I don’t even know where to start with Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. This book had me from page one. I’m a sucker for World War II history. I’m a sucker for U.K. accents. So you can imagine how this novel, in audiobook format thanks to SYNC, had me from the very first phrase that Queenie utters.
Here’s what worked for me…the point of view from which the story is told (first person) and how that story is shared (letters and diary entries). Listening to the book in the comfort of my cozy car, I felt like Queenie and Maddie were sitting in the car with me telling me their stories. They were my carpool partners. This book definitely made me wish my commute was longer than 20 minutes each way.
When I got to the climax of the story on my drive home from work, I was in tears at the stoplight nearest my home. I can’t imagine being in Maddie’s position and making that decision. It was unfathomable. I definitely DID NOT see it coming. And I still get a bit choked up thinking about it.
It’s awful, telling it like this, isn’t it? As though we didn’t know the ending. As though it could have another ending. It’s like watching Romeo drink poison. Every time you see it you get fooled into thinking his girlfriend might wake up and stop him. Every single time you see it you want to shout, ‘You stupid ass, just wait a minute,’ and she’ll open her eyes! ‘Oi, you, you twat, open your eyes, wake up! Don’t die this time!’ But they always do.
There are lots of literary references in the novel especially to Peter Pan. I do wish I had read the book rather than listened as I am sure I would have marked my copy up with notes. I actually found this image on Pinterest listing the Peter Pan references. I definitely want to read Peter Pan and re-read Code Name Verity after I complete “Pan.”
Here’s my tip…if the Author Notes are in your copy, READ THEM! Once I finished listening to the novel, I was delighted to find that Wein had recorded her notes about how the novel came into being. That’s my favorite part about historical fiction, learning how it connects to the real history–where the inspiration to write a historical fiction novel comes from.
As you can tell, I am giving Code Name Verity two thumbs way up! I’m waiting for someone I know to read this and share in my joy for this beautifully crafted novel so I can talk about what actually happened. This is easily the best book I have read this year.