The Truth And Nothing But The Truth: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
I have heard a lot of extremely high praise for Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity. Praise from people whose opinions I truly respect. Code Name Verity contains several things I typically love, including a World War II setting and an unreliable narrator. And yet….I have to confess that I found reading Code Name Verity incredibly painful and slow-going.
Code Name Verity is about two young women, a spy and a pilot, who get caught up in the British War Effort. The spy, who goes by Verity, is captured by Nazis in France when she looks the wrong way before crossing the street. She is coerced into writing a confession–as long as she writes, she lives. Meanwhile, her friend Maddie struggles to keep herself alive and find a way to get her friend safely out of France. The book is divided into two sections, the first narrated by Verity, the second by Maddie.
Admittedly, Code Name Verity is packed with clever plotting and impressive research. I have a lot of respect for the scope of the book and its inspiring story of friendship. However, I found the writing overly dense and technical. I have no real interest in the details of airplanes and how they are flown, which certainly didn’t help matters, nor did I find the voices engaging enough to help me slog through the text. If not for the feedback I’d heard prior to reading, Verity would have been a DNF for me. I was told repeatedly to stick it out until the second half (when the book switches to Maddie’s narration), and while I did find this part a bit faster to read than the first, I still ultimately didn’t feel like the investment of time in the beginning was worth my while.
If you’re willing to take some extra time with a book and you really enjoy historical fiction and spy novels, Code Name Verity might be right for you. It has certainly gone to the top of a lot of peoples’ favorites list. On the other hand, if you give it a try and find yourself really fighting to get through it, just know that you are not alone out there.