It’s Julia’s last summer on the Scottish estate that once belonged to her Granddad. His body has been laid to rest a few months ago, the Murray collection, these treasures and valuables that once belonged to her Granddad are being catalogued at the area library, and the Strathfearn castle and manor are now under construction. Julia has her memories as she makes her way through the estate and onto grounds, but days later when she wakes up in the hospital, she is confused, what has happened to her? Mary, the librarian is waiting for Julian when she awakes and tries to help her solve this mystery. When the two small tinker children arrive later, Julian realizes they were the ones who actually saved her. The tinkers, the travelers who have been coming for years to Inchfort Field, it was the McEwens, they were the ones who came upon Julia and assisted her. The question is what caused Julia to be unconscious?
I enjoyed all the adventures that were inside this novel. While Julia was trying to solve what actually happened to her, we had the construction occurring on the estate, then there was some drama with the characters, we had individuals working on the inventory at the library, we also had to consider the history of the property they were dealing with, and there were other smaller incidents that cropped up throughout the novel. I loved how some of these events crossed over into each other as I read, as it made the story exciting and entertaining. I really enjoyed this novel and I highly recommend it.
I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.
I AM A COWARD
I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was. I have always been good at pretending. I spent the first twelve years of my life playing at the Battle of Stirling Bridge with my five big brothers, and even though I am a girl they let me be William Wallace, who is supposed to be one of our ancestors, because I did the most rousing battle speeches. God, I tried hard last week. My God, I tried. But now I know I am a coward. After the ridiculous deal I made with SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden, I know I am a coward. And I’m going to give you anything you ask, everything I can remember. Absolutely Every Last Detail.
This was impressive. I had kept putting off reading Code Name Verity because I had no idea this was a YA novel when I got it, and when I found out that it was, my heart sank.
However, despite my reservations and some initial concern about the voice of the narrator, I could hardly put the book down. Sure, there are things you can pick apart, but in the end this was a tough spy story - and very much an adventure story that was engaging both mind and gut. And the latter was utterly wrenched.
Maybe it's because I have overdosed a little on Bond recently and a spy thriller from a female perspective was just what I needed as an anti-dote, or maybe it's because Wein takes great care with details without bragging about her research, or maybe it's because it's just nice to read a story about WWII that is not all about patriotism or nationalism or the clear division of good and evil, but this was a nice change of pace from my recent encounters with espionage thrillers.
The synopsis of this book didn't really intrigue me. I wouldn't have read it if it hadn't been recommended to me by a friend. I'm sorry to say I didn't end up liking it. Also, I just happened to read this at the same time as I was reading another book set in Nazi-occupied France (Sarah's Key). Weird coincidence.
The first part of the book is 203 pages and I was not buying it. The main character is a British spy who has been captured by the Nazis and is tortured until she agrees to give up everything she knows. She is then allowed to write a memoir in the process(???). Pages and pages of fluff that have nothing to do with anything. There's no way the Nazis would have put up with that waste of time. It straight-up confused me at times, as it seemed more like a diary than a confession and I thought that maybe my problem was that I was having trouble differentiating between what she was thinking and what she was actually writing for them. But no, I'm pretty sure she was supposed to have written that entire first part for the Nazis. I just couldn't believe it, and therefore, I couldn't get into the story. What's funny is that in the "Author's Debriefing", Wein said over and over that she wanted everything to be plausible and implausibility is exactly why I didn't like the book.
For the record, I did consider pretty early on the possibility that Julie is lying and not actually revealing any information to the Nazis, and I kept that in mind while I was reading. She was supposedly giving away information that would cause the deaths of countless people, so she acted ashamed of herself every once in a while, understandably. But at the same time, the way she described herself in her memoir was so cocky. It made no sense, further supporting my belief that she was BS-ing the info.
If there had been more mention of her torture, I might have believed her willingness to betray her country. If there had been more impatience from the Nazis, I might have believed her ability to write a book in order to stall for time. As it was, I was too distracted by the implausibility to enjoy the book.
Speaking of time, it seemed like she was held for a really long time and I wondered how the Nazis didn't realize at some point that she was feeding them false information. Ultimately, it's supposed to have been two weeks, if I remember correctly, so that's slightly more believable. But still, she seemed too unfazed to have been suffering torture for days.
Side note: Julie was captured because she looked the wrong way crossing the street, which seemed sketchy to me except that Wein said that actually happened to someone. How many times did I hear "Look both ways before you cross the street." when I was a growing up? Both ways. Were they not taught that back in the 1920s/30s?
Anyway, then comes the second part. I actually liked this part, so it made me angry.
I was slightly confused at first because I wasn't sure where we were on the timeline of the story when part 2 began. But the plot was much better. We find out that Julie actually hadn't told the Nazis anything, Engel is actually an ally, and we move forward in the plot to Julie's assisted suicide, which I thought was well-written. Overall, I think the insight into Julie's interview was my favorite part of the book. Je cherche la vérité.
The second part is supposed to explain/validate the first, but the first part just went on for so long, and I was so distracted and annoyed by it not making sense, that the second part can't possibly make up for it.
In addition to all that, throughout the whole book, the plane-talk (which I realize is the inspiration for the book) bored me. It wasn't continual, but it was too often to not affect my opinion of Code Name Verity. And I was often wondering how old the main characters are. Am I supposed to know? They seem like teenagers to me, but realistically, they have to be adults, right? Or older teens who have lied about their ages...
Anyway, to conclude this rant... ultimately, I like the plot a lot, but the execution of it was poor.