Code Name Verity is a Young Adult novel set during WWII in France so you knew I’d be all over this one! Two young women working for the British Military as a pilot and a spy are shot down over France. The spy is captured by the German army and is held prisoner and forced to give over government secrets. To do this, she is asked to write everything in English and her work is translated into German by one of the assistants to the captain. The spy endures incredible suffering and torture; while the author didn’t detail the abuse she endured, the reader got enough information to understand how intense the situation was.
The spy shares her secrets basically in the form of a novel, which makes up the first half of this book. Her novel details how she met her best friend, the pilot who she was shot down with. She discusses their training, their friendship, and their experiences as women in the military.
All the while, she is devastated because the Nazis showed her the pictures of the plane that crashed – charred with a burned body inside. She is heartbroken that her best friend is dead and just wants her own torture to end.
Loyalties are tested, the brutality of war is clear, and the Resistance is alive and strong throughout this book. I’ll be honest – it took quite a while for this to really capture my attention and become un-put-downable. I had to read a good 60% to get to that point. I only finished it because of the time I’d already invested and because it’s a WWII novel set in France, which I absolutely cannot resist. And I will say that it was worth it in the end.
The end was tragic, but it didn’t make me sob like the end of other WWII novels, such as The Nightingale, which was probably my favorite book that I read last year. So if you’re looking for a WWII book that you won’t get too emotionally invested in and won’t be sobbing over for days, this might be a good choice for you.
What I found impressive by the author is all of the historical details woven in. It sounded like she did a ton of research on women fighting during WWII and what their life must have been like. While quite dramatic, it’s a story that I believed and characters that I was rooting for, which enriched the reading for me.
This review was difficult to write, because I don’t even want to give away any names of the characters! Part of the suspense is learning the different identities of people given the secretive nature of their work. The two main characters each had multiple aliases and code names which came into play at important parts of the story. Giving away even one name before a person sits down to read it would be too revealing!
All in all, this was a solid 3 star read for me. I want to read every WWII novel set in France that’s ever been written, so I’m one book closer to that goal!