Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A One-Sitting Read

I am always looking for new books to read, and so, being that it's right after Christmas (though really, I don't need and excuse), I decided to head to "Barnes & Nobles". And, while I was perusing the shelves, I found this absolute gem of a novel: Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein.
Now, I have known of the existence of Code Name Verity for many months. I've seen in publicized on writing websites and reviewed on blogs. Though I never looked very closely, all of these sources seemed to have loved the book. I, however, started to read Anna Karenina- which, as Tolstoy lovers know, is a process. But a few days ago, I set out to the bookstore, armed with a gift card, and saw Code Name Verity on the shelf. I remembered the blogs and websites that had recommended it, and decided to give it a chance.

I began reading this afternoon, and finished in one sitting.

To begin, Code Name Verity is historical fiction. This is always a huge plus for me, as I so admire authors who put in such time and effort to meticulously reconstruct another time or setting. Also, Wein weaves the history and fiction together beautifully; she does not throw the history in the readers face, saying, "Look! I researched this! This is the exact type of shoe twenty year old working women would wear in the 1940s!" Instead, she weaves the two topics seamlessly together, recreating the World War II setting she has chosen.

But though Wein is writing about World War II, she does not focus on the evils of Germany at the time; instead, she chooses individual people to be her villains. Also, this is not a war book; it is not All Quiet on the Western Front. It is a book about people who are in a war. There is a war on. And there are spies, and airplanes, and secrets. But there are also best friends, and making the hard choices.

Code Name Verity is, in short, the best book I have read in quite a long time. It is heartfelt and emotional. It is well written, with wonderful narrative voice for each of its characters. It's plot is complex and intriguing, twisting and turning down beautifully foreshadowed alleys.

Wein has created a new world between two paper covers.

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