This was a book I had heard some things about, all good, for quite a while and so when I spotted it on the local library's shelves I of course grabbed it. I was a bit worried because it's set during World War II, emphasis on the war part, and in my experience that usually means that a lot of sad things happen. And even when some sad things started happening that wasn't enough to stop me from putting my computer away, putting my homework away, and reading a few hundred pages of it in one sitting in an afternoon.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Summary: Verity is in trouble, currently she's traded the last of the British military secrets she knows to the SS and her remaining time is running dangerously short. So while she endures her tortures she writes on the paper she's traded her country's future away for and begins to reminisce on how her best friend Maddie got into the military and slowly her own story unfolds as well.
The Good: This story spends it's first half bringing you down as low as it can and then the second half starts to bring you back up to which I must say thank god, even though the ending wasn't exactly a cheerful happy one (I don't think that's a spoiler to say since again, war novel, World War II war novel, it's going to have at least some bitter bits). This book always strikes me as a bit unusual since the most important relationship in the book, which is undeniably the backbone for the entire story (hell it's on the cover!) is the friendship between Verity and Maddie and I can't recall the last time I saw a story that was about a friendship between two girls to this degree (and boy I wish I could since I want more). I can see some people interpreting their relationship as one with a few romantic undertones, after reading the entire story I decided that I didn't see it that way, although I'm torn over whether I want it to be romantic (since fiction needs more non-straight couples) or not (since fiction also needs more stories about friends, especially girls, who are so close that they will literally go through hell for each other). And, if my introduction didn't make it clear enough, this is a really gripping book and I accidentally read over half of it in one sitting, once you get going you don't want to stop
The Bad: Keep some tissues nearby folks, this book almost made me cry and I very rarely cry over works of fiction in any medium. Which isn't really a bad thing and honestly this was a really strong book without many faults. The second half was, how to put it, a little less believable to me (for reasons that are much too spoilerly to explain) but still flowed and worked well enough for me in the end for it to not be anywhere near a deal breaker.
So, 4 out of 5, hell maybe even a 4.5 out of 5 and I give this a hearty recommendation to anyone who likes young adult books in general or stories in general but friends who, well, will go through war for each other. I'm going to keep an eye out for this book at bookstores to get my own copy and will be keeping my eye out for Wein's other works (some of which appear to already be on my to-read list, excellent!). Oh, and since this seems like a good opportunity to recommend another book as well, Flygirl by Sherri L Smith. I didn't know a way to mention this in my review but Maddie's story is how she went from being a farm girl to a pilot and Flygirl is another fictional story about a female pilot in World War II, just this time in America and it stars an African-American lady who is passing for white so there is plenty of tension there as well. Another excellent book so if you like one go and read the other, you'll like it I promise!