by Elizabeth Wein
Series: Code Name Verity #1
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
I don’t even know where to start with Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. This book had me from page one. I’m a sucker for World War II history. I’m a sucker for U.K. accents. So you can imagine how this novel, in audiobook format thanks to SYNC, had me from the very first phrase that Queenie utters.Here’s what worked for me…the point of view from which the story is told (first person) and how that story is shared (letters and diary entries). Listening to the book in the comfort of my cozy car, I felt like Queenie and Maddie were sitting in the car with me telling me their stories. They were my carpool partners. This book definitely made me wish my commute was longer than 20 minutes each way.
When I got to the climax of the story on my drive home from work, I was in tears at the stoplight nearest my home. I can’t imagine being in Maddie’s position and making that decision. It was unfathomable. I definitely DID NOT see it coming. And I still get a bit choked up thinking about it.
It’s awful, telling it like this, isn’t it? As though we didn’t know the ending. As though it could have another ending. It’s like watching Romeo drink poison. Every time you see it you get fooled into thinking his girlfriend might wake up and stop him. Every single time you see it you want to shout, ‘You stupid ass, just wait a minute,’ and she’ll open her eyes! ‘Oi, you, you twat, open your eyes, wake up! Don’t die this time!’ But they always do.
Elizbeth Wein, Code Name Verity
There are lots of literary references in the novel especially to Peter Pan. I do wish I had read the book rather than listened as I am sure I would have marked my copy up with notes. I actually found this image on Pinterest listing the Peter Pan references. I definitely want to read Peter Pan and re-read Code Name Verity after I complete “Pan.”
Here’s my tip…if the Author Notes are in your copy, READ THEM! Once I finished listening to the novel, I was delighted to find that Wein had recorded her notes about how the novel came into being. That’s my favorite part about historical fiction, learning how it connects to the real history–where the inspiration to write a historical fiction novel comes from.
As you can tell, I am giving Code Name Verity two thumbs way up! I’m waiting for someone I know to read this and share in my joy for this beautifully crafted novel so I can talk about what actually happened. This is easily the best book I have read this year.
by Elizabeth Wein
Series: Code Name Verity #2
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
I finally exhausted the handful of SYNC audiobooks I downloaded this summer. While reviewing the books I listened to so far from that event, I kept coming back to Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity. That novel is by far and away the best audiobook I’ve ever listened to and I decided to purchase book two in the series, Rose Under Fire because I was so entranced with the characters Wein created and the tension she was able to convey. Rose Under Fire is no Code Name Verity. While I did find Rose’s plight as a P.O.W. engrossing, it wasn’t nearly as emotional, for me, as Code Name Verity. While the story is told is the same fashion as book one in the series, due to how Wein handles Rose’s disappearance, the reader knows that Rose’s survival has already been determined. As a result, the stakes do not feel as high and it’s just a matter of learning the sequence of events that lead to it.
What is unique about Rose Under Fire is the third part of the book. Once it is revealed how Rose survives, her reintegration into a war-torn Europe is gut wrenching and heartbreaking. While I have enjoyed several fictional novels and movies about World War II, until listening to “Rose,” I had not encountered one that examined a survivor’s point of view post incarceration. After living through the horrors of a concentration camp, I never had thought what it must have been like for those prisoners once they had been freed. This is where Wein shines in Rose Under Fire as I believe she captures a sliver of what it must have been like for so many once freedom was obtained.
While I did not connect to Rose Under Fire in the same way emotionally as Code Name Verity, I am giving it a thumbs up for giving me a peek into what it was like for survivors after they were released from concentration camps as they tried to reintegrate into society. It was a point of view I hadn’t considered before and it was a unique and heartbreaking thing to consider.