Code Name Verity

It has been a very long time since I was this excited about a book. Specifically - it's been a long time since I was this excited about the literary techniques in a book, rather than just the plot or characters (though the characters are vivid and interesting and the plot is very twisty - both extremely satisfying).


But here's the thing; I am. I am very excited. I want EVERYONE to know about this book. I want everyone to read this book. It's extremely well crafted, and I love the characters to pieces even when I find them irritating (which is a particular skill I haven't mastered, even toward my own characters). Let me tell you why this book is so exciting, and see if I can convince you.

Code Name Verity is what happens when an author looks at herself and asks "What would happen if a female pilot got herself involved in the second World War?" shortly followed by asking herself "And what if that female pilot was best friends with a female undercover Radio Operator?"


A mountain of research went into this book and I'll take my hat off to Elizabeth Wein or any other historical fiction author that has the gumption to see a story opportunity in old black and white photos and just... go for it. That's at least ten ink-stained thumbs up.


In addition to being an enrapturing depiction of life in WWII, there are several technical details that tip the scales in favor of this book (at least in my opinion).


The First Person Perspective

I don't much like first-person PoV, honestly. I mean, I don't dislike it, but I don't really like it either. In this case, the first-person pronouns make perfect sense, because the entire book is comprised of notes, reports, and journal entries written by the two main characters.

I love it when things make sense.


Unreliable Narrators

When your narrator gives misleading or incorrect information, or if they omit information necessary to correctly interpreting the context or heart of a situation, they are considered "unreliable." This is a literary device that can be done very well (see The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) or very badly (see the entirety of the Twilight series) depending on whether it was done intentionally or by accident (which is a phenomenon referred to in the professional world as "sloppy writing").

What makes the narrators in this book unreliable is spoilerish, so I won't spell it out, but let me simply say that it is extremely well done, and there's no hint of this technique until more than halfway through the book.


Slow Reveal

In a world of fast-paced stories, explosions, and plot twists, it's easy to lose sight of the benefits to a slow reveal.

Now, I'm not saying that the pace of this story is slow. I would suggest that the events depicted are fast-paced, but that the framing narrative (the story of the character telling the story) is much slower to unfold. That slow unfolding is executed very well, keeping me digging for more while not giving me what I want too quickly and smothering my interest. Definitely well done.

If you like strong female protagonists, "probable" historical fiction, and impossible hope - read this book. Read it now. Don't even finish this article - just go and get this book immediately.


(Also, it's available on Audible, and the narrator does an excellent job of differentiating between the characters. She's a dab hand with accents, and that's just icing on the cake if you ask me.)


10/10, will read it again.

#FemaleProtag #Historical #WWII

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