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Code Name Verity - Full Book Discussion

Code Name Verity
Full Book Discussion

Code Name Verity

Ideas for discussion:
1) Why do you think they are willing to give Queenie so much time to write her confession?
2) Does the change in narration PoV's help or hurt the story?
3) How well do we really get to know Julie ("Verity")? What of her confession is "true"?
4) Maddie makes a life-or-death choice that you will probably never have to face. Given a similar bond of friendship, what would you do if you were in a situation that required you to hurt someone you loved?
5) What did you think of this book overall, and what rating would you give it?
6) Any other thoughts on the book you'd like to share with us?

questions borrowed from bookbrowse.com

Next Discussion:
The Tea Rose (The Tea Rose, #1)
Monday, September 17th
Through Ch. 17


1) I think past of it was that for a while, she wasn't really anyone all that important. She might have some information they would find useful, but they had a lot else to deal with and probably figured she might let slip something she didn't mean to. Also, there was probably the influence of Engel, and the guy in charge's love of literature, and her own persuasiveness.

2) I think it helped. Especially with the central friendship in the story, I think it was incredible to get to see it from the perspective of both participants, and that made the emotional punch of the high points that much stronger.

3) The story of her friendship is the truest part, I think. I was so, so glad Maddie got a chance to read it

4) I like to think I'd be strong enough, but I fear I may have a coward's heart in the matter. Still, to let someone suffer when they're specifically asking to be freed from it and you're the only one who can do so feels wrong, to me.

5) I was really confused at the start. I had no idea why people were rating it so highly. It was a decent read, but not all that gripping, especially given the subject matter. And then we hit the second half, and it was like a light was suddenly shining in a new way on that first half. I loved it, I gave it a 4, and while I now understand that slow start, it still *Is* slow, which is why I didn't give it a 5. Still, I'm very glad I bought this instead of borrowing it, and I plan to go back and re-read the start one of these days to see how it reads differently when I know what's going to happen.

6) This got discussed on GR as well, but it was so nice to get an intimate portrait of two female friends, of how their friendship grew, and the shape of it and everything. I wish there were more such books.
1) On one level, I think that Von Linden has a definite... well, soft spot is the wrong word, I think. Guilt is probably closer. Guilt about Julie, being a female agent and not only that but young and well-educated. I think she must remind him of his own daughter, and then she asks biting questions about his daughter. Not only that, but he is able to discuss intellectual subjects with her. I think she gets under his skin. I also think Engel maybe has some influence.

2) I think it helps the story immensely, by taking what we think we know about the situation and twisting it all sideways.

3) Her love for Maddie is true. I also think some of her moments of weakness are true. Her bravery also is true. I wonder now how much she knew about what was going to happen to her, and to know that ahead of time and still go through with it...

4) I don't know. I like to think I could be strong and do it under pressure, but I have no idea.

5) I gave it a 5/5 on Goodreads. This book had been on my radar for awhile because of all the rave reviews so I'm glad we got to read it as a group. It wasn't perfect but the portrait of a friendship in a time of struggle, and the way the second half pulls it all together really impressed me. I had a lot of feelings reading this book - it was both difficult and rewarding for me. On the surface, it's a war story, but the truth is really, it's the story of friendship between two unlikely young women and on that strengh I think it succeeded brilliantly.

6) Just that I loved this book. It starts a little slow but once I got into part 2, a new light was shed on almost everything from part 1. [Spoiler (click to open)]And that last "Kiss Me Hardy".... I read this on vacation and I was sitting in a hotel room bathtub bawling at that. Anyone who's struggling with the first half of the book: please at least get to part two and see if it doesn't pick up for you then.
1) I really...can't think of a realistic reason for this. This was actually one of the issues I had in the beginning with suspension-of-disbelief. It didn't make sense to me that these ruthless Nazi interrogators would tolerate all the un-related babble she is writing about.

But with what we learn about Linden and Engle later on, I feel like what the author says in the "debriefing" is true -- it's a plausible situation that makes for a good story, if not entirely realistic or accurate. From that angle, I would venture to guess that Queenie used her charisma and acting skills to emotionally manipulate them...and that her stories of peacetime friendship etc preyed on Linden's and Engel's consciences.

2) As much as I wound up loving this book, I do still feel that the first-person to third-person shifts in the first half of the novel hurt the book. It gave me such troubles with suspension-of-disbelief that I probably would have stopped reading it if not for the book club.

When the PoV switches to Maddie halfway through though, I feel like that was a very strong and good and powerful choice. I nearly dropped the book when I got to that point lol! Practically did not put the book down from that point on, and stayed up till midnight in order to finish the book.

3) I think we learn more about Queenie in retrospect (reading Maddie's view of her, learning that Queenie did not actually betray any codes etc, and then thinking back on what we'd read from her PoV in a new light) than we do while we're actually reading Queenie's records. I'm looking forward to re-reading this in a year or two with this perspective to apply to the first half of the book.

4) I'd like to think I would be able to if I absolutely had to and there was no other way. I've made similar decisions for beloved pets (ie euthanasia). I wanted to do it for my father (ie pull his life support), but unfortunately that decision was in my mother's hands so his suffering dragged on.

In Maddie's specific situation though, I would probably have attempted to shoot the two guards. I'm actually confused why that wasn't an option -- there were only two guards there at the time and it seems to me that it would have been possible to shoot them both before they could shoot anymore prisoners. But it was late and I was reading through that scene very quickly (adrenaline!), and I know nothing about guns and shooting etc, so maybe I'm mistaken.

5) I wound up absolutely adoring this book, and it's gone on my favorites shelf. I would give it a 4.5 if half-ratings were possible. On GR I rounded up and gave it 5 because I loved it so much, otherwise I'd have rounded down to a 4.

Over-all, the author summed up my feelings perfectly -- it made for a very enjoyable and plausible and wonderful story, even if it's not always completely realistic or accurate. The characterizations were amazing and wonderful. And I think the author really shined in Maddie's journal entries -- they felt so raw and real, I was completely lost in them and I could not drag myself away from the book.

In fact, after finishing it, I was still so caught up emotionally with Maddie and Queenie et al, that I couldn't bring myself to start a new book until a few days after. That is pretty rare for me, usually I go straight from one book to another.

6) In the past year I've actually been noticing and being sad for the lack of female 'buddy movie' stories (both in film and print). And then this book comes along and fills the gap perfectly.

I actually think this book would translate to the screen wonderfully. The first half of the book, with its shifts from first-person-present-time to third-person-flash-backs, would lend itself beautifully to cinematography. I'm hoping it does get made into a movie at some point, as long as it is well-done and stays faithful to the book and its heart of friendship. Peter Jackson could do a splendid job with it I think.

I was also absolutely thrilled with the author's extensive and fascinating bibliography. I've added most of those books to my to-read list. My history-nut side is going to be in seventh heaven for a long time with those!
Just discovered that the author's 'blog' is actually a livejournal!

1) Queenie's confession... I thought was written so beautifully. I feel like she wasn't seen as someone who was important so whatever information they could get they were going to use. Still, it was touching, and lovely and gaaah...

2) At first I thought maybe it hurt the narrative because it lacked the clarity (I definitely hurt a bit of the first half for me), but once I got use to HOW she was using it, it started to make more sense and added a nice layer of emotion to the story. I started to appreciate what she was trying to do with it.

3) Oh my goodness the friendship. I love that this novel focused entirely on a friendship and one that was so strong and beautifully composed. I was so happy Maddie got to read everything after all was said and done, but god did it hurt reading that bit.

4)I think I could do it considering all the hardships I've faced in my life. Honestly, I'm not sure. If it was actually happening to me I question how strong I actually could be in the process. :/

5) I gave this book a 4 out of 5 on goodreads, but it was likely closer to a 4.5. The narration was difficult and the pace was very slow at first. However, as I've told every person I've recommended it to, if you can get past these two things the story is SO rewarding, especially at the end. I teared up when Maddie had to make her choice. Still, the struggles and the way this friendship was portrayed was so beautiful and touching... it's something you just don't see a lot of anymore in life and in fiction.
1. I think it's hard to say, but I think they were willing to give her the time she wanted in order to get the information they needed. I think Mags also hit the nail on the head in regards to how von Linden might have felt about her.

2. I definitely thought it hurt it at first, but once I realized what was going on, I really started to enjoy the story. But at first, it definitely drew me out of the story and I was frustrated because I wanted to find out what was going to happen to Julie.

3. I think the parts about her friendship with Maddie are true. Other than that, I'm not sure that much of anything is true. It's hard to tell since she acted like some information that they forced out of her was something super secretive or important, when in reality she was lying about all of it. That she basically also managed to pass along a message to help them get into the hotel at the end was kind of awesome.

4. I'd like to think that I could do it, but I don't really know. :( This part of the book made me really upset. T_T

5. I rated it a 4. At first, it was more of a 3 (I liked it, but the rocky beginning really, really put me off at first), but then once things started to come together, I couldn't put it down, and I really want to reread it now that I know what's going on to see what else I can figure out. :) This is definitely a book with reread value. :P

6. I loved the depiction of friendship in this book. I also thought that Julie was an amazing unreliable narrator, which is part of why I want to reread this at some point. I think I'll appreciate the earlier chapters a lot more now that I know what's going on, and now that I won't be torn over how I'm supposed to feel about Julie as a person.

January 2015


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