I first picked up Code Name Verity because I like the author, but I was a bit concerned because all her other books are Arthurian fiction, and Code Name Verity—tackling as it does espionage during World War II—is a vastly different animal. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have made it past the first fifty pages if it wasn’t for the author’s name (she’s the one who wrote The Winter Prince, which I’ve read at least three times ). Fortunately, however, I persevered, and further along in the story, the reasoning behind certain story-telling decisions is revealed.
The book, written in first person, begins as the written confession of a British spy captured by the Gestapo. In the first place, it was depressing because we know off the get-go that the main character—a young Scottish woman whose identity is not revealed for several chapters—has both failed her mission and is now revealing everything she knows to her captors. Furthermore, her account is filled with quite a lot about her present situation, which is odd because naturally her interrogators wouldn’t be interested in her telling them she was tortured that morning. They already know that.
I’m finding this a difficult review to write without offering any spoilers. So much of the story is peeled back layer by layer that it’s hard to backtrack to a safe point that wouldn’t reveal any twists. So suffice it to say the story is more intricate and detailed than I’ve outlined.
The characters are well-developed and feel very realistic. Each as a distinctive voice, such that it is almost superfluous for the author to even mention who says what, because the dialogue so adroitly captures the various personalities. The story takes its time to get going, but once it kicks into gear it hits the ground running. As far as the historical accuracy, the story may stretch plausibility, but doesn’t break it entirely.
In short, I’d recommend the book for fans of historical fiction who enjoy a light read and don’t expect rapid pacing (by light, I mean that it’s an easy young adult book to read, not that it is emotionally and thematically light).