Code Name Verity
by Elizabeth Wein
reviewed by Natalia Cruz
Suspenseful and powerful, the historical drama Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, describes the tragedy that was World War II through two different perspectives of independent young women, developing a strong friendship while facing the unimaginable horrors of Nazi-occupied France. On a secret operation for the Allies in the war against the Nazi’s, one English flier, Maddie, and one Scottish wireless operator, Julie, fly on a undercover mission to France. Told through Julie’s perspective in the first section of the novel, she believes herself as “a coward,” (Wein 1) through the decisions that she makes. When the plane malfunctions, Julie is forced to jump from the plane while Maddie is left to guide it to a landing, separating the two. Little did they know the moment the two left the plane, their lives were going to change forever.
Julie, the powerful and decisive narrator of the novel, shows her authority around the Allies, using multiple code names to hide her true identity while on missions. Being a wireless operator only takes up half her personality. While doubling as a spy and interrogator, her witty and well thought out responses kept her as a force to be reckoned with. Her dedication and passion to her job led her to encounter Maddie, a hopeful and determined pilot training to become the best flier. Maddie and Julie quickly become in awe with each other, and soon become an incredible team. After bonding over their fears that the war has introduced to them, their inseparable bond brings a powerful trust and friendship to them where they feel safer in each others company. Throughout their friendship, Julie gives Maddie the responsibility to fly her to France for an operation. While on the plane, it begins to plummet downwards. Julie jumps from the plane while Maddie is able to bring it to a steady landing and escapes. Julie is not as lucky as Maddie when she reaches the ground. Captured by the Nazi Gestapo, Julie is allowed to live with one exception, she must write down any information about her job, believing that Maddie has died. The Gestapo thought they would easily force the simple truth out of her, but instead receive something more than they expected from Julie.
Elizabeth Wein writes from Julie and Maddie’s points of view, using different techniques with both the characters. Wein incorporates a more detailed description of writing with Julie, who has been captured and forced to live as a prisoner, while Maddie wrote from her point of view through a notebook. Using Julie as the better writer, Wein writes her narration as the more advanced writer so the reader can have a better understanding of what she went through, how she suffered, and the vast feelings and emotions Julie went under believing Maddie had died. Wein describes their relationship for each other, helping the reader understand how much they meant to each other, Julie narrating , “It’s like being in love, discovering your best friend,” (Wein 68). Because Wein writes from the perspective of two different characters, the story runs along a non-linear narrative. Julie writes about events out of order, hoping it would be difficult for her interrogators to understand. Wein emphasizes through the out of order events that everything written down was through the eyes of a scared prisoner, fighting for her life in an unimaginable world.
I extremely enjoyed reading this novel. I love reading novels that really touch your emotions and make you think about someone’s struggles and appreciate your own life, and Wein did justice for me. There have been multiple points in the story where a certain phrase stirred up several emotions. If you enjoy reading stories about World War II, the amazing powerful bond of a loving friendship, and strong motivational women during a terrifying period in history, than this is the perfect novel for it all. I would definitely read it over again.