Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
A plane has crashed in Nazi-occupied France. An error is made. A girl is captured and tortured. The only thing keeping her alive is information. She may live so long as she reveals everything she knows about Allied action, planes, personnel. What we have in our hands is her account of her knowledge of the war effort. The one she supplied the Nazis in an effort to prolong her life.
I hesitate to reveal anything beyond that. It’s really all you need to start the book, but as you can imagine, anything that deals in war and espionage and interrogation has secrets to protect and I will not spoil the efforts of Wein by giving things away now.
This is absolutely for mature teens. It will be very complicated to understand for younger readers even if they were okay with the content. In fact, I would suspect this will have a larger audience with adults that enjoy YA than with teens themselves based on the content. It was a completely gut-wrenching, edge of your seat anxious read.
Great for: Not only does this show strong women, it shoes a true strong friendship between women. So often girls are shown in competition with each other, or the friendship is secondary to pursuit of a man, but this is truly a book about girls.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – A girl is in her underwear. Someone says that a woman needs shagging. She must let someone fondle her breasts. They ask if she’s pregnant or has been raped. She must wait in her panties. A man is handsy and puts his hand on someone’s thigh. Someone comes up for a kiss and cuddle. Someone says a girl doesn’t use what’s between her legs. There are other references to sexual advances. There are erotic playing cards.
Profanity – “God,” “My God,” “bastards,” “heck,” “stupid,” “shit,” “merde,” “bloody,” “moron,” “SOB,” “shut up,” “hell,” “ruddy,” “blooming,” “balls,” “drat,” “shite,”
Death, Violence and Gore – A girl tried to strangle herself. Characters are captured, tortured, shot. Possible tortures include: having kerosene poured down your throat and a lit match held to your lips, a scalpel and acid, having your face held underwater until you pass out, burns. Other violence: death camps, planes are shot down, countries are bombed, planes strafe people for fun, people die, a gunman is covered in blood, someone’s lungs fill with blood, a girl tries to plug the holes in someone’s body after that person has been shot. A person’s fingers and toes are amputated after they are forced they are shot down over the ocean. People are executed. Pictures of a bloodied body are shown to someone. I’m certain I must have left some out. Suffice it to say it is a violent in a fairly graphic and often disturbing way. It is mainly disturbing because so much of the violence is not really exaggerated, but rather business as usual during the war.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – Cigarettes are a constant feature in the book. Cognac, whiskey and champagne are among the alcohols mentioned.
Frightening or Intense Things – Basically the whole book is an exercise in tension and trauma.