Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity
By Elizabeth Wein
Published 2012 by Hyperion

When a British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France, one girl must find a way to make sure that the mission isn't lost for both girls aboard. Verity will do whatever it takes to make sure the cause survives.

That's not a terribly good plot summary, so maybe you want to go read someone else's before I continue. Or, more likely, if you're reading this, you don't need a plot summary, because this has quickly become one of the most buzzed-about books of 2012. It is because of this that I ultimately ended up approaching this book with a bit of trepidation. I was thrilled to snag an ARC at Midwinter because it was already getting quite a bit of buzz among the publisher booths. As it happens, I never got a chance to get started reading until my vacation (have I mentioned that I want to read ALL THE BOOKS?). By this point, the buzz surrounding the book had grown exponentially and I now began to worry - would this by my next The Hunger Games? Well...

It kinda was. After all the tremendously wonderful things I'd been hearing about this book, it was going to be rather difficult for it to actually live up to them all. However, I thought Wein had come up with a truly fascinating premise and I was still looking forward to reading. Told mostly as the written confession of Verity, this is a gripping narrative about two young girls who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances in war-torn Europe. I loved the use of this narrative device and I thought Verity was a fantastic narrator. She was complex and yet easy to relate to, passionate and completely distraught over her situation (well, who wouldn't be?). But, I also had a really hard time getting into this book - the first part got a bit bogged down in technical details of the war and how the two young women came to be aboard that plane. Yes, I understand that these are the sorts of things Verity would actually be writing in a confession, but it made it a bit harder for me to connect to the characters and the story. And that's unfortunate, because reviews had me believing that this book would tear out my insides and wreck me emotionally. Yes, I got a bit teary, but not nearly to the point I expected or as much as I have been during other recent reads. And, as most of the reviews have been purposefully vague (because the less you know about the story, the more effective it is), I was completely caught off-guard by a turn the story takes in the last third or so. This isn't always necessarily a bad thing but, in this instance, I felt like the story didn't work as well for me anymore.

Don't get me wrong - this is still a very well-written and clever book with powerful themes of friendship and loyalty and a gripping historical fiction about World War II. But, all I expected from this book, it just didn't quite deliver.

Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.

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