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Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein

The synopsis of this book didn't really intrigue me. I wouldn't have read it if it hadn't been recommended to me by a friend. I'm sorry to say I didn't end up liking it. Also, I just happened to read this at the same time as I was reading another book set in Nazi-occupied France (Sarah's Key). Weird coincidence.

The first part of the book is 203 pages and I was not buying it. The main character is a British spy who has been captured by the Nazis and is tortured until she agrees to give up everything she knows. She is then allowed to write a memoir in the process(???). Pages and pages of fluff that have nothing to do with anything. There's no way the Nazis would have put up with that waste of time. It straight-up confused me at times, as it seemed more like a diary than a confession and I thought that maybe my problem was that I was having trouble differentiating between what she was thinking and what she was actually writing for them. But no, I'm pretty sure she was supposed to have written that entire first part for the Nazis. I just couldn't believe it, and therefore, I couldn't get into the story. What's funny is that in the "Author's Debriefing", Wein said over and over that she wanted everything to be plausible and implausibility is exactly why I didn't like the book.

For the record, I did consider pretty early on the possibility that Julie is lying and not actually revealing any information to the Nazis, and I kept that in mind while I was reading. She was supposedly giving away information that would cause the deaths of countless people, so she acted ashamed of herself every once in a while, understandably. But at the same time, the way she described herself in her memoir was so cocky. It made no sense, further supporting my belief that she was BS-ing the info.

If there had been more mention of her torture, I might have believed her willingness to betray her country. If there had been more impatience from the Nazis, I might have believed her ability to write a book in order to stall for time. As it was, I was too distracted by the implausibility to enjoy the book.

Speaking of time, it seemed like she was held for a really long time and I wondered how the Nazis didn't realize at some point that she was feeding them false information. Ultimately, it's supposed to have been two weeks, if I remember correctly, so that's slightly more believable. But still, she seemed too unfazed to have been suffering torture for days.

Side note: Julie was captured because she looked the wrong way crossing the street, which seemed sketchy to me except that Wein said that actually happened to someone. How many times did I hear "Look both ways before you cross the street." when I was a growing up? Both ways. Were they not taught that back in the 1920s/30s?

Anyway, then comes the second part. I actually liked this part, so it made me angry.

I was slightly confused at first because I wasn't sure where we were on the timeline of the story when part 2 began. But the plot was much better. We find out that Julie actually hadn't told the Nazis anything, Engel is actually an ally, and we move forward in the plot to Julie's assisted suicide, which I thought was well-written. Overall, I think the insight into Julie's interview was my favorite part of the book. Je cherche la vérité.

The second part is supposed to explain/validate the first, but the first part just went on for so long, and I was so distracted and annoyed by it not making sense, that the second part can't possibly make up for it.

In addition to all that, throughout the whole book, the plane-talk (which I realize is the inspiration for the book) bored me. It wasn't continual, but it was too often to not affect my opinion of Code Name Verity. And I was often wondering how old the main characters are. Am I supposed to know? They seem like teenagers to me, but realistically, they have to be adults, right? Or older teens who have lied about their ages...

Anyway, to conclude this rant... ultimately, I like the plot a lot, but the execution of it was poor.