December 28, 2012

Review: Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
Published: 2001, Broadway
Series: Jessica Darling, #1
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: Library ebook

This is my new hobby. I watch my life depart minute by minute. I anticipate the end of everything and anything -- a conversation, a class, track practice, darkness -- only to be left with more clock-watching to take its place. I'm continually waiting for something better that never comes. Maybe it would help if I knew what I wanted.

Jessica Darling, why did I not know about your existence sooner? I loved both the book and the character reading it right now and can only imagine how much I would have enjoyed reading about Jessica's experiences if I were closer to her age.

Life pretty much sucks for Jessica Darling. Her best friend Hope moved to Tennessee right before Jessica's sixteenth birthday, leaving Jessica to deal with a family who doesn't understand her, a friend group she does not want to be a part of, and limited motivation for school and sports. To top it off, her period has gone MIA and she can't sleep at night. And so Jessica believes she’s alone, with no one to really confide in as she goes through another mind-numbing year of adolescence. Through journal entries and letters to Hope, Jessica chronicles the events in her life from January 1 of her sophomore year to January 1 of her junior year.

Jessica Darling is possibly the most perfectly imperfect protagonist of any YA contemporary I've read. She is intelligent, sarcastic, perceptive, and angsty by turn. But who can really blame her? In all of my reading experiences, she is by far one of the easiest protagonists to identify with. She’s the high schooler who wants more out of her life, but just isn’t sure what form that “more” should take. 

As Jessica struggles to adjust to a life without Hope (ha), there is an intense emphasis on the self. Although she is both a star runner and holds one of the highest GPAs at her school, neither of those abilities defines her. Jessica defined herself in relation to Hope, her best friend, and with Hope no longer there, she's not quite sure who she is. She doesn't really want to be associated with the remaining girls in her friend group, whom she calls the Clueless Crew. She's not into material comforts like her her sister; in fact, she's so different from her sister that their mother has difficulties understanding Jessica. She's not into running quite enough to satisfy her father. And then there’s Marcus Flutie, resident druggie and playboy of the school, who keeps running into Jessica and seems to want something from her. So where does that leave Jessica? More than anything else, the novel explores Jessica's search for identity and authenticity. 

Many times I felt doses of ennui along with Jessica over the ridiculous behavior of the Clueless Crew, frustration over her family’s inability to connect with her, sadness over the Hope-shaped void in her heart, and curiosity laced with suspicion over Marcus’ intentions. This is how I like to think back on teenage years: through a strong investment in a modern teen protagonist, without actually having to truly re-experience anything myself.

Jessica's search for understanding is not easy. While she herself cannot be easily pigeonholed into any stereotypes, however, that does not stop Jessica from assigning stereotypes onto others. Some of them are warranted, others not so much. Although Jessica does start becoming more empathetic of others as the year continues, it's a slow process. For such an intelligent and aware teen, there are times when Jessica is ridiculously naive and overly critical.  

Nevertheless, it is through these relationships that Jessica forms with others that the novel really shines. While Hope may be physically absent from the story, her presence is still very much a part of Jessica’s life. Jessica not only highly values her friendship but is also able to regularly communicate with her friend. Even as an absent character, Hope is crucial to Jessica’s development. Shockingly, it is Marcus Flutie, the other secondary character, who really provides support to Jessica over the course of the year. Far from being simply another troubled young teen, however, Jessica and the readers come to realize that Marcus has much more to offer. And, most important of all, it is through their gradual friendship that Jessica is able to make some important realizations about herself, the image she projects to the world, and how she wants to be perceived. 

Although the cliffhanger is immensely frustrating, and I can tell it'll only get worse as the series continues, I still can't help but root for Jessica and Marcus' relationship. Both have their fair share of flaws, but every person (especially Jessica, with how her life's been going) deserves to be with someone who really understands her, and who is willing to help her become a better person. I think that Marcus can be Jessica's aid to self-improvement, as she can be his. I guess I have four more books to read before I can tell whether that happens!

I can finally admit that I understand all the hype surrounding one book. While I’m not generally the black sheep in regards to liking/disliking popular books, sometimes the hype stops me from even giving a book a chance. I am grateful that was not the case here! In Sloppy Firsts, Megan McCafferty creates a humorous and fresh look at teens through the eyes of the incomparable Jessica Darling. If for some reason you have yet to read this book, then I encourage you to do so!

I read Sloppy Firsts as part of a readalong with the fabulous Courtney, and, wow, was that fun to do. I loved having someone on hand for discussion. The only negative there was I wanted to devour the book in one sitting, but we had set strict reading limits for each day, leaving time for daily discussions. Still, though, it was lots of fun. Now I just need to go find a copy of Second Helpings!

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December 26, 2012

Waiting on Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights any upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Publication date: August 15, 2013

You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it. (Goodreads)
First of all, what a gorgeous cover! Although I do wish that the title was smaller so that I could really appreciate that striking image.

I hope that this doesn't turn into another typical paranormal romance, especially because the blurb sounds so promising! I am so intrigued as to why the Devil is residing in a sleepy, seaside town and what he's planning to do with Violet. And that last sentence! 

What are you waiting on?

I hope that everyone who celebrated Christmas yesterday had a wonderful day full of love and family!
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December 23, 2012

Review: Eona by Alison Goodman

Eona by Alison Goodman
Published: 2012, Firebird (Originally 2011)
Series: Eon, #2
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Source: Personal book
Contains spoilers for Eon (my review)

I know that love is about power, too. Who gives, who takes. Who is willing to risk showing their true self.

Eona, Dela, and Ryko have barely escaped from High Lord Sethon's forces at the imperial palace with their lives. They plan to meet up with rebel forces and attempt to restore Prince Kygo, the true emperor of the Realm of the Celestial Dragons, to the throne. But Eona is not the battle-ready Dragoneye that her allies wish her to be and lacks all but the most basic skills of a Dragoneye. Although she has learned that she can heal others, the healing comes at a high cost. She cannot easily commune with her dragon because whenever she enters the spirit realm, she is attacked by the ten bereft dragons whose Dragoneyes were so ruthlessly murdered by Lord Ido during Sethon's coup d’├ętat. And whenever she comes into contact with Kygo, she is overwhelmed by the desires and memories of Kinra, her traitorous ancestor. The realm may need dragon power to keep the natural forces and human ones at bay, but Eona cannot fulfill this role alone. As the other surviving Dragoneye, Ido is the only one who can assist Eona in restoring the true heir to the throne. If she and everyone else can learn to work with the man who betrayed their country. 

Although I may find myself in the minority, I actually enjoyed reading Eona even more than Eon. Once again, the story’s focus is on Eona's personal growth during a turbulent time. Whereas Eon focused on constructing one’s identity, however, Eona is all about power dynamics. As one of the last living Dragoneyes, Eona has the power to turn the tide in her country’s upcoming civil war. Unfortunately, Eona struggles not only with controlling this new found power, but also with varying expectations of how she should use her power. Kygo and Sethon's views on Dragoneye power are almost complete opposites, so Eona is left teetering precariously in the middle, unsure whether her powers are a tool for the country or more of a personal right. Even the secondary characters find themselves (in)directly giving Eona their thoughts of how her power should be used. 

This brings us to the love triangle of the story. Yes, technically there is one, which in itself is a bit surprising when one considers how Eon ended. Of Eona's two love interests in the story, one ended Eon hating her for her deception as the Lord Eon, while another wanted to use her powers, both as a Dragoneye and as a female, to take control of all. Neither was willing to accept Eona as a female, or even really as another human being. This unsympathetic and frankly misogynistic view of Eona continues to resonate throughout the second book, even as the competing men try to “win” her over to their sides. 

Goodman continues to excel at crafting nuanced, realistic characters. Our heroine Eona still has a lot to learn about herself, both as a Dragoneye and as a woman. Her list of mentors grows thin, however, as communicating with her dragon risks attack from the ten dragons mourning the deaths of their Dragoneyes, a rightful emperor who wants, first and foremost, to be restored to power, and the other surviving Dragoneye, a traitor. To whom should Eona turn for advice? How can she know what is right? Neither of these questions has easy answers, and, as Eona struggles to figure out what actions and beliefs make up her moral code, she discovers how her every action leads to major consequences. Eona is no heroine to whom everything comes easily, but rather her every move must be a mediation between what she wants and what is right. 

Complementing such a complex protagonist are many strong secondary characters. In the first book, Kygo is portrayed as the rightful heir to the Empire of the Celestial Dragons, but a little uncertain of his rights and not quite ready to take power. Although most of my feelings of goodwill for Kygo dissipate at the end of the first book, it is easier to sympathize with the Kygo of Eona. He is willing to make many difficult decisions and use others to his advantage, but he does truly seem to believe his actions are for the greater good. Ido’s characterization surprised me the most. Going from a twisted character I could easily hate to one I could sympathize with speaks volumes to Goodman’s wonderful characterization. At certain points in the novel I found myself agreeing more with Ido’s point of view than Kygo’s, and the tension between them, with Eona as the focal point, makes complete sense. Dela and Ryko both infuriated me immensely from time to time, but ultimately their abilities to have such an effect on me showed how realistically they, too, are written. In the turbulent time of Eona, no issue is easily solved and there is no single “hero.” 

Goodman fleshes out Eona's world even further in this book. Certain aspects of Eon that were either overlooked or simply taken for granted in the grand scheme of the first novel are now brought to the forefront in the sequel. Instead of simply accepting the symbiotic and powerful relationship between Dragoneyes and their dragons, Eona begins to question its origins. Through the second book, Goodman delves a little into the history of the Empire of the Celestial Dragons. As Eona learns about her ancestor Kinra, she and the readers can see history repeating itself, and how ultimately this civil war is simply part of a much greater struggle.

What distinguishes this battle from former ones is the cast of characters. Will Eona become simply another Kinra, or will she forge her own path? Once again, Goodman challenges her characters and readers with complex questions. Eona is a well-written and satisfying conclusion to Eona’s story. This is one series that I'll definitely come back to time and again. The Eon duology should be required reading for all fantasy fans, young adult and adult alike.
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December 21, 2012

Ralph Waldo Emerson & Book Overload

Courtney and I spend so many of our conversations discussing one of our mutual favorite pastimes: reading.  As we were talking about the pressures we sometimes feel as book bloggers to be constantly reading new material and posting our thoughts to our blog, I was reminded of this one class discussion I had earlier in the semester. The week's topic was on the idea of information overload and how people should handle this phenomenon.

Of all the readings that we had, I instantly made a comparison between Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay "Books" and the concerns and difficulties that I encounter as a book blogger. Emerson's speech and subsequent essay may have been intended to give college students advice about how to handle their workloads, but academia is not the only place to suffer from an information overload. The literary marketplace is literally inundated with books: the product of a book overload, if you will. Although the information overload that Emerson and other readings of mine alluded to is not quite the same as a book overload (mainly because reading books for pleasure does not have as long a history as reading informational books does), nowadays I'd argue that the problem is just as prevalent among "pleasure" books. All we need to do is look at publisher's seasonal catalogs, or posts detailing the month's new releases. There's no possible way that we can read all the books being published (especially on top of those already published we have yet to read).

How, then, do we pick and choose what books to read?

In his essay, Emerson gives three suggestions for how to process so many reading materials:
1. Never read any book that is not a year old
2. Never read any but famed (famous) books
3. Never read any but what you like

Well...the majority of book bloggers break the first rule all the time. But I understand where he's coming from. If we're reading books that haven't reached a large enough audience just yet, then how do we really know whether the book is good enough for our time? But by waiting around to see whether the book is good, we'll lose the chance to participate in the initial hype and the chance to be among the first of its readers. And then there are books that seem to become inexplicably popular yet aren't necessarily very good. Not such an easy dilemma. The second rule goes along with the first. But there's a decidedly murky area in determining what makes a book famous. Just that others are reading it? Does enjoyment play a role? Does it have to become a New York Times bestseller or on Oprah's book club to become famous? Emerson continues to explain that he believes the quality of a book matters, but, once again, there's no easy answer for determining that. His final point is by far the most confusing. We are to read what we like? Is that in disregard with his other two rules, or in conjunction with them? In other words, find books older than a year with positive reviews that you think you'll enjoy. It's not nearly so cut-and-dry an argument in Emerson's essay, as he goes on to try to explain his suggestions in further detail. But, then, neither is the process of determining which books to privilege with your reading time.

One way that I have been managing the book overload issue is by avoiding opportunities to receive galleys and ARCs. My logic is that I'd rather wait and read some reviews from bloggers before deciding whether the book is worth my time if I decide that it is, I then can borrow it from the library, buy for my Kindle, or (if I'm particularly certain that I'll like it) buy a physical copy of it from my local bookstore. I'm also very skeptical in regards to hype. With working full-time and attending grad school, I just don't have the time to read books that I'd consider to be sub-par. I'm sure that I'll change my mind at some point, but as long as I have some certain standards and can give a rational explanation of why I want to read certain books, perhaps that will be enough.

I am curious to hear what others think about this issue. What's a book blogger (or any reader, for that matter) to do?
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December 19, 2012

Waiting on Weather Witch by Shannon Delany

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights any upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

 Publication date: June 25, 2013 
In a vastly different and darker Philadelphia of 1844, steam power has been repressed, war threatens from deep, dark waters, and one young lady of high social standing is expecting a surprise at her seventeenth birthday party–but certainly not the one she gets!

Jordan Astraea, who has lived out all of her life in Philadelphia’s most exclusive neighborhood, is preparing to celebrate her birthday with friends, family and all the extravagance they might muster. The young man who is most often her dashing companion, Rowen Burchette, has told her a surprise awaits her and her best friend, Catrina Hollindale, wouldn’t miss this night for all the world!

But storm clouds are gathering and threatening to do far more than dampen her party plans because someone in the Astraea household has committed the greatest of social sins by Harboring a Weather Witch. (Goodreads)
Steampunk Philadelphia? I haven't read too many steampunk books yet, nor many that have chosen a historical Philadelphia as their setting. The idea of a high-society historical Philadelphia meshed with paranormal and steampunk elements sounds interesting to me! I love the cover and I'm very intrigued as to what a weather witch is, and what the implications of harboring one entail.

What are you waiting on?
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December 18, 2012

Top Ten Books I Read in 2012

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the bloggers of The Broke and the Bookish. This week we are supposed to list the top ten books we read in 2012. This actually wasn't that hard for me to figure out which books made my top list - partially because I haven't read too, too many books this year, partially because my favorites just always manage to stand out to me.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo - I really enjoyed this book. Yes, I've read all those negative posts about how Bardugo doesn't use enough Russian authenticity in her Russian-inspired world (Let me just pause and focus on the fact that Ravka was inspired by Russia and was never supposed to be Russia). But you know what? I don't care. It's a well written, interesting book and I enjoyed the new sort of world Bardugo built for her high fantasy. Alina is a very relatable protagonist and that ending! I can't wait to see what happens next!

Graceling & Fire by Kristin Cashore - I remember reading and enjoying Graceling years ago, but all the hype surrounding the release of Bitterblue this past year made me want to re-read Graceling and then read its sequels/companion novels Fire and Bitterblue. I adore everything about this series, from the fact that each focuses on a different character who is a strong female protagonist in her own right. I loved Graceling and Fire a bit more than I loved Bitterblue. Graceling and Fire really explored the limits of what it means to be human and "normal" for their two protagonists.

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst - Another quality high fantasy that was released this year, this time taking place in a desert world. Liyana is a wonderful protagonist and Durst skillfully weaves together legends, mythology, and new cultures to create a wonderfully real world. I loved the philosophical questions that Durst posed about sacrifice for the greater good and whether it was wrong to have personal wants and desires with one's own life.

Eon & Eona by Alison Goodman - Through an Asian-inspired fantasy world, this duology creates its own Chinese mythology, examines gender roles, and has created a flawed, powerful, and incredibly realistic protagonist. I loved reading this story through Eona's first-person perspective. And I have yet to go wrong with political machinations leading a fantasy. Although Eona has the power to control dragons, I loved how they were basically confined to a spirit world and most of her power is spiritual and therefore internal, as are her struggles.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman - I will never not love every protagonist who has a major identity crisis, but I think that Seraphina takes the cake this past year. In a world where humans and dragons live in a precarious peace, neither willing to admit the other's innate traits and characteristics, Seraphina is someone who should not exist: she's the daughter of a dragon and a human. The story itself has many major issues at stake, from political machinations to prejudice to forbidden romance, and at the center is Seraphina, struggling to accept her own identity.

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta - A high fantasy that examines the political/societal/cultural implications of displacement and loss of identity. A flawed hero who wants to bring the displaced people of his country back together. If this sounds like the recipe for a wonderful high fantasy, that's because it is. Not only is Finnikin a great hero, but Evanjalin is utterly fantastic and together the two of them really bring out the best in the other.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta - I don't like contemporary YA novels as a general rule. I like using books to expand my imagination, rather than reading about people who could live very similar lives to mine. But this mindset of mine was altered after reading Jellicoe Road. The book was actually incredibly difficult to get into, but all my reading struggles were worth it once I saw how Marchetta deftly wove together different storylines and time periods in this spectacular novel. Because of this book, I'm not quite as resistant to contemporary YA novels.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - Everything about this story is so subtle and atmospheric. As a general rule, I dislike dual narration. I'm one person and have a limited understanding/view of the world, so sometimes I feel like authors are copping out by using multiple points of view. But I actually did love the dual narration of Sean and Puck. It really helped me understand both characters' motivations and the growing relationship between them. Such a beautifully written book that also defies the idea that there has to be tons of action in YA books.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - Taylor hands-down wins the award for the most stunningly written story. Everything about Daughter of Smoke and Bone is beautifully descriptive, which made for a unique and satisfying reading experience. This is also probably the most imaginative book I've read not only this year, but for many years now. I loved reading about the hidden world of seraphim and chimera and how protagonist Karou fit into their neverending battle.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - I'm pretty sure that no female friendships will ever compare to that of Maddie and Verity. Their friendship is tested in so many ways during World War II and is unsurprisingly tragic, but it's also one of the most raw and realistic female friendships I've ever read about. I also loved the unreliable narration. Plus through the story of two young friends in World War II, we are able to envision the war effort in new, powerful ways.

I'll still be reading throughout the holidays, so it's possible that I could find another book or two that should be added to this list. But they'll have to be some pretty impressive books to be added to this list.

Agree with any of my choices? Let me know what your favorite books of 2012 are!
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December 17, 2012

Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Published: 2012, Hyperion
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Source: Library book
Goodreads · Amazon · Barnes & Noble

But I have told the truth. Isn't that ironic? They sent me because I am so good at telling lies. But I have told the truth.

I had to reflect a few days after finishing this book before I could even begin to collect my thoughts into anything resembling coherent words. Reading this book made me experience such a wide range of emotions, not all pleasant. But, reflecting back on my experience reading the book, I still retain a sense of awe for such a wonderful story. Through this book Elizabeth Wein has crafted a story of hope and an incredible friendship during World War II. Although glowing reviews abound for this novel, I wanted to add my two cents of support.

On the Western Front of World War II, Maddie, the granddaughter of a bike shop owner, and Verity, an upper-class Scot, meet by chance and find their lives inexorably linked as they both serve the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and gradually form a friendship. After many months serving the Allied forces within England, Maddie volunteers to fly Verity to France for a mission. Their plane is hit and Verity parachutes to land, only to be captured by the Gestapo and told that the pilot's remains have been found within the plane. Heartbroken and alone, Verity agrees to tell her captors/torturers Allied secrets in exchange for borrowed time. The story that Verity tells, however, is not simply about Allied secrets, but about the relationship between Verity and Maddie.
I have such a weakness for unreliable narration. Even though I'm the most gullible and oblivious reader ever, it gives me great pleasure to read a story with an unreliable narrator. Whether or not I know upfront if the narrator is reliable or not, I get such a delight over reading (or going back to reread) a story and trying to determine which parts are "truthful." I knew that, despite Verity's allegations to the contrary, her reports of Ally secrets to the Nazis were not going to be entirely truthful. Even so, I found myself fascinated to learn what could have been the story of Verity and Maddie along with Verity's Nazi captors. 
The second half of the novel is told from a new perspective through another character, Kittyhawk, and it is through this part that everything became clear and so gloriously rewarding for me. While I did enjoy Verity's narration, certain parts were a bit difficult for me to truly grasp. Verity is very conscious of her audience both the Nazis with whom she is revealing key Allied intelligence, and the Allied forces she hopes will eventually read her entries — and the novel's readers don't fit into either group. This is obviously a deliberate decision on Wein's part and I appreciated Verity's narrative all the more for it. It was nice, however, for Kittyhawk to provide an easier entrance into the world of Great Britain's section of Allied pilots and our heroines.
I found both protagonists of the story to be very likable. While I know that a lot of people struggled with their feelings towards Verity — she is narrating her history to enemy forces, after all — I never really had that problem. From the sharp wit infused in her storytelling to her decision to refer to her story self in third person, I had a feeling from the beginning that there was much more to Verity than her initial introduction. Verity is aware that she's near the end of her life and although she's agreed to divulge Allied codes and secrets, she's no terrified prisoner of war. Verity frequently challenges her captors both through her writing and directly to their faces. Even being captured and believing that her people will view her as a traitor, Verity remains uncowed. She's one of the strongest heroines I've ever read and I thoroughly enjoyed her twisty narrative.
Through Verity's narration, Maddie starts out as the more easily likable heroine. Once the narration switches to Kittyhawk's point of view, Maddie continues to be a worthy protagonist. Although I did think that Maddie had a much greater chance of falling into the likable, good, but somewhat bland heroine mold, fortunately that was not the case. Whereas Verity almost idealizes Maddie, Kittyhawk brings a much more realistic side to Maddie's character. Although the technical details fell a little flat for me, I absolutely loved Maddie's passion for flying planes and her determination to help others by doing what she loves to do, regardless of the fact that she's a woman in a traditionally male-dominated career.
Where Code Name Verity really shines, however, is in its depiction of Verity and Maddie's friendship. Both of them are incredibly well-defined in their own right, and together they form a wonderful team. Any hints to potential romance are subtle. The story is about Verity and Maddie's friendship: how they cause one another to grow into a strong woman with good morals, and how incredibly supportive they are of one another. According to Verity's narration of their lives with the Allied forces, Verity and Maddie frequently spent time apart. But those moments they had together were enough to forge a realistic and heartrendingly beautiful friendship. When Verity first explains how she and Maddie became friends, she uses this little gem: "It's like being in love, discovering your best friend.” Yes. This little phrase perfectly encapsulates the relationship between Verity and Maddie. 
Not only do Verity and Maddie have an enviable friendship, but I loved how Wein chose to focus solely on the ties of a strong friendship within her novel. Too frequently we're force-fed stories of love surviving challenging circumstances amidst great odds. Love is supposed to be the great uniter, the fount of hope. But this hope is reserved for romantic love, more often than not. Which is a shame, because many times friendships will outlast romantic love interests, especially for teens and young adults. It was with great pleasure, therefore, for me to read this story that focuses on Verity and Maddie and their relationship to each other. 
I also appreciated how Code Name Verity allowed me to look at a major historical event from another perspective. Through my U.S. school system I certainly learned a lot about World War II — mainly from America's perspective, and certainly more about the men who fought rather than the women who stayed home or fought. Not only does Code Name Verity show the Western Front through the perspective of the people of the British Isles, but the focus is on two women who become involved in the war effort. There's a vast different between vaguely knowing that some women were involved in the war effort and reading an account (albeit a fictionalized one) where women are actively participating in the fight. World War II is one of the wars most widely spoken of and popularized through all forms of media, so I definitely appreciate being able to gain new knowledge or a different perspective of it.
The sole qualm I had with the story is it's classification as a Young Adult novel. Verity has graduated high school (or at least I assume her Swiss boarding school went through high school). Both Verity and Maddie are treated as adults and have adult wartime responsibilities throughout the novel. Now, I don't want to be perceived as thinking the book is too mature for young adult readers; rather, I think that this is a book that could and should be enjoyed equally by adults and I wonder if placing it within the teen section of a bookstore or library will give it the awareness it so clearly deserves.
Regardless of your age, Code Name Verity is a solidly written, thought-provoking, and emotionally-driven novel of two courageous young women in the midst of World War II. Even if this does not sound like your typical type of novel, I highly recommend reading Code Name Verity — it is an experience that should not be missed.
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