So there’s this thing that YA novels tend to do, which is to have a super-angsty first-person narrator, and boy do I hate it. So despite some positive reviews, I bounced off of Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity at the first sentence: “I am a coward.”

But, curious about it later, and informed that it wasn’t quite as YA angsty as it seemed, I gave it another go, and can tentatively recommend it to those who share my aversion. Only tentatively, because yes, it does have elements that subvert the cliche, but at the same time, when you’re subverting a genre subtly, the lived experience of reading the work is pretty close to reading the genre being subverted. A novel that’s playing with the forms of epic quest fantasy is still going to read like an epic quest fantasy, and one that’s playing with the forms of angsty YA is going to read like angsty YA.

Still: It did have that note of subversion, and I did read through the book quickly to see what happened next, so it’s obviously got a lot going for it. And if you’re less allergic to the angst than I am, I can recommend it more strongly yet.


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