Tag Archives: friendship

Book #something – Code Name Verity

CNV cover rainbowI haven’t updated the list on this website in a week or two, so although I’ve finished CNV, I haven’t figured out what number it will be when I eventually write it down.

However! I enjoyed it so much that I had to come here and write about it, and I just couldn’t wait until I got home and checked what number it should be.

So! Here we go!

Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein

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.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called “a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel” in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.

I LOVED this book. I’ve seen it recommended in lots of ‘Best YA fiction’ lists and always meant to get around to reading it, but didn’t manage it until now. I regret waiting so long to have read it.
It’s the third (I think) historical fiction book I’ve read this year which is set in the WWII era (the first two being The Spring of Kasper Meier and The Book Thief) but it sits leagues ahead of either of them.

The book is written as Verity, a British prisoner, confesses her story to the Gestapo in a hotel in the French city of Ormaie – as she writes her story on any scrap of paper she’s given she paints a picture of the friendship she built with her pilot and best friend, Maddie, how two women ended up flying over Nazi-occupied France and the events that led to her capture.
As the story progresses, you begin to realise that perhaps Verity is not so reliable a narrator as one might have thought in the beginning – something which only adds to the story.

Somewhat unusually for a YA book, there is no romantic sub-plot whatsoever, but that didn’t detract from the book at all – it’s a beautiful and lyrical description of female friendship, the horrors of wartime and the love which exists between two girls and expands to encompass those around them.

I don’t have very much to say about this book, other than that I loved it. It’s brilliant, beautifully written, heart-wrenching, exciting, and highly, highly recommended.
It is, I think, the first and only five-star review I’ve given to a new read this year (Nix’s Old Kingdom trilogy gets five stars, but I decided that years ago) and if you only read one book reviewed on this blog, this should be it. A straight shoot into my favourites and as glowing a review as I can give a book. I now need to find the companion novel, Rose Under Fire, and find as much of Wein’s back catalogue as I possibly can.

Five Stars
*****

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Books #97 and #101-104 The Sisterhood Series

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Full Series The Sisterhood series is one of those series of books which both my sisters and I all ready – so much so, that I’m not actually sure which books belong to whom in the series. The first four sisterhood books were a complete arc, four books, four girls, four summers, and they resolved (or so I thought) the YA series which I was so fond of (although I always felt that Lena got shafted with the same storyline four times). So I was surprised when, last year, having discovered GoodReads, I realised that there was a fifth sisterhood book. It’s set ten years after the fourth one, and it promised some drastic changes…

In any case, I’m starting at the end, when I should start at the beginning!
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
The Second Summer of the Sisterhood

Girls in Pants
Forever in Blue
Sisterhood Everlasting – all by Ann Brashares.

The Sisterhood series follows four very different girls, who are the best of friends since birth. Lena, Tibby, Carmen, and Bridget were all born within seventeen days of each other, their mothers meeting at an aerobics class. The summer they all turned sixteen, the first they would ever spend apart, they found a pair of magic pants, which fit all four of them – from Tibby’s short stature to Lena’s classic Greek beauty, Carmen’s Latina ass to Bridget’s athletic build – not just fit them, but made them all look beautiful. Clearly a sign, the pants were what would hold the four of them together over their summer, passed between the girls like a magic bonding, a tangible sign of their sisterhood.
Over the first four sisterhood books, all of which are classed as YA fiction, we see the girls grow up, fall in love, have sex, make friends, lose friends, lose family members, gain family members, start college, find their callings, and stick closely to their September sisters.
The fourth book was published in 2007, when I was sixteen (although I was probably seventeen by the time I read it), and I considered the series done, a happy reminder of something my sisters and I shared, sitting in Sinéad’s bookcase. I enjoyed them all, although I considered Forever in Blue the weakest of the four, and would happily recommend them to anyone. I even had the first film on DVD, although I never managed to watch the second.

So I was surprised when, last year, I realised that there’s a fifth Sisterhood book. Called Sisterhood Everlasting, it’s set ten years after the fourth book, and the Septembers have grown apart. Living different lives, they’re called back together by Tibby sending them tickets to a holiday on the Greek island of Santorini, which played such a big part in their sisterhood before. But on their trip, the girls don’t realise that their lives will change forever.

Because it had been so long since I’d read the first four books, and I was home anyway, I read books 1-4 while I was home in Ireland during August. Sisterhood Everlasting, then, I had on my Kindle, and read on the plane home.

I’m not gonna go too much into the story of it, because I’m not keen on spoilers. Looking back completely neutrally, as far as plot and character development go, I should probably have given it a lower rating than I did. A few of the girls seem stuck in the same ruts that they’ve been in for the last thirteen years (for the LOVE OF GOD, Lena and Kostos) and poor Carmen gets shafted once again when it comes to romance, plus Bridget seems to be the same kind of madcap girl she was when she was sixteen, prone to running away as soon as things get tough. But, that said, perhaps people don’t really change that much from when they’re teenagers to when they’re nearly thirty – I’m not nearly thirty yet, so I am no authority on the subject.

At the time, I really enjoyed Sisterhood Everlasting. Looking back now, I could certainly pick holes in it, and make criticisms, but as an experience, catching up again with the Septembers (although very shortly after the last time I had read the first four books), learning what they had been through in the ten-year interim (turns out, not much…) and going through a tumultuous time when they found their sisterhood again, I thoroughly enjoyed it (and cried buckets).
As a standalone novel, perhaps Sisterhood Everlasting wouldn’t have gained such a high rating from me, but it certainly was a lovely, poignant, and beautiful addendum to a series which I thoroughly enjoyed when I was younger, and did again when I read it last month. Overall, I would have no hesitation in recommending the Sisterhood to any of my friends, or my sisters (although they’ve obviously already read them).

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Second Summer of the Sisterhood, Girls in Pants
Four Stars
****

Forever in Blue
Three Stars
***

Sisterhood Everlasting
Four Stars
****

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