Book Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

12851538Book Title/Author: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
: Disney-Hyperion  2012
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: No
Other Books From Author: The Lion Hunter’s series

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I borrowed this from my local library!



I don’t want to give too much of the story away but basically Code Name Verity is set in the midst of WWII and the narrator has been held prisoner by the Gestapo and forced, by interrogation and force, to write down everything she knows about the war efforts even though she knows they are going to kill her when she’s done what they’ve asked. She weaves in what she knows about the war effort in with how she even ended up involved in the war and her current condition and happenings while being held captive. I swear it’s so much more than what I’ve described but you need to just not know ANYTHING so you can get swept up into it all!

This is one of those books that I almost wish wasn’t labeled YA because I know that deters some people from reading books and this book is one I know that could be enjoyed by SO many different kinds of readers. I have friends who only read adult fiction and I am going to be shoving this in their hands because this is one magnificent and heartachingly wonderful story that is well written and will for sure have a spot on my top ten of 2013 list. Without a doubt.

I’ll be honest with you. If it wasn’t for trusted friends recommending this with high praise, I would have probably put it down for a bit. I mean, I love historical fiction set during WWII so I was just itching to read it! The beginning was a bit hard to get into for me — the way it’s told is a bit jarring at first and there were so many descriptions of aviation and locations and things I just felt were just making it hard for me to get into it or see where the book was going. Felt like I was really excited to get into this wonderful story I’d heard about but it was like trying to run in a swimming pool for me, with the things I named above, the resistance to me immersing myself into the story. So if you’ve tried to read this one and really couldn’t get into it. PATIENCE. It’s worth it! And I started to really find myself unable to turn the pages faster the further I got into it. It’s a slow build but the payoff is hefty.

I don’t want to give ANYTHING away plot-wise because this is the type of story that’s brilliance is in the careful reveals and the sharp unraveling of the story that demands you keep reading just one more chapter. Told in two parts by two different narrators, Code Name Verity is a poignant and impressive novel about friendship, survival and courage with the sobering backdrop of the war. Infinitely more than “just a war story”, Code Name Verity is one of those books that will be seared into my brain and heart with how tremendously moving it was and the way Elizabeth Wein delivers blindsiding twists and breathtaking revelations I could never anticipated nor have expected their impact to move me so profoundly. I’m a sucker for books with unique and all around masterful storytelling and this is one of those books that just soars in that department — from start to finish.

Also, KISS ME HARDY!! Three words that will always make me burst into tears now.

If there were ever a book that I’d make a sweeping recommendation for, no matter if you read YA or if you aren’t into historical fiction, this is it. Despite the slow start due to an abundance of aviation type descriptions and the settling into the way the story is told, this book was knock-you-off-your feet incredible! The unraveling of this story and the deliverance of moving twists and revelations, accompanied by the most moving story of friendship I’ve encountered in a while, ensured this book has wound up on my very small ALL TIME FAVORITES list. I’m most stingy with this kind of recommendation and Code Name Verity certainly is deserving.


For Fans  Of: moving stories of friendship, historical fiction, beautiful stories that make you ache and give you so many feelings, WWII stories
You May Also Like: The Book Thief by Markus Zusack, Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepytus, Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum  — all three of these books are not only among my favorite historical fiction books but just, in general, all time favorites.


Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it? Did you love it like I did or feel differently? Was it hard for you to get into it in the beginning or was it just me? (My book club was split!). Did you also bawl just thinking about KISS ME HARDY?? Please tell me all the things you thought about this one!!


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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I love reviews for Code Name Verity because they’re all “I can’t tell you anything but trust me and read it please?” but it’s so true. It’s a rare book that just makes reading it an EXPERIENCE. That’s how I felt while reading. It’s also what makes it hard, for me at least, to pinpoint what’s so great about it. It’s just living the novel.

    PS I cried through a good part of the last quarter of the book.

  2. Actually, the reason it’s set in WWII made me stay away from it. It’s not usually my genre- But sometimes one needs to get out of the comfort zone in oder to discover something truly amazing. This one seems like a gem that needs to be read!

  3. This is one of those books that has been on my TBR list for a while, but I just kept putting it off because I thought it would just be ok. This review definitely changed my mind, though! I will be picking this book up EXTREMELY soon!

  4. I don’t have anything to add because I agree with everything you just said. Everything. It took me awhile to get into it, but once I did, just wow.

  5. I think this might be the book that has been the most highly-recommended to me in the last few months, and every time I read another great review like this one it moves up a little on my to-buy list!

  6. Truthfully, if it wasn’t for your glowing review, I wouldn’t probably pick it up based on the cover, nor thought it was historical fiction. But after reading your review, I really want to pick it up because I love historical fiction and it sounds wonderful, even if it does start slow. Great review!

  7. Yay!!! I’m so happy you liked it. AND KISS ME HARDY. Oh. My heart. I gave a sweeping recommendation for this as wel. It’s that good, as you know. Wein did a fantastic job writing this. Imagine how much preplanning she had to do for all the twists and turns!

  8. Alright. I’ll put this on my list. Lol.

  9. I really want to read this but I’m glad to know that it needs persevering with as it looks like it gets better and better!

  10. I just picked this one up from the library. I can’t wait to dive into it.

  11. Just read this for our Toronto FYA Book Club, and it was INCREDIBLE. SO brilliant, so clever, so amazing. I didn’t cry at “Kiss Me Hardy”, but I did gasp, and then tear up at the end.

    I love how you described the beginning as running in a swimming pool – that’s kind of how I felt with all of the aviation stuff. But I totally got into it. And yeah, I’m totally shoving this book into the hands of everyone I know.

  12. what more can I say apart from DITTO. DITTO. DITTOOOOOOOOOOO. it changes you this book, it really does.

  13. Like you, I struggled with Code Name Verity at the beginning. I found her voice grating and the storytelling a bit odd. Ultimately, I was very glad I did not DNF. Still, for some reason, much as I admire the book’s daring and technical accomplishments, I didn’t fall in love with it the way you and so many others did. Solid four, but I didn’t ever quite jive with the characters. Oh well, it happens! Anyway, I’m so glad that you loved it and had such a positive experience.

  14. I do not like historical fiction at all. But there’s just something about your review that really makes me want to read it, so I’m going to give it a try 🙂 great review btw

  15. I understand why this book would make some wish it weren’t marketed as YA, but I take the opposite view: the fact that THIS is a great example of YA is exactly why it’s so ridiculous for people to avoid the genre, and the more we can do to raise awareness of the variety of YA, the better. (And yay for Code Name Verity being named a Printz Honor Book!)

    • TOTALLY agree with this! I just wish that some of my friends who I KNOW would enjoy this book would not see the YA label and read it and THEN realize it was YA and then not give me such crap for reading YA lol. Totally and 100% agree with your point!

  16. I’m so happy you loved this book. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone who didn’t like this book. It does take some time to get into but I loved staying with it and when I got to the second half I was in love. This is one that even adult readers will love!

  17. *clasps hand over heart* THIS BOOK!

    I’m with you. I kind wish it wasn’t labelled YA because I keep trying to recommend it to people and sometimes that YA label is a roadblock (unfortunately). But it is truly amazing. Great review!

  18. Everyone’ s raving about this book, I feel like I must drop everything and read this one NOW! 🙂

  19. So glad you loved it! I admit that the disjointed style had me a little wary in the beginning, but I quickly realized that it was so perfect for Verity’s POV. Everything about this book is amazing. I was so impressed by it, and I agree that everyone should read it, no matter what! It’s one of those books that I always put at the top of lists of “YA books for people who don’t read YA.” And now that it received a Printz Honor award, hopefully more people will discover it and love it too. 🙂
    Kiss me, Hardy! Gah, so many feels.

  20. This is such a wonderfully written, compelling story. Sure, it’s a slow start, but it definitely gets SO GOOD once you hit a certain point. I’m super glad Elena practically shoved this one into my hands and bugged me to read it – it ended up being a favorite of 2012!

  21. Yay, so glad you liked it! I felt very similarly – in fact, in my review I also stated how unfortunate it is that it’s labeled as YA fiction; not only are the protagonists older teens, but it’s a book that adult fiction lovers would also love. Like you said, I’m also planning on forcing friends and adult fiction lovers to give this book a chance. It is truly a phenomenal piece of work. 🙂

  22. Oh yes, my eyes get wet when I see KISS ME HARDY! I just finished this yesterday, and I adored it. I’d also recommend it for anyone (anyone age appropriate, that is – I don’t think 8 year olds should necessarily be reading this). Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  23. YA for adults… This year’s The Fault In Our Stars?

  24. I have a high tolerance for slow-starting books, so the beginning didn’t really put me off. I wasn’t immediately gripped, but I found it interesting and not as hard to get into as I’d expected, given the reviews I’d read where people said they found there was too much aviation stuff. Maybe the expectation for something difficult made the actuality less difficult? In any case, I do see why it’s hard for people to get into and I do agree that the beginning is kind of slow.

    But, YES the pay off is so worth it. The more I read, the more sucked in I was and the more I wondered how everything would play out. This book was so well crafted and brilliant, and even now, months after I’ve read it, I can’t stop gushing about it! When I finished it, I knew it was going to be one of my all-time favorites as well. I went into this book with ambivalent expectations and came out of it completely blown away. I’m so glad you loved it too!

  25. I fell in love with this book. Like you, I had a difficult time getting into it at first, but boy oh boy was it worth it. It was so, so worth it. I literally gasped and was in shock at the Kiss Me, Hardy part. It was just so, so well done. I really want to reread it sometime soon, because it’s difficult to get it all the first time. So much of it is still vivid in my mind even though I haven’t read it since June, and that doesn’t happen very often.

  26. I can’t decide if I want to read this one or not. I don’t typically love WWII fiction, but I LOVED The Book Thief because that was SO MUCH MORE than WWII fiction, and since you recommended it for fans of that book it’s warmed me up a bit. Everyone seems to love it, and the last time I kept pushing away a book everyone loved(ahem, Cinder), I regretted not reading it sooner, so maybe I’ll trust the popular opinion on this one.

  27. I am SO glad you mentioned that it’s a slow starter. I’m always more lenient if I’ve been warned that I’ll need to stick it through.

    Marissa @ Rae Gun Ramblings

  28. YESSSSS to all of this! ALL OF THIS! I think everyone pretty much knows my feelings about this book by now (ha!) so I won’t repeat them. BUT YAY I AM SO GLAD YOU READ THIS AND LOVED THIS AND now excuse me, going to cry because you mentioned “Kiss me, Hardy.”

  29. Oh my gosh I’m so afraid of this book! The build-up is soooo huge and I don’t love historical fiction but the pressure to love it is WAY INTENSE. But your recommendations are always stellar and yet still I’m afraid. I even have it and have had it forever, but I have NEVER ONCE OPENED IT. Never.

  30. I also found it hard to get into but once I got into it I couldn’t put it down. It was so cleverly done that the twists left me with my jaw hanging open. I have been recommending this to practically everyone 😀

  31. I love WWII literature, as well. I picked this as one of my books for my YA materials class. I expect it will be awesome homework.

  32. I finally succumbed to pressure and bought a copy at ALA. It helps that it was only $5 😛 Someone might still have to shove it in my hands, though because historical WWII stuff is not generally my thing.

  33. Oh Jamie. You know I love this book and this review! I totally agree about this being the kind of book that really doesn’t need the YA label – and it being the kind that you wish more people would read. I just think it’s a wonderful read! When I read it, I did think that it wouldn’t necessarily be a book everyone would love. I think it DESERVES for everyone to love it, but I have lot of friends who aren’t huge readers and would find it hard to get into this book. It’s worth it in the end – but it is hard to get into at first! By the end, you’re just completely and totally in love (but I know people who wouldn’t be able to get to the end – sad for them because they’re missing out). Anyway, love this!

  34. I love that you put these characters on your best BFFs list. I have wanted to read this series. I love Historical Fiction and this seems like such a great twist on the WWII stories.

  35. Right?! *sigh* Amazing, splendid, fantastic book! I listened to it as an audiobook and loved learning how the author was inspired by real events in WWII. A few weeks after I’d listened to the story, I saw an article on Mighty Girl’s web site about the women pilots in Russia who actually fought in combat. I’m still in awe!

  36. Cali W. says:

    Good review. I have been thinking about reading this book when I saw it in the library. 😉

  37. It took me a few days to recover from this book. I immediately picked up Rose Under Fire and kept crying through the first few chapters. I agree- Code Name Verity is the best.

    • Embarrassing thing: I STILL HAVE NO READ ROSE UNDER FIRE. I KNOW I KNOW. It wasn’t out yet and I anticipated it sooooo much and then I put it off and there it still sits on my shelf. You just seriously lit a fire under my butt to read it now!


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  4. Top Ten says:

    […] Code Name Verity by Elizbeth Wein – One of my favorite books this year and I think it would make an AMAZING movie. I can’t even imagine how hard I would bawl when KISS ME HARDY was uttered. […]

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  6. […] Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: This book is one of my all time favorites. Despite the amazing story itself, I loved learning about how important female pilots were in the war. It was really inspiring and these woman were kickass. This look would be easy to put together with a bomber jacket, aviator inspired hat, scarf and some sort of goggles. Totally wearable pieces on a normal day! […]

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