Sonderbooks Stand-out

Sonderbooks Book Review of

Code Name Verity

by Elizabeth Wein

read by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell


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Code Name Verity

by Elizabeth Wein
read by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell

Review posted January 2, 2013.
Bolinda Audio, 2012. Unabridged. 10 hours 9 minutes on 9 compact discs.
Starred Review
2012 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book
2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #1 Teen Fiction

In my mind, Code Name Verity is easily the best book written in 2012. It's not a pleasant story. It's not even a happy story. But Wow! It blows you away.

I'm already thinking about how to booktalk the book. Spies. The Resistance. A British pilot stranded in France during World War II. Nazi interrogators. Think that will do it? It's also a book about friendship.

I already reviewed the print version of the book, which I devoured as soon as it arrived via Amazon. But as soon as I finished, I knew I'd want to read it again. There are lots of things in the second part referred to in the beginning part, and I wanted to see if I would have a new perspective having already finished the book. Besides, I wanted to enjoy it again! So when the audio version was nominated for Capitol Choices, that seemed like a good excuse to reread the book in a different format.

And, Wow! Okay, I realize I'm not being even slightly eloquent. Let me simply say that this is an outstanding audio production of an outstanding story. They got someone from Scotland to read Julie's parts, and someone from England to read Maddie's. And they were magnificent. It felt like I was really listening to the two friends talking about their wartime service and their friendship.

I still love this passage. I almost burst out crying in the car when it came up in the audiobook:

Then she hitched up her hair to its two-inch above-the-collar regulation point, swabbed her own tears and the grease and the concrete dust and the gunner's blood from her cheeks with the back of her hand, and she was off running again, like the Red Queen.

It's like being in love, discovering your best friend.

I wouldn't have thought there was a way to improve this book. But listening to Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell made me feel like I was listening to Julie and Maddie tell me their thoughts.

Now, I suppose I should add that there's torture that happens in this book. It's set during wartime, and it isn't pretty. Julie and Maddie are adults, young ones, yes, but adults serving during wartime. So although Code Name Verity is published as a young adult book, "old" adults won't feel the least bit like the book is too young for them. And this isn't a YA book I'd want to give to the youngest teens, because the subject matter is deadly serious. This audiobook is wonderful for listening in the car, but I wouldn't call it a "family" audiobook if there are young kids around.

But Wow. Code Name Verity is a story of wartime, yes, but it's a beautiful one. The story of the friendship, of these amazing young women, far outshines the ugly details of wartime.