Friday, March 8, 2013

Code Name Verity

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Genre: YA Fiction
Published: 2012
Rating: 7/10

This is the second book set during WWII that I read in February. This congruence of themes wasn't at all planned -- both are books from the "Best of" lists from last year and they turned out to be quite different despite that both could be very roughly described as "young women doing brave things during the war".

Code Name Verity begins in the form of a report by a captured English spy. Chapter by chapter, we learn about her training in England, her best friend who is a mechanic and a pilot. And about her interrogation at the hands of Gestapo in the town of Ormaie.

My initial feelings towards the book mostly revolved around how unlikely I thought the premise was. There you have a woman broken down during interrogation and instead of asking her some direct questions, they spend valuable paper (that they are short of) to let her ramble on for hundreds of pages about her best friend with occasional mentions of something that may be considered useful. Even if you allow for the possibility of her questioning officer being a bit soft on her, her treatment is still a far cry from anything you'd expect.

I decided to set that qualm aside though and tried to immerse myself into Verity's story telling. The story itself flows quite well with the characters and friendships being developed. I didn't get the same sort of feel for the atmosphere in England during the war that Mr. Churchill's Secretary created, but there are different bits and pieces that are quite interesting.

The second half of the book is told from Maddie's point of view. Once again there are things she does that I have trouble believing anyone could possibly get away with and I had to try hard to suspend my disbelief at certain events that she narrates. On the other hand, the narrative is cleverly woven together with the story Verity has told in the first part to expose events in a different light and often turn them around in clever ways. I rather enjoyed that aspect of the plot and the second part of the book was a faster reading than the first.

Altogether I was a bit disappointed in Code Name Verity, but perhaps I just had unrealistically high expectations for the novel to start with. It's a very well written book with likable characters and an exciting plot. I just couldn't get past the bits that seemed unrealistic to me and that tarnished the experience somewhat. I'd still recommend this book to anyone who enjoys strong female protagonists.

P.S. Chad read Code Name Verity at the same time -- take a look at his review.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

February Wrap-Up

The shortest month of the year is over, the sun is shining and it's very clearly spring outside my window. Good weather doesn't bode well for my reading counts, but February was quite successful with five books completed:
  1. Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny
  2. A Trick of Light by Louise Penny
  3. The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
  4. Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal
  5. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
I started this month by finishing off all the published books in the Inspector Gamache series. Bury Your Dead was particularly my favorite out of those I read this month. Then I switched gears and read a couple of fictional novels set in WWII which was quite a change of pace. I enjoyed both books, but wasn't particularly strongly affected by either.

The reason I suspect the next month will be slow beside the really nice sunny weather is because the next book I am reading is Effective C++ by Scott Meyers and that might take me quite a bit of time to get through. Nonfiction is always a drag on my total book count, but since I've made some goals for myself to read non-fiction this year and the book is actually interesting, I am investing time into it.

There are still several books on my to-read list that came from Best Of lists from last year and that I may pick up. Or I can catch up with Flavia since the latest book in the series came out in January. Time will tell. Happy March to you all!