With her latest novel, Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein pushes the limits of the YA genre. The novelâ€™s protagonists are young adults, yes, but its contentâ€”graphic torture, Nazi interrogation, mercy killingsâ€”paints the landscape of a brutal world, far from the dreams of children. Save for the typically large YA font size, Elizabeth Weinâ€™s tightly paced, intricately researched WWII novel, bordering on historical fiction, hardly hints at its intended YA demographic.
When best friends Maddie, a female pilot, and Julie, a female spy (the titular â€śVerityâ€ť), crash their British plane into Nazi-occupied France, the drama begins. Captured by Gestapo officials, Julie is given two weeks to write â€śevery last detailâ€ť of what she knows about the British war effort, the threat of execution looming large on the horizon. But remember, Julie is a spy, trained for this type of situation.
As she bleeds her history onto scraps of paper, she weaves a fascinating and complex storyâ€”not only about the war, but about her life, Maddieâ€™s life, and the fierce strength of their friendship, forged at a time of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. â€śWe made a sensational team,â€ť she writes, and we instinctively believe her, well before reaching the payoff at the end of the book.
Code Name Verity is not an easy novel, but it is a beautiful written, worthwhile journey for a more mature audience. Although its protagonists may exist at the cusp of adulthood, their struggles, tragedies, and unexpected triumphs exist well outside the traditional boundaries of the genre. Wein is a masterful storyteller, and Code Name Verity is a story that deserves reading.
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