Sunday, August 11, 2013

A few thoughts on Code Name Verity

I recently finished reading Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity, the acclaimed story of a captured British WWII spy, told from her point of view during interrogation by the Nazis. I'm not going to do a review, because I don't really review books, and this is a book about which much has been written elsewhere. But these three things did occur to me while reading, and I thought I would share them:

1. If you're weary of romance in YA and want a book in which the primary relationship is a friendship, try this book. I am not weary of romance, but I still liked the concentration on another kind of close relationship.

2. I loved what Wein did with a certain secondary character. He's important in the Resistance and thus is a good guy ... right? Except he's also a sexual harasser. I love the complexity of a character being both noble and sleazy. Because it's the way real people are. History (and current events) are full of people who do great things but are not saints. I would like to see more of this in literature.

3. If you liked this book, try Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945, by Leo Marks. It's the nonfiction account of a British cryptographer's experience during WWII. In Code Name Verity, they mention "poem codes" in passing, but Marks describes what poem codes were in more detail, and how he trained spies to use them, and how he worked to come up with safer codes, and what it was like to see spies go out into enemy territory, and what challenges were associated with decoding messages. It was fascinating, sometimes funny and sometimes heart-breaking, and I think that having read it enabled me to appreciate Code Name Verity even more.

source of recommended read: bought


  1. I've been meaning to pick this up. Thanks for talking about it vs. reviewing. Lately, I've been finding myself too influenced by reviews, and it has been a downer to the reading experience.

    Hope you enjoyed your break.

    1. Thanks, I did!

      I find that I don't like to know too much about a book (or a movie) before I experience it for myself.

  2. I liked the friendship aspect very much, and how the family of one friend reached out to the other at the end of the book. I didn't sob great buckets like everyone told me I would. I think because at places the story seemed distant to me. But it was an amazing book, and great to look at a much written about time period from a new perspective.

    1. I didn't cry either, I guess because I didn't see any other way for it to end. And I agree, I'm glad to have read it.