Halfway through Elizabeth Wein's compelling and exciting novel, Code Name Verity, the author pulls the rug right out from under us with an unexpected plot twist. Without giving too much away, don't believe everything you read about in the first half of the book.
Set during World War II, Wein's novel focuses on two female protagonists, one of whom is the title character. Both women are shot down by the Nazis while on an intelligence mission over France in 1943. One of them, Verity (not her real name, but a code name), is subsequently tortured (some grim moments here) by the Gestapo to write down important classified information about Allied invasion plans.
As Verity seemingly jots down on any scrap of paper the information her captors demand, she relates to the reader about her intelligence training, various adventures and misadventures as a member of the Air Transport Auxiliary, and her strong friendship with Maddie (AKA "Kittyhawk"), who managed to wind up being the only Scottish female enlisted pilot flying bombers for the RAF (historically unlikely, as Wein herself points out, but it does give good backstory). When their plane got shot down, Maddie seemingly disapeared after the crash, leaving Verity to fend for herself until she was captured.
To say more would spoil the fun of reading this teriffic adventure. Not just a action/adventure/suspense thriller, Code Name Verity also spotlights such themes as the true strength of friendship and individual loyalties, and how we all can find validation in ourselves, as well as being brave enough to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Good historical background detail and powerful characterzation -even though it's taking place 60 years ago, Verity, Maddie, their families, the various RAF personnel, and even the Nazi interrogators (who aren't the usual cardboard bad guys) are vivid and riveting people- make Code Name Verity a great read! And that climax!
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