Friday, September 20, 2013

Reading Journal: Code Name Verity by Rose Wein

Book Description:
Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.  
When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.  
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
My thoughts:
I picked up Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein after reading several reviews that gave it high praise. I am always up for a good story about World War II and friendship. Needless, to say I was very disappointed in this story.

Be warned--spoilers ahead.

This story is told in two parts. It first focuses on Verity after she is arrested as a spy and what she is doing to survive. In an attempt to save her life, Verity is writing out her story and giving codes to the Gestapo. She is also being tortured and living in horrific conditions.

I know that a person that was in the hands of the Gestapo experienced unthinkable and inhumane torture, but I just couldn't like Verity or feel any sympathy for her. Her thoughts and language was just vulgar. It seemed like every page had language that just made me cringe. Honestly, this story could have been told successfully without the added language.

Then the second part of the book focuses on Maddie's story and how she hides out with the Resistance to help find Verity and how she makes it back to England. In an attempt to rescue Verity, Maddie ends up shooting Verity to save her from the Nazi soldiers who are going to shoot out her knees and elbows.

Now I understand this situation would fall under a case of situational ethics, but in my heart I can't see how this makes for the ultimate friendship. I just couldn't walk away from this story feeling this was an acceptable thing to do. Honestly, I don't know what I would do in that situation, but I think in the end I don't think I could kill my friend, even to save her from greater pain and suffering. I know today's worldview supports this kind of thinking, but as a Christian can I say that this lines up with what God says in the Bible? When is it murder? I could go on and on with arguments, but I won't.

My biggest problem with this book is that it is marketed for young adults. How sad that young adults have to read books that really have no hope and aren't redeeming. I have no problem handing my young adult The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, but I won't be handing my young adults Code Name Verity .

I have struggled in writing this review since I know everyone has a personal line of what is acceptable and non-acceptable in their reading preferences. I know this book does a good job of showing the humans at their worst and what a life without God looks like, but even with this portrayal I can't find a reason to give this book any kind of recommendation. As I was reading Philippians 4:8 kept going around in my mind:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

On a side note:
While I was reading this book I happened to be talking about this book to a friend and she mentioned an article from the Hillsdale College newsletter, Imprimis, by Meghan Cox Gurdon. I encourage you to head over and read "The Case for Good Taste in Children's Books", because she sums it up so much better than I can about the importance of good taste and beauty in literature for children and young adults. (I do want to mention the books she uses for illustrations are far worse than any of the circumstances in Code Name Verity , but I think a lot of what she says applies.)

I am linking up over at:


  1. I have been interested in this book because of it's WWII theme, but didn't know much about it. Thanks to your review I'll be steering clear of it.

  2. This sounded so exciting at first, but the problems you has with it I would have, too, so I don't think I'll be reading it either.



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