The best word I can think of it to describe Code Name Verity is: layered.
I know several people who loved this book from the beginning, so imagine how I felt when it took me a while to get into it. I felt alarmed, actually. I had just felt let-down by These Broken Stars (which I didn’t hate, but didn’t love either) and thought a well-loved WWII book was exactly what I needed. I was confused by the narration, as “Verity” wrote about her friend Maddie and her perspective, about things Maddie did when she wasn’t with her, and even giving names of people she doesn’t know and recording conversation. Was she really writing all this down? Why? How does she know all this? I was so distracted by it all. And then we read an exchange between two people working at the prison she’s at, one who explains to the other – and to me as well – how and why Verity is writing her account as she was.
So finally, something seemed to click for me. I still wasn’t falling in love with the narrative right away, or even Verity, but over time, I started to care a little more and more. Then I remember getting to the end of Part One, where we see a note about Verity’s fate –
WAIT?! That’s all you’re giving me! I wanted to scream. I could not believe it was the end of her story. Or so it seemed. So I started Part Two, where we get Maddie’s account.
And then things really started to click.
I could also relate to Maddie more. I’m not sure if it was because of her personality, because we already knew so much about her from Verity, or a combination of the two (that’s what I’m leaning towards), but Part Two was really when the story came alive for me. Maddie put together pieces from Verity’s initial story that you didn’t even know were missing. Everything suddenly had a double meaning. I was finally realized there was so much more to the story than met the eye.
I thought the novel ended perfectly, but I really wanted more about Maddie, and Jamie! Even though we don’t see a lot of him, I really liked him a lot and would love to read a book from his perspective! And even though it was so subtle, I loved the blooming relationship between them.
At the end, I was almost emotional. I actually had a hard time emotionally connecting with Verity, but Maddie connected enough dots for me to feel more engaged with both of them. Even still, I still felt a little more emotionally distant than I would have liked in a story about love, war, and loss. Because of this and the slow beginning, I didn’t feel the book earned a 5, but for being so beautifully crafted in complexity (which means it will definitely need to be re-read one day), I decided to go with 4.5.
Content Advisory: Moderate language, including a couple of f-bombs. Torture is described somewhat but not in great detail. There is mention of rape and other sexual activities but nothing gratuitous.