Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein


I read this duology a bit backwards. I read Rose Under Fire first in 2014 as part of YALSA’s hub challenge and was blown away. I finally got around to this one thanks to the Beat the Backlist challenge started by Novel Knight.

Code Name Verity is the story of the unbreakable bonds of female friendship during WWII. Maddie and Queenie are best friends. Maddie is a pilot with the Air Transport Auxilary who occasionally flies for the Special Operations division and Queenie is an agent. Together, they’re one hell of a team. On what is supposed to be a routine drop off and pick up in France, they are shot down. Queenie is captured and forced to endure torture at the hands of the Gestapo. To survive, she weaves the tale of how she and Maddie became friends, telling the Gestapo everything she learned about aircraft and bases from Maddie. But is she telling the truth? Or stalling for time?

Meanwhile, Maddie survived the crash and was taken in by the Resistance. Living in hiding isn’t easy. And as each attempt to get her home fails, she finds herself living as a visiting family member to the family hiding her, right under the Nazi’s noses. Soon it’s up to Maddie and the Resistance to save her friend and finish the mission. But Maddie wasn’t meant to be the spy.

This was a great tale of friendship during war. The girls come from vastly different upbringings and are on either side of the class divide. Queenie went to boarding school in Switzerland before the war and then to Oxford for a semester. Her father is a Laird and Earl. Maddie is the granddaughter of a mechanic who has a moterbike shop, and her Russian ancestors were Jewish. But the war brought them together and they forged an unbreakable friendship.

It was also a tale of one’s inner strength to endure torture and overcome one’s fears (each girl lists her fears). It’s a story of what one will do to survive in a time of war and what we’ll do to save someone we love. What Maddie has to do to save Queenie is heartbreaking. And of finding the strength to go on.

Wein’s knowledge as a pilot and of WWII aircraft is apparent and gives the book an authentic feel. It’s also heavily researched with a bibliography in the back.

I give this one Four Lightsabers. If you are also a Star Wars fan, then check out her Middle Grade Novel, Cobalt Squadron featuring Rose and Paige Tico.



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