Genre: young adult / historical
Code Name Verity: (1) Code Name Verity
Young adult RBC 2014: The first book in a series
Fearless Scotswoman and blue blooded ‘Queenie’ become unlikely best friends with Maddie Brodatt, aspiring female pilot, when the war brings these two girls together. Their unlikely friendship transcends their rank, official duties and geographical boundaries as their operations continue to bring them together and send them apart again. When the pilot who is meant to be flying Queenie to France for Code Name Verity is unavoidably detained, Queenie suggests Maddie for the task. Maddie is very familiar with flying her best friend to top-secret missions that she’s not allowed to ask about and so she doesn’t expect this flight to be any different from normal. When their plane is hit, Queenie is forced to jump for it and continue her mission as planned. When she’s captured by enemy forces after a stupid cultural blunder, one wrong move could bring everything she’s worked for crashing down …
This was a breath-taking book. Beyond messed up for sure – classic case of an unreliable narrator – and you have no idea what is fact and what is fiction. Elizabeth Wein’s writing is dangerously hypnotic and yet heart-breaking at the same time. Queenie and Maddie’s friendship and history is revealed in tiny, bite-sized pieces as Queenie is trapped in her cell and pressured for information from her captors. As she weaves damning truth with believable lies, no one – least of all Queenie – is quite sure what to believe.
Queenie and Maddie have an interesting friendship. Queenie literally lives in a castle in Scotland, has attended finishing school in Switzerland and has had her premature university education interrupted by the war. Maddie has been raised by her grandparents, loves riding her motorbike across the countryside and has an insatiable desire to learn about engines and aeroplanes. Her grandfather’s mechanic shop might do fairly well for itself and Maddie might have attended a grammar school, but were it not for the war, the pair would never have met. Still, their initial meeting sees them thrown together in a high-pressure environment, relying on their wits and skills to bring a confused and very lost German pilot to land safely on British soil. The rest of their friendship and partnership is just as marked by these on-the-fly role-playing situations and just as they are terrified of getting it all wrong, both of our fearless heroines are similarly fuelled by the adrenaline that these circumstances generate. It makes for a terrifyingly energetic and sensational story.
This is an incredible read. Flitting between the past and the present, we are fed pieces of the story chapter-by-chapter, never knowing when we have the full story in our hands. Elizabeth Wein is a genius at building tension while also making the reader want to cry. A brilliant story of friendship, loyalty and betrayal during the war, this book is a must-read for all ages.
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