Never judge a book by its cover or by the blurb alone. However I already knew the second I saw this book that it would be one of my favourites on the Carnegie Medal Shortlist 2013. I’m a sucker for a war story.
Code Name Verity begins from the perspective of Julie, although we don’t learn her name until much later in the novel. Julie has been captured by the Gestapo in France; she made the fatal mistake of looking the wrong way before crossing the road and was nearly hit by a van, which instantly reminded me of the scene in The Great Escape where the escapees respond to the Nazis in English thus giving themselves away. Julie is well aware that she doesn’t have long to live and is prolonging her life by telling the Gestapo all that she knows about the British War Effort. She has been tortured. She has been bribed. She promises she is telling the truth.
Julie was flown into France by her best friend, Maddie, who had to crash land her plane after they were hit on the way into the country. Throughout her writing we learn a lot about Maddie’s life and now her Julie became such good friends despite coming from entirely opposite backgrounds; one is a Scottish aristocrat and the other a Jewish girl raised by Grandparents who own a motorbike shop in the North of England. We switch to Maddie’s story when Julie is coming to the end of her narrative and paper supply and it is here that the major plot twists of the novel occur.
The Guardian are quoted on the back of the book cover saying that Code Name Verity is a ‘female adventure story’ and I certainly agree with this. I felt a slight lull in the story about half way through Julie’s story, but her story is vital to the twists and turns offered in Maddie’s narrative and made the novel what it was; an exciting, thrilling female adventure story. I loved how all the loose ends were tied up and brought together in an unexpected way and I found myself unable to put it down during the final pages (although I had to to liberate a spider from my housemate’s bedroom, or should that be the other way round?).
Now I have finished it I am keen to do some research into the Nazi Occupation of France as it is something I know little about. I am also pretty interested in finding out more about female pilots and double agents as I imagine it will make for some exciting reading. Too often we forget about the work women did in the military during both wars and I love the untold stories. I also have a bit of a craving for an Operation Mincemeat style spy story. I do love it when I am inspired to read and discover more from just one book I have enjoyed.
Code Name Verity is the fifth book I have read from the 2013 Carnegie Medal Shortlist. It is my favourite one so far but mainly because I love war stories in general so this was always going to be an enjoyable read for me. Do I think it is a winner? That is a tough question. For me so far it is, however I am bias due to my preference of the genre. If I was to take my personal view out of it, I think Wonder is still the most likely winner at the moment due to the topic that is the focus of the narrative. Code Name Verity is definitely my favourite so I’ll keep my fingers crossed for it!