Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity

4.4 111
by Elizabeth Wein

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Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst

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Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called "a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel" in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
This heart-in-your-mouth adventure has it all: a complex plot, a vivid sense of place and time, and resonant themes of friendship and courage. Practical Maddie and mischievous Julie are brought to life through their vibrant narrative voices and intriguing backstories…In this powerful work of historical fiction, Julie and Maddie need never fear "flying alone"; the reader will soar with them until the final page.
—Mary Quattlebaum
Publishers Weekly
Wein (The Empty Kingdom) serves up a riveting and often brutal tale of WWII action and espionage with a powerful friendship at its core. Captured Scottish spy Queenie has agreed to tell her tale—and reveal any confidential information she knows—in exchange for relief from being tortured by Nazis. Her story, which alternates between her early friendship with a pilot named Maddie and her recent sufferings in prison, works both as a story of cross-class friendship (from an upper-crust family, Queenie realizes that she would likely never have met Maddie under other circumstances) and as a harrowing spy story (Queenie’s captor, von Loewe, is humanized without losing his menace). Queenie’s deliberately rambling and unreliable narration keeps the story engaging, and there are enough action sequences and well-delivered twists (including a gut-wrenching climax and late revelations that will have readers returning to reread the first half of the book) to please readers of all stripes. Wein balances the horrors of war against genuine heroics, delivering a well-researched and expertly crafted adventure. Ages 14–up. Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown. (May)
From the Publisher

Nickole Brown grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and Deerfield Beach, Florida. Her first collection, Sister, was published by Red Hen Press in 2007. She received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, studied literature at Oxford University, and was the editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. She is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Series in Prose Poetry at White Pine Press, and is also an Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, where she lives with her wife, poet Jessica Jacobs.
VOYA - Susan Allen Schulman
Captured by the Gestapo after her plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France, Verity's only chance of survival is collaborating with her Nazi interrogator. Initially told from the perspective of Maddie, Verity's best friend and pilot of the crashed plane, her detailed confession reveals the transformation of two ordinary girls into integral parts of the English war effort and their journey to adulthood in an increasingly volatile world. Maddie and Verity's extraordinary bravery is reflected in frank narrative as they both fight against time and a horrific, powerful enemy. Although Verity is portrayed as a character mature beyond her years, her language sometimes seems childish and inconsistent with the individual described in her confession. The reading level could be appropriate for high school students. The graphic torture scenes, adult themes, violence, and some profane language place it firmly in the high school demographic. The themes of hope, friendship, and determination even in the most impossible situations are relevant to all readers. Although the depiction of Nazi practices throughout may be disturbing to some individuals, they are historically accurate and will lead to thoughtful discussion. The conclusion is unexpected and heartbreaking but altogether fitting with the premise and the novel's classification as "a World War II thriller." Reviewer: Susan Allen, with teen book club and Anya Schulman
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Tension builds from the first line that Julie Beaufort-Stuart (code name Verity) writes after she is taken prisoner by the Gestapo in France. A small gesture led to her capture and now she is writing to extend her life. Torture, and the mere threat of torture, play a part in this tale, and Julie recounts that in her writings. She has promised to tell all she knows about the British War effort. What's more, she knows the gruesome death that awaits secret agents. Her wartime friendship with Maddie Brodatt and how their plane was shot and crashed are recounted in the notes she makes. The second half of the story is told from Maddie's perspective, and the two friends find themselves back together in a stunning conclusion. This World War II novel is rich in discussion material: the setting; the characters; and the themes of heroes and cowards, friendship and hatred, irony, truth, and more. Nothing is quite as simple as it seems, however. Wein deftly weaves their gritty, compelling, complex story which lingers long after the last page is read. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
Library Journal
★ 10/01/2015
A quick-witted British girl whose plane has crashed in Nazi-occupied France is forced by the Gestapo to confess to her country's war plans. Her writings detail her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who crashed the plane. A must for young adult collections, as is Wein's companion novel, Rose Under Fire, whose intelligence and emotional depth will appeal to adult readers as well. Pearl Cornioley's autobiography, Code Name Pauline, covers similar ground and can provide needed context to Wein's story. (LJ 11/15/12)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—What is truth? The significance of Julia Beaufort-Stuart's alias, "Code Name Verity," takes on double meaning in this taut, riveting, thriller. When the story begins, Julia is an unnamed prisoner, formerly a wireless operator for the British, held captive in France by a seemingly sadistic Nazi interrogator. She has supposedly "sold her soul" in exchange for small bits of freedom, giving pieces of code in exchange for her life. Interspersed with the story of her fierce fight for survival is a different tale: that of how she came to be in France and of her friendship with Maddie Brodatt, a British civilian pilot. Their unlikely friendship-Julia is a noblewoman, Maddie a commoner-forms the backbone of the novel, and Wein seamlessly weaves its threads throughout the book, tying them like the knots of a rope. As Julia tells their story, she also reveals small bits of her attempts at survival and escape. In the second half of the book, Maddie narrates, telling of her desperate attempts to rescue her friend and revealing both the truth of what happened to each of them, and the truth of Julia's bravery. This intricate tale is not for the faint of heart, and readers will be left gasping for the finish, desperate to know how it ends. With a seemingly unreliable narrator, strong friendship, wonderful historical details, and writing that fairly crackles on the page, this is an excellent book for thoughtful readers and book-discussion groups.—Necia Blundy, Marlborough Public Library, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Breaking away from Arthurian legends (The Winter Prince, 1993, etc.), Wein delivers a heartbreaking tale of friendship during World War II. In a cell in Nazi-occupied France, a young woman writes. Like Scheherezade, to whom she is compared by the SS officer in charge of her case, she dribbles out information--"everything I can remember about the British War Effort"--in exchange for time and a reprieve from torture. But her story is more than a listing of wireless codes or aircraft types. Instead, she describes her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew them to France, as well as the real details of the British War Effort: the breaking down of class barriers, the opportunities, the fears and victories not only of war but of daily life. She also describes, almost casually, her unbearable current situation and the SS officer who holds her life in his hands and his beleaguered female associate, who translates the narrative each day. Through the layers of story, characters (including the Nazis) spring to life. And as the epigraph makes clear, there is more to this tale than is immediately apparent. The twists will lead readers to finish the last page and turn back to the beginning to see how the pieces slot perfectly, unexpectedly into place. A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

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Product Details

Disney Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.10(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Wein ( was born in New York City, grew up abroad, and currently lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. She is an avid flyer of small planes. She also holds a PhD in Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania.

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