Code Name Verity: Review

It’s no secret that historical fiction, especially young adult historical fiction, is among my favorite types of books to read.  I’ve discussed my top World War II and Holocaust YA novels here  as well as my top five YA Historical fiction picks here.

When a co-worker recommended this book to me, frankly, I was surprised I hadn’t already picked it up and read it.  Female pilots and spies circumventing Nazis during World War Two – the novel sounded right up my alley.


Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Goodreads sayspilot 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.

My review: As Goodread’s summarizes, Verity and Maddie’s relationships is revealed throughout descriptions of the events which led to a wrecked plane and danger for the characters.  I wanted to love this book; however, I just don’t.  This book, for me, was good not great.   In praise, I love what the author aimed for with this novel, and with many readers who love it, I’m happy that she explored this area of history with female pilots.  Furthermore, the author wrote well, especially in the last half of the book where I felt like it really picked up pace and moved quick.

Why I didn’t love the novel? I’m very tired of fiction novels using several narrators, flashbacks, or movement in perspective.  This time in history is so powerful, so I feel like the story should tell itself – not forcing the reader to jump back and forth in perspective.  While this was, I believe, the author’s intention, I found much of the beginning plot confusing as the reader was attempting to piece together the story.

Because I enjoyed the characters, I wished for a separate novel for each . I wanted more time to get to know them and their lives, separately.  Also, the detailed pilot and airplane descriptions were much appreciated but got in the way of the story.  I can see that many readers may have liked that length of detail, but I wanted more of the action of Maddie flying.

In conclusion, I felt that there was so much too going on structurally  (the different points of view, moving back and forth in time, and description of a series of events) for me to feel the story of the main characters.  That being said, it was a good book, and I would still recommend it to many readers (and perhaps I’ll give it a second chance 🙂

Have you read Code Name Verity? What did you think?


  1. Thanks for an insightful review. I may check this one out–I too am a huge fan of historical fiction for kids and teens, and it seems like not much of it is being done right now (it’s all werewolves and vampires!).

    Hopped over from the Kid Lit Blog Hop!
    Rebecca at The Ninja Librarian

    1. Yes, while I’m glad it’s helps teens/young adults to read, I’m not quite into vampires myself. Thanks for visiting!

  2. I love your comment about perspective changes because I find them to be so overused in middle grade fiction. I find that too many perspective changes interrupts the flow of the story and affects character development. I love the topic area and I wonder if my daughter would be interested in this one. I’ll pin it for her! Thanks for joining us in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Your little one must be getting so big – one year old this summer? Is that right? 🙂

    1. I agree with, but, gosh, this book is loved by many, so definitely give it a whirl! Thanks for asking – the hardest cliche in the world is truly how quick a baby’s first year goes by – hard to believe!

  3. I can totally understand your points about the perspective shifts and the airplane descriptions. I loved the book, and though it took me a bit to get into it, once I did, I was hooked. For some reason, the perspective changes worked for me, but I do see your point about how it could be a bit choppy for the reader, especially as this is a time in history that is so important! I actually need to write up my review of this book myself–I only read it recently–last summer, but it feels like just yesterday and I do want to share my thoughts! 😀

    1. Thanks for visiting! I love hearing what others think of books, especially popular ones. I really feel as those I’m going to re-read this, which is strange, given my review, but I do want to re-visit it. Cheers!

  4. Thank you so much for your insight. You know, I have wanted to read this one, but I suspect everything that displeased you about this book, would also annoy me. I will still give it a try, as I do love that era and my dad is a bit of a plane nut so I have grown up with them, but again, the switching perspectives is something that also grates on my nerves. Thanks for a great review and for joining us on the Kid Lit Blog Hop

  5. This sounds like a book I would have jumped at to read when I was younger. Moving back and forth between characters, though, if not done smoothly does have the tendency to pull the reader out of the story. Thanks for the review and for sharing on the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  6. I started off really loathing the book and almost set it aside, then I got caught up in it and by the end, I really appreciated how I’d been manipulated at the beginning… so I can compketely see how you are of two minds about it! Good to have found your blog via the #KLBH (even if not this post 🙂 )

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