Code Name Verity

What an awful book. That was the first thing I thought after I finished it. What a horribly fucking awful book. I never swear in my reviews but I do now. What a horribly fucking awful book. I might as well have cut my own heart out instead of reading it – the result would’ve been the same. So, naturally, it was an amazing story.

It all takes place during World War II. Two English women (sorry, one English woman and one Scottie) uses what gifts’ they have to help in the war. That means that Maddie are flying her planes and her best friend, with her natural faking abilities, turn into the perfect spy. Together they leave England to fly in over Nazi-occupied France where Maddie is to drop off her friend, code name Verity. But they’re hit in the air and Maddie makes her friend jump off while she’s trying to land the plane. Once on the ground, Verity is soon captured by the German Gestapo and taken prisoner. Now in enemies hand’s, Verity has no other choice then to cough up the truth or be executed.

Slowly throughout the story, Verity tells her tale while confessing everything she knows to the Germans. You get to follow her and Maddie’s friendship told by Verity but seen from Maddie’s point of view. And in between the tale of two women doing what they can for their country and at the same time building a strong relationship, you hear Verity’s fears and what she’s most afraid off. How she longs to go home and how she’s afraid she’ll never get back. She talks about courage and hope and failure, all the things that goes through your head when you’re a captured spy on enemy territory. But how much will it cost her to reveal all her secrets?

Thinking about how to explain how this book is, what this book is, makes me speechless. Like there’s no words in the world to explain what kind of story this is. Code Name Verity is, in one word, a masterpiece. But that just doesn’t seem to be enough. It is so much more than that. It is a rainbow of love and hope and friendship, of a bond that will never break and two people who would do anything, anything, for each other.

Sometimes I look at a novel and I see just that. A book, with a cover and a picture on it, pages, white pages with black ink on it. Nothing more. Just what it really is – pages and ink. And then I open it up and I read and it isn’t just pages and ink, it’s a story. It’s a whole other world with people who have feelings, fears and happy memories and love towards one another. And it’s just amazing how you can put something like that confined in pages and ink. Something that, for so many people, look boring. But when you open it up there’s nothing boring with the content. Code Name Verity was like that for me. I can’t believe that this heart wrenching story has been kept confined in my book pile for all these months. I can’t even remember when I got it, but I know I will never forget the story now.

It is, simply, amazing. Elizabeth Wein has created something extraordinary. And the thing is, when I thought about it, really thought about it, there’s nothing in the novel that really stood out. This is so hard to explain, but, it wasn’t like when you read the back of a book and This is about a girl who is chosen to save the world or This is about a boy who saves people from evil villains. This is just the story about a friendship, but what a friendship. It felt like the novel didn’t need That One Thing That Define The Whole Tale because the story wasn’t really about the airplanes or the spything or the Gestapo or the Resistance. It was about the relationship between two women. Between two best friends. Between Maddie and Verity and what that friendship meant for them.

The whole thing is remarkable, in so many ways, but I won’t discuss it all here or we’ll be here for the rest of the night. What I will say, however, is that I love how it was written. Not just the language in itself, but that it was told through Verity’s written confession to the Gestapo. And though captured and as good as dead anyway, she is a cracker. She made me laugh more than once and I loved that, I truly loved that. It’s such a serious book with so many real and horribly horrible feelings that it felt good to laugh once in a while. I think Wein has made a good job of that, weigh it all up.

It feels like there’s not really anything more I can say about this, because no matter how hard I try (and I’ve been trying hard for a while now) I still can’t set words to all the things this novel made me feel. I loved it and it broke my heart but it was amazing and my oh my will I recommend this to anyone. It is a very special book. One who’s equal you’ll never meet. I’m glad I read it and I’m ever so thankful to Elizabeth Wein for writing it. It is a star shining brightly on the sky and lest we forget.