March 2014 Archives

Code Name Bullshit


I was so excited about Code Name Verity. I have a thing for war literature in general (I've taught college courses on the topic) and combat literature in particular, and I'm always looking for something that explores women's roles in the military.

But then I actually cracked open the book.

here was me on page 1: Is this a joke?

me on page 2: Is this a sick joke?

me on page 30: Oh god, it's not just a sick joke. It's a sick BORING joke.

Code Name Verity can be summed up as Hogan's Heroes (a cheesy, late 1960s sitcom about how fun it is to be in a Nazi POW camp, in case you didn't know) meets Life of Pi.

It's Hogan's Heroes because the Nazis in CNV are NICE Nazis! Sure, they torture our heroine the narrator (OHTN) because she's a spy and they're trying to extract useful information from her. But they also really care about her--how can they help it, given how witty, clever, cultured, beautiful and sassy she is? Sure, she calls them names and mocks them, but it's just a sign of what a free spirit she is, someone who deserves their admiration and respect.

It's Life of Pi because OHTN has a plan, which both the Nazis ans the reader figure out right away! Her confession is going to take as long as possible and be filled with as many details and bits minutae as possible, ostensibly so she can "keep it straight in [her] own mind" (3) but really to buy time and point her captors in the wrong direction. And the really smart ones among her captors like it! Again, it just shows what a special, exceptional POW OHTN really is:


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