Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...
Required Reading: Your life will be meaningless if you haven't read these superstars of literature. See More...

Code Name Amazing

Climb aboard Code Name Verity and prepare for the flight of your literary life.

Code Name Amazing

BOOK REPORT for Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Cover Story: Legit
BFF Charm: Platinum Edition! 
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Confessional
Bonus Factors: Historical Fiction, Feminism
Relationship Status: The Wind Beneath My Wings

Cover Story: Legit

I love it when a cover image is simple yet manages to speak volumes about the story. With one glance, you can tell that this book is about friendship, imprisonment and some kind of written letter. You know, as opposed to everything else on the YA shelves, which seems to be about girls in ballgowns running away from a mysterious fog. And, look, I'm no designer, but how hard was it to make this cover? I mean, it's just as easy to take a picture of hands with rope around them as it is a photo of a girl wearing too much eyeliner and looking angsty. So WHY DON'T WE SEE MORE COVERS LIKE THIS? INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW.

The Deal:

It's 1943, and Agent Verity is wasting away in a Gestapo prison. In return for a brief extension of her life, she's been given paper and a pencil to write the story of what she was doing in Nazi-occupied France. The German officials want military info like airfield locations and aircraft descriptions, but what Verity gives them instead is the stirring tale of her friendship with Maddie, the British female pilot who dropped her off on this last mission before her plane crashed to the ground. Written on recipe cards, sheet music and any paper Verity can find, she gives us a glimpse of life during wartime and the extraordinary measures that she and Maddie have taken to serve their country.

BFF Charm:  Platinum Edition! 

Anyone who reads this book and DOESN'T want to be BFF with Maddie and Verity is like, Voldemort or something. These two gals are INCREDIBLE, and their contrasting personalities make them a dynamic team. Maddie is a daredevil in the air (but kind of a scaredy cat on the ground), and her ambition to be a female pilot, in spite of the gender inequality of the time, is awesome. She's the warm, stable foundation of the friendship, with Verity adding the glamor, intellect and slight insanity. Verity is a total BAMF, and with her beauty and confidence, it's easy to see why she's a successful spy. The one quality the girls have in common is courage, and my heart burst with pride and love so much during this book, I think I need to sign up for the donor list. These ladies are LEAGUES above me in nobility and valor, so much so that I fear I don't deserve to share a BFF charm with them. But if I could just pull up a chair and listen to their stories while sipping cognac, I would be honored.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

This isn't a kissing book, because Maddie and Verity are too busy being total badasses to care about stupid boys. However, Verity's brother Jamie is absolutely enchanting, and there were definitely some sparks between him and Maddie. Did I mention that Jamie is a fearless pilot who lives in a Scottish castle, wears kilts and takes care of orphaned boys? YES PLEASE.

Talky Talk: Confessional

The first half of the book is written by Verity within the cruel confines of her prison (which is actually a repurposed fancy hotel). I won't tell you what makes up the other half of the book, because I don't want to spoil it for you, but I can tell you that Elizabeth Wein deftly paints a picture of Verity's memories, from a bombing in an airfield to the night sky as she flew on her last mission with Maddie. Even though she knows that the Gestapo will read her words, Verity pours her heart into the pages, and her love for Maddie is both inspiring and heartbreaking. Her voice is so real, so spirited, that I wanted to break into that prison myself and free her from the endless torture. Wein builds an insane level of tension by layering Verity's flashbacks with her current situation, resulting in a book that is both emotionally rich and action-packed.

Bonus Factor: Historical Fiction

Historical fiction is definitely one of our milk carton qualities, and it was thrilling to read about two heroines fighting in a war that actually happened, as opposed to a battle in some futuristic dystopian world. It's obvious that Wein did her research (plus she's a pilot!) to craft a story that truly made history come to life. I was fascinated by the small details, like clothing vouchers and hairpins, while the violence and tragedy of World War Two felt almost too real for me to handle.

Bonus Factor: Feminism

It was definitely common during wartime for women to do men's jobs, since all of the able-bodied men had been shipped out. But it was definitely not common for women to fly planes, and yet Maddie perseveres and fights to make her passion a reality. Both she and Verity deal with discrimination (which is sadly normal for them), and time and time again, they prove themselves just as capable as their male counterparts, if not more so. You better believe I cued up "Sister Suffragrette" and did quite a few fist pumps in their honor.

Casting Call:

Jennifer Lawrence as Maddie

I know I should've picked an actress who is British, but I couldn't help but picture J-Law (with her Katniss-style dark hair) as the loyal, determined Maddie.

Jane Levy as Verity

Jane would also need to dye her hair (blonde), but she's got the delicate features and surprising ferocity of Verity. Hopefully she can nail a Scottish accent.

p.s. Hollywood, this book would definitely make an awesome movie. But if you eff it up, I WILL CUT YOU.

Relationship Status: The Wind Beneath My Wings

This book. THIS BOOK!!!!! This book is my hero. It's everything I wish I could be. This book made fly higher than an eagle, and it also made me CRY MY EYES OUT. I'm both haunted and inspired by the friendship of Maddie and Verity, and I know their story will remain with me for a long time. We're bonded, this book and I, and I am deeply grateful that we met. In fact, I feel as close to this book as Verity did to Maddie, and our friendship, like theirs, seems destined.

But if she hadn't been such a cracking radio operator and been promoted so quickly, it's not likely we'd have become friends even in wartime, because British officers don't mingle with the Lower Ranks. (I don't believe it for a minute-- that we wouldn't have become friends somehow-- that an unexploded bomb wouldn't have gone off and blown us into the same crater, or that God himself wouldn't have come along and knocked our heads together in a flash of green sunlight. But it wouldn't have been likely.)

I am so very thankful that I landed in the same crater as this book, and I hope the same happens to you, in a flash of green sunlight.

Code Name Verity is the FYA Book Club selection for January 2013!

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).