Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Today, I Recommend
Oct. 11th, 1943--A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.
Over the past few years, there have been a handful of books I pushed on everybody, rather than, yanno, trying to match my recommendations with what they liked. These books were The Hunger Games, Incarceron, Rot and Ruin, and The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Today, I am going to push you toward Code Name Verity. It's quite a bit more intense than what I would normally start buying up by the case to give away, or perhaps I feel this way because it's historical YA fiction, without the danger distance of something sf/f.
Because I had an advance copy--thank you, Hyperion and Net Galley--I've been avoiding spoilers like anything. I don't want to spoil you, so let me be as brief as possible. Two girls, one Scottish and upperclass, one Jewish-Russian in heritage and much less affluent, become the very best of friends while working for the war effort in England during WWII. The first, Queenie, has everything it takes to be a spy; playacting is second nature. The second, Maddie, is a whiz with engines and airplanes, and is part of the group of pilots who ferry military personnel around the country, often at night, navigating by memory. Their friendship is tested when Maddie, filling in for another pilot, flies Queenie to Nazi-occupied France, and their plane is hit by enemy forces.
Author Elizabeth Wein doesn't pull any punches here. There is torture, death, and danger. There is no shine. But it's brilliant, and structurally brilliant, nonetheless.
For a more detailed review that doesn't give away the whole plot, the NY Times is a good place to start. I have a mild disagreement about the statement in that interview regarding appeal to teenagers; I look at this differently--I think it will be unsettling, and a responsibility, because there is no way to not think after reading. I do agree with that reviewer that the cover is probably a mistake, though not for the same reasons the reviewer cites.
Code Name Verity is out today in the U.S. from Hyperion.