Code Name Verity

This week I have a short column as I'm getting ready for the book launch I am hosting for Jackie Dolamore's novel Magic Under Stone, which takes place Saturday evening at Balticon (www.balticon.org). There will be scrumptious refreshments, punch, a short reading from the book, signing and door prizes. Please do drop by if you are in the neighborhood.

Recently I was lucky enough to get a galley of Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein. I was super busy when I got it but it is riveting (and heartbreaking) so I squeezed it in, and finally ended up staying up all night to finish it. It's definitely the best book I've read so far this year.

The story begins with a young lady, who is being called Verity, writing a confession of sorts. She has been captured by Nazis and is a self confessed coward who has given up information she is supposed to be protecting. She has already given them eleven wireless codes and is now supposed to give them details of British planes and airfields.

She compares herself to Scheherazade, an apt comparison, and says that the longer she strings her story out the longer she will live. She does let some more information slip, but mostly she talks about her beloved friend Maddie, who is a pilot. Verity describes how they met and how the war has affected both of them, all the while describing her captors, her prison, and how her fellow prisoners despise her for being a collaborator.

Verity is treated very badly, which she describes so casually that the impact is all the greater. (I'm sure if I were the one being tortured I'd have spilled everything three or four times over.) She isn't just in physical duress, she is also emotionally wracked by grief, worrying over the fate of Maddie, who flew her into enemy territory and may not have survived the journey.

Code Name Verity is full of twists and turns, many of which took me completely by surprise. I'm usually pretty good at figuring out what is going to happen, and I saw some of the plot, but I wasn't able to figure it all out. I love to be outwitted and author Elizabeth Wein well deserves the accolades she is receiving for this novel.

Code Name Verity is an incredibly powerful book. It made me cry so much I had trouble catching my breath and occupied my mind for days after reading it. The friendship between Verity and Maddie is strong; strong enough that I wondered if there was something more there, at least one side, kind of like Shay and Tally's complicated friendship in the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. It's difficult reading about Verity's concern and longing for Maddie, but it also makes me as a reader feel a strong connection to her.

Filled with suspense and intrigue, Code Name Verity is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. You should go and get it right now but first set aside some time so you can read it all in one gulp. Then read it again, savoring it the second time.

You can watch a book trailer for it here:

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is for coffee lovers, who will enjoy this Eisner nominated comic from Dave Kellett. Up for Best Humor Publication you can read Coffee: It’s What’s For Dinner for free right now as a PDF. http://delicious-monster.com/downloads/COFFEE_Eisner.pdf It features selected comics from the Sheldon comic strip.