Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein

Mostly I enjoyed this book, and found it touching in parts. But I didn't like it as much as I thought I'd do.

Although writing a proper review about it without spoiling is a little bit hard, what I can say is that the "report" format didn't work too well for me. It wasn't bad per se, only it kept nagging me, often making me question whether this or that character would really act like they did; in turn, my suspension of disbelief was also challenged, and I don't enjoy it happening. Mainly, would a Nazi officer really let a prisoner write a manuscript as long as Verity's, considering that it was basically filled with very little information? Would any officer in any war do that, allowing a prisoner to toy with them by giving out intelligence morsel by morsel, through a literary piece of work? Such a deal would be understandable, sure, but only if there was more meat to it (and by meat, I mean information relevant to the Nazis).


So Verity writes about the kind of British planes she knows, gives a few flight hours and airport names, and so on; I half-expected von Linden to barge in and say "this is drivel, give me more", and I don't think his liking literature in general was enough of a reason to justify his letting her do it. Well, maybe it was, only then it should've been made more obvious to the reader, perhaps through another character's account? In any case, Linden's superior should logically have given me more flak than he got about that charade going on. Did they check the codes Verity gave them, or chalked them up to "already replaced by new ones"? Did Engel tamper with the translation, which may partly account for Linden's "blind eye"? Those points might have been worth developing more.

Kind of the same with Maddie's account, which could've compromised a lot of people had it been found. I would've enjoyed a "simple" first-person narrative here more than a "written" one.

(show spoiler)


On the other hand, the story was a good example of how resistance doesn't always look like it, can take many shapes and be carried in very clever ways, and how it may be found in the most unexpected places, too.

The novel didn't touch me as much as it touched other people, I suppose. Having read a lot of accounts and testimonies about the Shoah, concentration camps, and so on, I think I count among those readers whom it takes a lot to shock now. I guess it would have more impact on an audience younger than I, hasn't read as much about the WWII period, and hasn't erected emotional shields yet. (Because you definitely need those when it comes to studying about interrogation, camps, torture, and the likes.)