Review: Code Name Verity

The best word I can think of it to describe Code Name Verity is: layered.

code-name-verityI know several people who loved this book from the beginning, so imagine how I felt when it took me a while to get into it. I felt alarmed, actually. I was confused by the narration, as “Verity” wrote about her friend Maddie and her perspective, about things Maddie did when she wasn’t with her, and even giving names of people she doesn’t know and recording conversation. Was she really writing all this down? Why? How does she know all this? I was so distracted by it all. And then we read an exchange between two people working at the prison she’s at, one who explains to the other – and to me as well – how and why Verity is writing her account as she was.

So finally, something seemed to click for me. I still wasn’t falling in love with the narrative right away, or even Verity, but over time, I started to care a little more and more. Then I remember getting to the end of Part One, where we see a note about Verity’s fate –

WAIT?! That’s all you’re giving me! I wanted to scream. I could not believe it was the end of her story. Or so it seemed. So I started Part Two, where we get Maddie’s account.

And then things really started to click.

I could also relate to Maddie more. I’m not sure if it was because of her personality, because we already knew so much about her from Verity, or a combination of the two (that’s what I’m leaning towards), but Part Two was really when the story came alive for me. Maddie put together pieces from Verity’s initial story that you didn’t even know were missing. Everything suddenly had a double meaning. I was finally realized there was so much more to the story than met the eye.

I thought the novel ended perfectly, but I really wanted more about Maddie, and Jamie! Even though we don’t see a lot of him, I really liked him a lot and would love to read a book from his perspective! And even though it was so subtle, I loved the blooming relationship between them.

At the end, I was almost emotional. I actually had a hard time emotionally connecting with Verity, but Maddie connected enough dots for me to feel more engaged with both of them. Even still, I still felt a little more emotionally distant than I would have liked in a story about love, war, and loss. Because of this and the slow beginning, I didn’t feel the book earned a 5, but for being so beautifully crafted in complexity (which means it will definitely need to be re-read one day), I decided to go with 4.5.

4-5stars-editWhat are your thoughts on Code Name Verity? 

Content Advisory: Moderate language, including a couple of f-bombs. Torture is described somewhat but not in great detail. There is mention of rape and other sexual activities but nothing gratuitous. 

12 Responses to Review: Code Name Verity

  1. Layered is a great description. I love this book and even though I was totally confused in the beginning, I had a hunch that it was all going somewhere. It takes patience to read the book at the start and the flying bits weren’t my cup of tea but everything else I loved. Definitely one that needs to re-read someday. Great review Amy

    • Thanks, Trish! Yes, patience is key. I kept thinking about how everyone loved it and it felt like something could be happening, so I’m glad I stuck it out!

  2. I can relate to a lot of your experiences and feelings with this book. It’s strange because, just like for you, everything started to click for me when I read Maddie’s part, even though I was at first a little jarred by swapping to a new perspective (I LOVED Verity’s voice, even if it was confusing to understand in the beginning). I’m sad to hear that you didn’t get as emotionally invested as I ended up being (I was sobbing when that certain thing happened), but at least overall you ended up really enjoying this book!

    • I really cannot figure out my barometer for what makes me emotional. Maybe a lot of it depends on what my hormones are up to that day, ha ha. I was certainly shocked and taken aback and gasped during certain parts, but my eyes never once watered. It wasn’t because I didn’t feel anything, because I did, but apparently not enough to cry about it. Some books/movies/etc. have made me cry, though not a lot, and I don’t know if it’s because I connect with them more of just a mood thing. I felt kind of bad for not getting emotional, but I know everyone reacts different to things anyway.

  3. I felt the same way about Code Name Verity. For the first half of the book, I was mostly bored and definitely unconnected to the main character, but I soldiered on due to the hype. Things certainly turned around during Maddie’s story, but even then, I didn’t connect as emotionally with the characters as many other readers seemed to do. I teared up a little, but I didn’t flat out bawl. And it’s not that I don’t love a good friendship story. Sarah Dessen’s Someone Like You is one of my favorite books about best friends. I would have loved to see Maddie and Jamie’s relationship unveiled more fully as well. It felt authentic, but it was like they were friends and then all of a sudden – BAM – they’re in love. Objectively, I could tell this was a well-written book, but subjectively, it just didn’t impact me.

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