Typically when we watch or read spy stories, we think of James Bond, the ultra classy and posh spy with a vast arsenal of really cool gadgets. We often don’t see the less glamorous side of the spies getting caught and tortured, and we most often don’t see women spies who aren’t incredibly sexualized. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein portrays the actual reality of spy life while telling a heartwarming and thoughtful story about friendship, and a story of how perception is everything.
“Verity” is the code name for a Scottish girl working for England during World War II. She parachutes into German-occupied France and is subsequently caught and charged with being a spy. When she is tortured, she begins selling secrets to save herself. She is given paper and begins writing a tale of friendship and adventure. By the end of the novel, you are left wondering, who is this girl with the code name Verity?
This novel brings up many moral questions as the narrator explores what it means to being human. Why do people do terrible things to others? Are they monsters, or does the monstrous situation create monsters? What is a true friend, and what do you do to show that? These are questions any good piece of literature portrays, although they are not often found in young adult literature today.
Although this book can be considered historical fiction, even Wein has said that her book is more fiction than history. So while all the events are plausible, as far as we know they didn’t happen. But who knows? Most of the time we have no clue happens in the clandestine world.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.