Code Name 'Verity'
Elizabeth Wein




Two young women become unlikely best friends during WWII, until one is captured by the Gestapo. Only in wartime could a stalwart lass from Manchester rub shoulders with a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a special operations executive. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted to each other. But then a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France. She is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war.
The story begins in "Verity's" own words, as she writes her account for her captors. Truth or lies? Honour or betrayal? Everything they've ever believed in is put to the test...


A fiendishly plotted mind game of a novel, the kind you have to read twice. (New York Times)
Code Name Verity is unlike any book I've ever read before. A good book is one I enjoy as I'm reading it. A great book is one that will stick with me and, in ways, haunt me. This is a great book. (dearauthor.com)
Alex, from University College School London

Depressing, isn't it? Yet when I picked up the book, I was hooked from the first line I read. Code Name ‘Verity’ is of the historical fiction genre, a type of read I would never chose under normal circumstances (but I still did not have a choice in the matter: grumble grumble), yet the blurb had me gripped the moment I read it, and I couldn't help but give the book a try (because I would be killed) and I am so glad I did!

In 1943 Nazi-occupied France, a British spy plane crashes. On board are two friends, a pilot and a spy. The spy is captured by Nazi authorities, detained in a former hotel, and forced to write a confession detailing the British war effort. For the duration of her confession she tells the story of her friendship with Maddie and the story that brought her to France in the first place.

During this all things about the British attacks were revealed for the cost of us learning about her best friend Maddie (whom, did I mention, was the pilot).

Overall this book was quite fresh to me, it felt like a breeze; however the plot itself was strange and gripped me, so in essence I would say this was a great book. I would recommend this book to a person that is looking for a fictional World War 2 novel with a great storyline.

Amira, from Wren Academy Barnet

Code Name Verity, written by Elizabeth Wein, is a thought-provoking book set in World War II. It revolves around two of the few women working as agents and pilots in the war. The book is split into two parts; it begins from the point of view of ‘Verity’ (we do not learn her real name until later in the book) - a Scottish agent being held captive and under interrogation by the Nazis. We read of the tales that Verity is forced to write down while a prisoner - stories of the early days of the war and how she came to meet female pilot Maddie.

Around half-way through the book, the story changes to Maddie’s (who we already know a lot about from Verity’s confession) point of view, which allows the reader to dig even deeper into what went on during the war.

I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would - as novels set in war time are not the sort of thing I would normally read. I found the characters brave, kind and courageous and took delight in reading about them. Code Name Verity is funny but yet heartbreaking all at the same time - and I loved the bittersweet ending. I would definitely recommend this novel!

Bea, from Wren Academy Barnet

Code Name ‘Verity’ surprised me. I had been expecting a more bog-standard, first person narrative ‘My Story’ type book, that goes on and on about the terrible lives of spies and soldiers during World War Two. What I got was an interesting, gripping book with a brilliant plot and great characters. Despite its first person narrative, which would have instantly put me off almost any other book, it manages to tell a brilliant story in an unusual way.

The first part of the book is written as a report by a spy, one of two women caught in a plane crash. She has been forced to write down a report of everything she knows about the British war effort in order to escape torture. Guns, Soldiers, Plans. Although her betrayal of her country marks her out as a coward, her narration during the book portrays her as anything but!

The storyline is yet another part of the book that surprised me. Instead of the normal ‘At the end I will survive or I will escape’ plot, you are told that the narrator will be shot at the end no matter what. Although this is depressing, it adds a great twist and uniqueness to the story.

Despite the historical inaccuracy of the book, the language and structure used make the book totally believable, an all-round brilliant read that I would recommend to teenagers and adults alike!

Belle, from Wren Academy Barnet

Code Name ‘Verity’ is very good but can sometimes be a bit hard to read if you don’t know much about planes and the war. It’s quite a powerful book and sometimes too powerful. I wouldn’t advise it for anyone younger than 11 or 12. It has some distressing scenes and some powerful language that really make it a very dramatic book. The story is told elegantly and also educates you about the British war effort. It also tells you a lot about what it would have been like to be a prisoner. With twists around every corner this is a real must read. 

Chris, from University College School London

Code Name ‘Verity’ is a book about an espionage mission carried out in German occupied France in World War Two. The book is about two teenage girls that crashed into France. One girl was rescued by the resistance and the other girl was captured by the Gestapo. Although, horribly, the author does not reveal which girl is which until the very last pages of the book. The author painstakingly tells us of each of their families and how they hope they will come home and all the rest of it while writing of how one girl is being tortured by a disgusting specimen of a Gestapo investigator called SS Haupstormfurher Von Lyndon. The only good news is that the girl refused to talk and threw hot water in his face. The other girl was rescued by the Resistance at the scene of the crash. Girl number one was being tortured because the Germans wanted launch codes and wireless codes for British airbases. Sadly, we find out that she gave in because they tortured her too much. Her reward? A few more weeks of life and a painless execution. Aren’t the Germans too kind? You are probably thinking what happens at the end? That is for me to know and for you to find out!

This book is a gripping tale of survival and hope and I rate this book 4 stars. When you get the book, make sure you are stocked up on Kleenex because the book is really sad.

Daniella, from St James Catholic High School

This is an exhilarating novel, about friendship, war and betrayal. Verity is a pilot, and has to go undercover to rescue her friend from the Nazis, who abducted her. Verity has to overcome her qualms in order to save her friend, and has to come face to face with callous and hard-hearted Nazi officers. One thing I’m bewildered about is why...

It is a very historical tale, but it’s an admirable book and I would love to read it again.

Ebony, from Wren Academy Barnet

I think Code Name Verity is an excellent book because it is very emotional and jammed packed with lots of action. The main storyline of this book is when a girl is taken prisoner is forced to write about life before she ended up in prison. It revolves around war and has a upsetting but powerful ending.

One of the reasons I love it is because it has a moral (meaning) to it that makes the reader think, empathise and question in their minds - trying to make links with the different hints that the author writes of what might happen in the future. If you are a type of person who evaluates, factual, historic or you just love action then this is the book for you.

I think it is only suitable for teens because war is a very upsetting subject that younger ones may not just find upsetting but confusing as well. Also it has got teenage characters in it.

Gabe, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Out of all the books I read this was my least favourite. The storyline was not that interesting for someone my age as it was confusing and hard to follow. I found it hard to feel sorry for the characters as the book failed to interest me. 

The book is about a Scottish intelligence agent who is being interrogated by the Germans and is cooperating. She tells her story on paper in great detail and quarrels regularly with her tormentor.  She sees many others around her die but will she?  Read it to find out. 

Unfortunately I would not recommend this book - Book rating 5/10  

George, from University College School London

Verity is a WW2 fictional novel about a girl called ‘Queenie’(or so she says, when she recalls her childhood leading up to the war in the third person) and her best friend Maddie. The book has a good story line but to be quite frank the author Elizabeth Wein struggles to get the plot across. Furthermore, it is not my cup of tea as I find it extremely repetitive book, with each chapter being a little story about her and her pilot friend Maddie’s adventures just before the war. The book, in my opinion, is a bit like clay (crumbly and then hard) because the book lacks a plot and it is very hard to get into the book as you get the distinct impression that you have re-read the same chapter billions of times over (for all I know, I might of done).

Also the main character, calls herself a sensational team (her and Maddie) and yet she got caught by the Gestapo as soon as she landed in Germany occupied France. Brilliant. The way the character presents her-self sort of replicates the book; it has the potential to be sensational but instead it is dire. I am never going to be getting those hours I spent reading it back! I didn’t even manage to finish the book because it was such a dismal book. To conclude, I would thoroughly NOT recommend reading this book.

Julius, from University College School London

The story starts with Julie, a captured spy, being interrogated by Gestapo officers. About half way through the story there is a sudden plot twist which turns it from the bland accounts of a young girl to an interesting and eventful spy story. But this is one of my biggest problems with the book. Although twists in plot are a clever way to tell a story, if you spend the entire first half of the book, both bored and disliking the main character, who is presented as a pathetic and cowardly traitor, then it is hard to say that you enjoyed the book that much overall , independently of what the book turns into later on.

The second part of the story was a bit more interesting, but this did not overshadow the boring first half and slightly hollow ending.

Kirijana, from Copthall School, Barnet

Code Name ‘Verity’ was extraordinary and an historically written novel.  I particularly like the repetition of ‘Kiss me Hardy’ – it created a bit of humour, but mostly many tragic events.  I also liked the fact about all the characters having different personalities and going through many different situations.

Out of all the characters I adored Julie, as she risked her own life to save her friend’s cover.  She had a variety of different names including the name Verity.  It was a shame how Von Linden treated her as a slave, but she managed to cope with it.  

However, I disliked the pace of the novel.  It was at a slow pace although it built up in part two.  In my opinion, the first half of the novel would have been more gripping if there were more action and a bit of humour in it.

The author herself has used many different techniques compared to other authors.  What mainly stood out was the use of her grammar as she wrote in two different points of view in first, second and third person.

Overall the book is great to read.  I would recommend this book to older readers as it is hard to understand and complex.  Out of ten, I would give eight.  It’s a book that exaggerates emotions and feelings.

Lily, from East Barnet School

Code Name Verity is a book about two young women who make an unlikely friendship and how they suffer and find rare moments of happiness in World War II. The story is written by a prisoner-of war who has given way under torture and is now writing everything she knows about the British war effort. In the second part the writer switches to a young pilot who has crash-landed in France, she is being hidden by the Resistance. She recounts her time there in her pilot’s notes. The two tales link to reveal a sad but amazing story.

I thought this book was superb and well-written, however I found the beginning quite difficult and not as interesting as the rest of the book. The second part was better, I thought because the first part started to make more sense and show what the prisoner-of-war was too modest to write about.

I would recommend Code Name Verity to people interested in World War II, and like adventure. This book shows the hardships of war and to what lengths people go to protect their friends, family and country. Anyone who reads this would be touched by the sadness and harsh reality of wartime. The book is fictional but something similar could have happened in World War I or II which makes the story so fascinating and believable.

All in all I think that Code Name Verity is a brilliant and well-written book that should be read and praised. Elizabeth Wein has written something marvellous.

Lily, from Jewish Community Secondary School

Code Name ‘Verity’, despite its interesting story line, did not live up to my expectations at all. When I first started this book I thought I would be reading a book based on history, weaved in with in-depth, believable characters. Unfortunately, I read a book with a story line that, for me, did not make sense and a selection of dry, bland characters.

Code Name ‘Verity’ was a book based on the war told from the perspective of Felix who works for the Gestapo. This book promised action, suspense and overall a novel that would suck you in from page one. This book was none of that. Instead, I found it hard to read and to concentrate on because of how un-engaging the characters were, and the out of date writing style that just, however much I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy. 

I do not recommend this book as it was quite dull and there was no clear story line.

Lydia, from Wren Academy Barnet

Code name ‘Verity’ is about a female British spy. Her plane suddenly crashes in France where all the Nazis are. 
This book is written in the first person, from the viewpoint of two different girls working for the British army in WWII. They both bonded together and so they had a long lasting friendship. One is a pilot, the other an interrogator and together they make an impressive team. The interrogator was captured by a Nazis and is now a prisoner of SS von Linden where she is being tortured! She believes she is a coward and decides to betray her country...

Verity is a strong moving book which makes you feel all types of emotions.
I believe this book is aimed at teens aged at 13-16 years old because it tells you the truth about wars and how suffocating it could be. This book has effective language and writing which makes you want to read more.

Maddy, from Wren Academy Barnet

Code Name ‘Verity’  by Elizabeth Wein was an action-packed read that at times was scary, upsetting and in even in some places humorous. At the beginning of the book I did not understand lots of the language used and I found it quite confusing, but as I read on I found that I was enraptured with the story and I shared the feelings of the different characters as they remembered their tale.

The story was told in two parts. The first part was told through the eyes of Julia who had been captured by the Gestapo Police and was forced to write everything she knew about the British War Effort. I was appalled to hear about the brutal forms of torture used by the Gestapo and the emotions of Julia were told simply and boldly.  

The second part was about Maddie, Julia’s best friend whose plane crashed in Paris. She manages to find out about Julia and joins the French Resistance so that she can try to save Julia and all other prisoners held by the Gestapo. This part is gripping and beautifully written with a shocking twist in the tail. I loved the traditional spy elements contained in this section such as code cracking, secret messages and double agents.

I learnt a lot as I read the book and I thought it was brilliantly told. It was a tale of friendship, cowardice but also bravery and I would recommend it to all 12-15 year olds.

Madushvi, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

A short way in I was a little unsure about whether this was a book that I’d enjoy or not and this feeling stayed with me throughout the first half of the book – which usually, I’d say, is a negative sign, but in the case of Code Name ‘Verity’ it intrigued me just enough to want me to go on and see whether my continuous confusion would ever resolve. The actual plot of the book is not at all complex and really quite a relaxing read, even though it is set in war-time Britain.

It was my curiosity as to what kind of atmosphere Wein was trying to set together with the riveting characteristics of the main protagonists that gave me enough impetus to read on.  In the end, as in all cleverly written novels, the stories slotted together perfectly, eliciting some oohs and aahs!

The book consists of two parts.  Both parts take different perspectives of the situation in Europe during the Second World War, but they both reflect the tightly bonded values of friendship that the book is built upon as Wein’s story revolves around the unlikely friendship of two girls during World War II.  It is the mixture of heart-wrenching events and the intense narrative that Wein manages to get down naturalistically from these two powerful protagonists that makes reading the novel so emotional, heart-rending and overall just an honour to read.

Although the book seems to be written to inspire young females (considering the constant references to well-known female icons like ’Scheherazade’), I would definitely recommend this poignant novel to anyone looking for a thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile read that definitely leaves its mark.9/10

Mayuka, from The Mount School

I think what Elizabeth Wein wanted to teach us through Code Name ‘Verity’ must be about ‘human weakness and friendship’. In the story the two main characters Maddie and Julie share their fears and overcome their fears in different ways. Some of their fears were ‘getting old’ and ‘dying’. When Julie dies, part of her remains alive inside Maddie.  It shows that by sharing our fears we can overcome them.

 

This story was also about war. Elizabeth Wein shows that wars are ugly, violent and inhuman affairs and I agree. The war doesn’t have to happen if we learn to negotiate in peace, but because we are not good at this wars still happen. What I thought was really sad about how she shows the war is that the people involved on both sides believe that they are doing the right thing. And yet how many souls are destroyed, how many hearts are broken and how many things cannot be the same as they were. Just like Maddie wrote when Julie died, ‘a part of me is broken off forever’.

 

This book means so much to me now because it has taught me about how friendship can never die.

Melis, from Wren Academy Barnet

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this powerfully compelling page-turner of a book, told from 13-year-old Kasienka’s point of view, about her trip to England from Poland to find the farther who abandoned her and her mother.

I enjoyed the lay out of this book, however it’s different to what I am normally used to – it’s laid out so a lot of thought is put on one single word, creating a lot of impact on the reader. (It certainly did on me!) I thought it was a very clever way of writing, and I might try it out in my own writing someday.

This story is told as a collection of poems, some longer than others. I think this is a very good way to show how to the protagonist feels, for example sad, angry, in love or happy. By doing this I think it makes me, as the reader, think a bit further, even though there aren’t always an awful lot of words on the page.

One of the main reasons I liked reading The Weight of Water was because of the style the story was told. It was a pleasant change from the English speaker’s view, as this person doesn’t really know much about this country.                                                                      

To conclude, I enjoyed this book’s message: when life gets tough, don’t give up. This is the sort of message I received from this tale. As I have stated before, I loved reading this story, and would recommend it to anyone willing to try a different kind of book!

Milo, from University College School London

As I first looked at the front cover of the book, with its grey and pink cover and generic lipstick stain, I thought to myself, ‘this isn’t a book I would pick out in a book store’. It’s more of a book used for stopping tables from wobbling, or maybe even a make shift coaster. A book for reading? Think again.

As I read the blurb, the first thought that crossed my mind was ‘what time is dinner tonight?’ It has the possibility to be an interesting book, but the amount of other wartime ‘girl power’ books in the teenage section at the moment is ridiculous. This book was a bit like cous cous; it is bland and boring, but everyone has it. It accompanies a more interesting main event.

I’m sure every chapter was identical. She is in a POW camp, she somehow connects an event in her life with one of her ‘boring-trying-to-be-interesting’ friends to the war effort. She then writes a bit about the prison, and then it’s the end of the chapter. It is more repetitive than the words of a McDonald employee: ‘would you like another boring book with that?’

The fact that I didn’t finish it reiterates the standard of the book. As Alan Hansen would say, ‘technically very, very poor’.

Natasha, from Wren Academy Barnet

In this book I found it okay with a number of negative points such as it has History which would help me a lot but also was a bit boring for me too as well, too much War - showing a lot of war and conflict that has taken place throughout the story, and very little comedy - such as that it should include lots of comedy, which the book portrays.

The Positive parts of the book would be that it has interesting history facts, some comedy, a lot of different aircraft that I have not heard off before and has friendship too.

In the end, overall I found it good but not great.

Nichole, from Wren Academy Barnet

A book that is enjoyable, especially if you want to learn French and the facts of the past.  After reading the book, I felt all the scenes, which happened to Julie (Verity) and Maddie (Kittyhawk), were part of me… like I was actually the main character of the plot.

I found the bond between Julie and Maddie really strong, the trust between them is really sweet. But near the end... I nearly was in tears… it was sad.  

I do prefer Julie than Maddie… even though, the impact that they commit to the reader is different.

A quote (near the end) from a sentence that really fascinated me was: “My hatred for him was pure and black”, the language is beautifully written. Not to mention: pure and hatred (black) are opposite meanings, Elizabeth Wein demonstrates the emotions to the reader really well. This sentence really stood out for me. Also, it was meant for the one who destroyed Julie and I found it touching that she said that (even if hate is a horrible sensation that you shouldn’t always have).

The code names are very unusual but awesome at the same time, especially Kittyhawk because they are both animals (quite contrary) but has a nice sound to it when you read it.

The structure of the book is really effective; I like that Julie and Maddie both have the opportunity to share their opinions and plot to the reader. Plus, the layout of the diary, in particular the one of Maddie with the first words, of a different time of the day, was written in bold and italic. It made it really effective and instantly, I knew I would like the chapter that it will become. I found it clever the codes that have been hiding in the diary of Julie (the underlined words gave hints to Maddie) and once again I mention the code names. 

I found it useful to learn some French on the way (e.g. Je sais - I know) and to learn what has happened in the past to conduct us to the days that we live in now. 

Ruby, from Jewish Community Secondary School

What makes a great book?  For me the best books draw you in on the first or second chapter.  Every time I picked up Code Name ‘Verity’ I read and waited to be drawn in. When I read my favourite book I cannot put it down, I am too absorbed by the plot, but I could not wait to put down Code Name ‘Verity’.  I turned the pages reluctantly, but eventually I realised this was not the book for me.

 I will not be biased, others may enjoy this book but I expected an exciting plot that triggered your emotions, some happy, some sad moments. I personally think that Code name ‘Verity’ had a confusing plot and I could not relate to the characters; they were dull.  There are many books set in war time, I can see the writer tried to make this one stand out but I think she tried too hard because although this book was different to any other World War 2 book that I’ve read, it was confusing and I don’t think it was well written. 

I will be happy to hear others thoughts on this book.

Samiat, from St Martin-in-the-Fields, Lambeth

The book I have been reading is Code Name ‘Verity' which is about a spy named Verity, living during WWII, being captured by the Nazis In German-occupied France and making friends with Maddie. It is unlikely that without the war their paths would have crossed coming from 2 different backgrounds but war has brought the together.

Although the book has a well written plot, showing that everything is not always as it seems, I personally I think that the book has not been written in the way that would have intrigued me and drawn me into the book wanting to know more about the characters and anticipating what will lie ahead for each character. This was probably because I thought the writers style of writing wasn't effective. Another reason for me not liking the book was because of the vast amount of characters at the beginning and the fact that the book felt like was dragging a little bit and me finding it hard to concentrate and keep track of the story didn't encourage me to want to read more.

I think that this book has also discouraged me from reading anymore of Elizabeth Wein's books as her style of writing is very boring.

Sophie, from Wren Academy Barnet

I cannot put into words how brilliant Code Name ‘Verity’ is. I love the split narrative (although it was hard to change because Verity is amazing). When I was reading Code Name ‘Verity’ I was quite disappointed that Verity and Maddie were fictional characters. 

At the beginning I loved the way Verity was confessing but going slightly off task. When Maddie’s narrative came I thought the rest of the book would be rubbish because she was shyer but it turns out she is strong in her own way.

The most poignant moment of the book is when Verity says ‘we’re a sensational team’. The reason I found this so moving was that it reveals the true meaning of the book: friendship.

I think everybody should read this sensational book.  

Yhaiisai, from Copthall School, Barnet

This story was written by Elizabeth Wein, with the genres of adventure, mystery and action.

Code Name ‘Verity’ is based on the Second World War and mainly featured two best friends:  Julia Beaufort-Stuart and Maddie Brodatt.

This book was structured in two different ways.  The first part of the book was in Julie’s point of view, whereas the second part of the book was in Maddie’s point of view.

Maddie was a pilot and Julie was an interrogator.  It was Maddie’s job to fly Julie to France, collect other spies from France and return to Britain.  But as she was flying above Francce, Maddie’s plane got shot down.  Then Julie was caught by the German Nazis. 

Maddie is determined to rescue Julie and get revenge on the Germans who caught her.  But what would she do when she has to sacrifice the life of her one and only best friend?

The part of the story that I liked the best was when Julie and Maddie were riding their bicycles and playing games together.

Overall, Code Name ‘Verity’ was an amazing novel and it especially focused on friendship.

Yumna, from Wren Academy Barnet

I found this book one of the best I've ever read! The humour created by the main character and her personality was so realistic and inspiring! At times, the book droned on about planes and war and admittedly, I found that very boring but when the unique technique of this book that switched between two stories and changed from 3rd to 1st person quite interesting! The 1st person parts were so amazing, I actually thought as if I was listening to them tell a story! All in all, I loved this book and I would recommend it to others.

Zinnia, from Wren Academy Barnet

Code Name ‘Verity’ is a book about two British girls in the Second World War who were best friends. When one of the pair gets captured by the Gestapo, she is forced to tell the Germans everything she knows about the British war effort. She does this by writing detailed accounts of what she did before getting captured.Half the story is being told by the girl who is code named Verity and the other half, by the girl code named Kittyhawk. These girls are best friends.

There is strong language used (frequent rude terms and a few swear words) which may make the book unsuitable for younger readers. Also some parts have detailed violence which also makes it unsuitable for younger readers.This was a book about the war so I was a bit reluctant to read it at first as I don't particularly like war stories but after the first ten pages I really got into the story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This book was full of emotion and really engages the reader. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a really good read that has action in and lots of emotion. This book is also quite informative about the war.

Ratings(1= really bad, 10= really good): Unputdownability 8 (there were bits in the book that were boring, therefore making me put it down); Plot 10’ Well written 10; Overall: 10 (It was a great book)

Zusi, from The Mount School

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is an astonishing book. It is unlike any book I have ever read. Firstly, the cover is creatively designed, beautifully laid out and tells a story of its own. The narrator, ‘Verity,’ is a very interesting female character; she is humorous, cunning, and intelligent but when she faces a drastic downfall in France and ends up captured as a prisoner of war, life becomes tough. ‘Verity’ is no stranger to torture and is experienced enough to know what an enemy goes through, yet she finds comfort in an aspect of life where comfort would have been almost impossible.  Most importantly the narrator is cautious. Cautious of the fact that one word could change the enemy’s thought, one code could either be the death of her or the road to her freedom. This book definitely makes you appreciate life.

One reason why I really enjoyed this book is because within the despair of WWII, it tells us about an unlikely friendship of two young British women. The narrator tells the story of how she ended up in France, as well as the astonishing backstory of her friend, Maddie.

I recommend this book not only to those interested in war, history and WWII but also to those who enjoy reading stories about drama, friendship and life. I can truly not say anything negative about this book. Some find it hard to get into, but to me the beginning was amazing. Elizabeth Wein puts the narrator’s life on the tips of our fingernails. Code Name Verity is simply an exquisite creation.