now lives in Perth, Scotland. Elizabeth is a member of the Ninety-Nines, the International Organization of Women Pilots. She was awarded the Scottish Aero Club's Watson Cup for best student pilot in 2003 and it was her love of flying that partly inspired the idea for Code Name Verity.
By Sarah Frost Mellor 14 Mar 2012
I love stories told in two parts, from different narrative viewpoints, and that is just one of many many things to love about this book. The first half is told by 'Verity', a captured female spy being interrogated by the Gestapo in a former hotel in France. She begin her story with the words, 'I am a coward,' but you don't have to read much further before you realise this simply isn't true.
Tortured, threatened and terrified, Verity proves her courage again and again. Under the cover of writing a confession for her captors, she tells the story of how she came to be a spy, how she met her best friend, Maddie ('It's like falling in love, finding your best friend') and how the pair of them came to be in France.
'We're a sensational team', Verity tells us. It's this friendship that drives the story, as we try to piece together the clues in Verity's confession - being made in extremis - to get at the exact truth of what happened to the sensational team.
Elizabeth Wein lays many excellent traps for the reader along the way; expect to have your heart in your mouth a lot of the time. Is Verity really betraying her country (Scotland, not England)? Is she going to die? Is her best friend already dead, or in terrible danger? Will the two young women ever see one another again?
Midway through, the story switches to Maddie's voice. This is the tricky point at which an author can lose a reader, especially one who's fallen in love, the way she helps us fall in love with Verity. But it only takes a couple of pages for us to love Maddie, too, and to marvel at how distinctly different her voice is to Verity's.
These women are alive. They leap off the page and grip you by the hand, and then the heart. You desperately want them to have a happy ending, but at the same time you sense it would be cheating, or lying, to arrive at this after the harrowing and entirely believable scenes which have unfolded.
To move the reader without resorting to sentiment. To arrive at an ending that is both honest and uplifting. To make you think afresh about a part of history you thought you knew. To transport you, for the time it takes to read the book, to a different time and another world, while showing you so clearly why these stories matter and how they can resonate. These are proofs positive of a gifted, compassionate and generous author.
I doubt I'll read a better book this year.
'It has been a while since I was so captivated by a character ... Code Name Verity is one of those rare things: an exciting - and affecting - female adventure story.' The Guardian '[a] tale of espionage, torture and female derring-do.' The Times 'It's a compelling, uncompromising read which makes few concessions to the age group it's written for - either in subject matter or narrative technique. The bits about flight and women in the war are well researched and the terrifying, but exciting, atmosphere is good.' The Independant 'This is a remarkable book, which had me horrified and totally gripped at the same time, and although it is billed as a Young Adult title, don't be put off - it is a very grown-up story.' The Daily Mail '... a rare young adult novel entirely about female power and female friendship...' New York Times '[It] does more than stick with me. It haunts me. I just can't recommend it enough.' -- Maggie Stiefvater, bestselling author of Shiver 'This is a rich and rewarding adventure story with multi-layered heroines and complicated emotions. All 450 pages really do fly by. Expect to see Wein's name in the running for the Older Readers Category of the Scottish Children's Book Awards next year.' The Scotsman 'If you want an original read that will challenge your perceptions about truth, lies, bravery and deception, this is one for you.' Sugarscape '... passionate writing with an utterly compelling story.' -- Manda Scot, Chair of the Historical Writers' Association '... full of convincing detail, heart-stopping emotion and tension.' The Bookseller