Code Name Verity Discussion

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Ben Weber

Rating 9/10

Code Name Verity at the beginning of the independent reading project, was not my first choice. John had suggested that we read this book because it was recommended to him. It turns out that now, 83 pages in, I am thoroughly enjoying this book to the full extent. There are so many great parts to this book that I was having trouble coming up with the one item to write about. There is the great main character, the setting, and the intertwining backstory, and I did not know which one to choose. Then it hit me. Why not write about all of these ideas at once so I did. Without further ado, my thoughts and ideas about Elizabeth Wein’s unusual writing style.

Elizabeth Wein’s writing style is very mysterious for you never know where the story will go next. She also makes the book very realistic and relatable. I believe this is true, because she has great characters, such as Queenie. The author created these characters and did what many authors do, she pretend to be a character while writing the book. This allows for the book to feel realistic and you are able to relate to the characters. One of the biggest way this is shown is how Queenie gets side tracked. She will be talking about British hangers and then suddenly start talking about how the guards were treating her. This is how my writing is when it is not edited, and helped me relate to Queenie even though there is a 76 year difference.

What someone may have already picked up is that this book is a letter, written by Queenie, telling the Nazis all she knows about the British Army. The story is written from her friend Maddie’s point of view and she herself is in third person. This can be proven when a German officer says, “‘Do you not recognize her in these pages?’ von Linden prompted. ‘Ah, perhaps not; she flatters herself with competence and bravery that you have never witnessed. She is the young woman called Queenie, the wireless operator who takes down the Luftwaffe aircraft’” (58). This would make the story a letter of the author’s author’s friend in third person. If I just made your brain hurt I am sorry, but this is the way the book is written. This makes the book very intriguing to read as there are many mistakes. If it had been written in the author’s perspective, these mistakes would not have happened.

Lastly there is how Wien has Queenie organize her letter. Instead of talking about British Generals and other facts of the British Army, as many would have done, she talks about the background on how she ended up in Germany. Her story starts before the beginning of WW II. This lets the reader learn about how life was in the 1930’s. Even though this would seem awkward for a person to do at this time, the background was needed. Wien did this to transport the reader back to that day and age. Once the reader is through 20 – 30 pages, and they had a full understanding of the situation at hand, she starts with the facts about the British army. This is the same way with everything in the book that contributes to Elizabeth Wein’s unusual writing style. It is a little confusing at first, but everything is there for a reason. This is the main reason that I enjoy Code Name Verity so much, the unusual writing style. It is something new and it does not take away from the novel in any way, making the novel even more relatable.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Code Name Verity Discussion

  1. seralew

    I really enjoyed this book and really enjoyed you’re analysis of the whole thing. It gets better as you go!

  2. penelopespurr

    Penelope Spurr
    Rating: 8/10

    I completely agree with Ben. I was initially suggested Code Name Verity with little knowledge of the story or its focus on WWII. Over the course of reading the first quarter of it, there are multiple components of the story that I have come to enjoy.

    At first, I was surprised that Wein wrote the narration with emphasis and emotion. I began the book with an utter distaste for the style of the narration (for example, narrating in all caps), but later realized that the narrator had clearly been tortured horrifically, and that the exaggeration was a result of her trauma, rather than making light of her situation. I also find the book particularly interesting because of its third person narrative. I have to admit: I find it a little challenging to keep up with names and places and who exactly is narrating. (I believe the narrator is Queenie, speaking through the perspective of her best friend Maddie.)

    On page 58, Queenie writes that her reason for narrating in first person is because she can “avoid all my old thoughts and feelings” and because “I am someone else now.” I find this concept of finding a new sense of self particularly interesting, and due to the lack of explanation, I have been left eager to learn why Queenie has changed her perspective. This sense of a renewed self also urges me to ponder whether Queenie covered her true personality in her past, or is covering it now–either way, her two personas from her past and present with do not align.

    Secondly, I had no idea what roles women played during the war–especially in Europe. I thoroughly enjoy the development of Maddie’s aviation experiences and leadership experiences, as well as her passion for flying. I love how Wein is able to paint a clear picture of aviation during the war; the pilots, communicators, RADAR fields, etc. With detailed descriptions of chaos and contrasting success, I have been able to piece together aspects of the complex field of the air force during WWII. I specifically enjoyed reading the scene of the first air raid, when the group of Maddie, Queenie, and other women are playing poker and smoking cigarettes to calm themselves in the chaos of war, because the scene illustrates how brave (and badass) women were at the time.

    Code Name Verity begins with a bit of a confusing and slow start, but by the end of the first quarter I have become eager to discover more about the characters and their paths from the past and present.

    • johnredinbo

      John Redinbo
      Rating: 8.5/10

      I also agree with the wise words of Ben and Penelope. This is unlike any book I’ve ever read. Now, I usually dislike deep books. There we go; I said it. No one enjoys being told that they know less about the complexities of the universe, especially me. But, this book is fantastic, and it perfectly blends the terrible problems of war with light-hearted moments of friendship and humor. So, unless you for some reason don’t like friendship or humor, you will enjoy this book.
      It uses the flashback structure, which may be more common now than it used to, but hardly any books have the main character undergoing torture while telling the story. Queenie (the sort-of protagonist/narrator), slowly spilling all of her secrets to the Gestapo makes for a tense novel, and I have no clue what’s going to happen next. Witnessing Queenie lose all her dignity is somehow relatable, and leaves you asking questions about your humanity. What would I do in her situation? Would I betray my friends, or lose them in order to survive? Would I be able to stand strong through the hardship? Intense stuff!
      However, I do slightly disagree with my group members about the beginning of the book (sorry). The first line literally states in capital letters, “I AM A COWARD”, so I was pulled in from the start.
      I honestly know a lot less about WW2 than I should, and it’s interesting to hear Queenie (the protagonist) talk about Scotland’s participation in it, and the various roles that were assigned in a Royal Air Force Base.

  3. johnredinbo

    Sorry, not finished. I accidentally hit post, sooo……I’m just going to continue. Ignore the bottom part. Uhhh…right. So, I was pulled in by Queenie’s brutal honesty in the beginning, that then contrasted with her loving description of the beautiful Scottish countryside. Finally, agreeing with Penny, it was interesting to hear about the roles in a Royal Scottish Air Force Base during WW2. I know little about the war in general, but absolutely nothing concerning Scotland. I didn’t understand the desperation Scotland had recruiting citizens for jobs that barely anyone was even trained for. This is a great novel, and I’m interested to read more.
    (Sorry for the mishap).

  4. johnredinbo

    Also, just realized it’s not in Scotland. It’s in England. So, just insert that in instead of Scotland 🙂

  5. benweber55713

    I fully agree with everything everyone is saying it looks like everyone (but the two that haven’t posted) have the same stance. This is nice but annoying for discussion. John that part about flashbacks is very good. I did not think about it at the time, but it does evolve the story into something more. I also agree with Penny about the part about the woman smoking and playing poker. I would like to add to this thought. There is also the fact about how Queenie brings an umbrella to the shelter. I feel this is very symbolic and shows safety as well as shows the thoughtful side of the main character. I would also like to add that I really enjoyed the part when Queenie was pretending to be a german spy. This was very entertaining and shows there is a fun side of this character that we have come to know. I am very glad that we are reading this book, and I hope everyone is enjoying it as much as I am. I am looking forward to seeing what Chris and Barton are going to post as well.

  6. bartonzhuang

    Barton Zhuang
    8/10

    I completely agree with all of the ideas presented above and I apologize for the late response. Originally, I also did not intend on reading this book. However, I had heard praise for it from some old friends and decided to give it a try. I’ll admit that at the beginning of the novel I thoroughly was not enjoying the novel. I would rather have been sleeping. The beginning of the novel was way to confusing and boring for my taste. However, I reached a point maybe 35 or so pages in, when I started to pay more attention and actually found myself enjoying the novel quite a bit. I think to read this novel, you need to cooperate with the author and their writing/writing style and you need to think. Once all the ties were established and the situation at hand was explained, it was rather enjoyable.
    I would like to reiterate that I agree with everything that has been stated above by the other people reading this book, especially Penny’s paragraph about Queenie. I personally found myself attracted to the way the book is narrated, Queenie as a character, and the small kind of “games” that Queenie plays. This book is narrated in a way I have never seen before, and I’m not saying that it’s bad, but it definitely takes some getting used to. I actually find it brilliant how the person writing speaks from a point of view that is not her own, and yet also includes herself in the third person. I honestly think that I learned more about Queenie through this narration. By writing down how she believed Maddie felt and thought about her (sorry if confusing), I got a broader sense of Queenie as an individual. I don’t really know why. Perhaps I believe that one is more blind when speaking about themselves.
    Second of all, Queenie as a character really really intrigued me. While I find myself lacking some qualities of hers mentioned (you know… looks, smarts, etc.) I did see a lot of her in me (or maybe I’m just being blind like I said earlier… I dunno). The way the writer writes just feels really relatable. I mean, she’s sassy, clever, and loves to play games (that’s enough self-pampering comments for today); but most importantly, Queenie seems real. She has rational fears. Her fears are what stood out to me the most. When making a new friend, one of her first interactions was the sharing/swapping of fears. She came across as brave, but also seemed distraught by some events that occurred, such as the moment at the anti aircraft gun emplacement with the dying man. Other than her realness, what stood out to me were the games. On page 79, Maddie tells a man to “Pay no attention to her, she’s loopy. She’s been playing daft games all morning–.” I personally feel that these games are Queenie’s ways of coping with what is going on in their present. Queenie seems a very solid and stable person on the outside, but because of the sharing of fears, I am unsure of whether or not she is so on the inside as well. Regardless, I found Queenie to be a fascinating character with a beautiful backstory and is a well developed character by Wein.
    Drawing to a conclusion (thank you for bearing with me), I have found this book to be intriguing, as it gets me thinking. I agree with what John said about putting oneself in that situation, and often find myself thinking the same thing. My biggest concern as of the moment is that I am over analyzing Queenie as a character and not focusing enough on Maddie, the “narrator” and seemingly more prominent character at the moment.

    • bartonzhuang

      Barton Zhuang
      8/10

      I completely agree with all of the ideas presented above and I apologize for the late response. Originally, I also did not intend on reading this book. However, I had heard praise for it from some old friends and decided to give it a try. I’ll admit that at the beginning of the novel I thoroughly was not enjoying the novel. I would rather have been sleeping. The beginning of the novel was way to confusing and boring for my taste. However, I reached a point maybe 35 or so pages in, when I started to pay more attention and actually found myself enjoying the novel quite a bit. I think to read this novel, you need to cooperate with the author and their writing/writing style and you need to think. Once all the ties were established and the situation at hand was explained, it was rather enjoyable.
      I would like to reiterate that I agree with everything that has been stated above by the other people reading this book, especially Penny’s paragraph about Queenie. I personally found myself attracted to the way the book is narrated, Queenie as a character, and the small kind of “games” that Queenie plays. This book is narrated in a way I have never seen before, and I’m not saying that it’s bad, but it definitely takes some getting used to. I actually find it brilliant how the person writing speaks from a point of view that is not her own, and yet also includes herself in the third person. I honestly think that I learned more about Queenie through this narration. By writing down how she believed Maddie felt and thought about her (sorry if confusing), I got a broader sense of Queenie as an individual. I don’t really know why. Perhaps I believe that one is more blind when speaking about themselves.
      Second of all, Queenie as a character really really intrigued me. While I find myself lacking some qualities of hers mentioned (you know… looks, smarts, etc.) I did see a lot of her in me (or maybe I’m just being blind like I said earlier… I dunno). The way the writer writes just feels really relatable. I mean, she’s sassy, clever, and loves to play games (that’s enough self-pampering comments for today); but most importantly, Queenie seems real. She has rational fears. Her fears are what stood out to me the most. When making a new friend, one of her first interactions was the sharing/swapping of fears. She came across as brave, but also seemed distraught by some events that occurred, such as the moment at the anti aircraft gun emplacement with the dying man. Other than her realness, what stood out to me were the games. On page 79, Maddie tells a man to “Pay no attention to her, she’s loopy. She’s been playing daft games all morning–.” I personally feel that these games are Queenie’s ways of coping with what is going on in their present. Queenie seems a very solid and stable person on the outside, but because of the sharing of fears, I am unsure of whether or not she is so on the inside as well. Regardless, I found Queenie to be a fascinating character with a beautiful backstory and is a well developed character by Wein.
      Drawing to a conclusion (thank you for bearing with me), I have found this book to be intriguing, as it gets me thinking. I agree with what John said about putting oneself in that situation, and often find myself thinking the same thing. My biggest concern as of the moment is that I am over analyzing Queenie as a character and not focusing enough on Maddie, the “narrator” and seemingly more prominent character at the moment.

  7. benweber55713

    It is my fault that Barton posted twice it was my last resort in study hall to get it to send. My Bad.

  8. benweber55713

    Barton that was very insightful, that this is how Queenie dealt with fear, playing games. Thanks for opening my eyes to that.

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