Book: The Pearl Thief (Code Name Verity #0.5)
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Published By: Bloomsbury
Expected Publication: 4th May
I received this book for free via Netgalley, as usual, this in no way affected my opinion of this book.
As always, thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for allowing me to read this book.
I read Code Name Verity last year for my #RockMyTBR challenge, and fell in love with/was completely devastated by it, so naturally when I heard that Code Name Verity had a prequel coming out this year I was really excited. I requested it as soon as I saw it on Netgalley and was so happy when I got accepted.
Naturally my expectations for this book were very high, given how much I enjoyed Code Name Verity and I don’t know if my opinions of it suffered because of that. Before going into this all Code Name Verity fans should know that it is nothing like CNV. It’s more of a mystery novel and obviously does not have the same war setting. It got off to a pretty slow start, and the chapters were quite long, so it took a while for me to get into it, but I had the same problems with Code Name Verity initially so I wasn’t too worried about that.
I was thrown slightly off guard by how young Julie was in this, but then I think that’s just because I had assumed she was older than she was in CNV! Still, I loved Julie in this just as much as in CNV, her vibrant personality and chameleon tendencies means that she makes for a great narrator. She’s rebellious and impulsive and loves trying on different identities and it’s easy to see how the young Julie of this novel became the spy Queenie in Code Name Verity. The supporting characters were equally well drawn, flawed and interesting, but Julie is obviously the star of the show.
I really loved the addition of Scots in this, I thought it really added something to the setting to have the authentic Scots language in there. Plus I live in Scotland now so I love it when authors use it as a setting in their novels.
I loved that this book had chapter titles, it seems like such a little thing, but so few authors chapter their titles nowadays (myself included actually, my WIP doesn’t have chapter titles either!) that it makes me very happy when I see authors that do this.
The chapters were a little overly long which meant it took me a while to get into the book, it was about halfway through before I was actually genuinely invested.
I liked that the amnesia plot after Julie’s attack did not last too long, I hate it when authors let the “oh my character can’t remember what happened to them” run onto the end of the story because it gets boring and repetitive and this wasn’t the case here, Wein played Julie’s returning memory perfectly.
I loved that we got to see Julie and Jamie interacting in this, it’s clear from CNV that Jamie was incredibly close to his sister, but we don’t actually get to see them interacting, so it was really cool to actually get to see this relationship in The Pearl Thief.
Ellen and Julie’s relationship was wonderful, it’s pretty clear that Julie is bisexual, something which I feel was kind of hinted at in Code Name Verity but it was great to see it confirmed here. They have a very close, intimate friendship that has some romantic inklings, although nothing too serious. I loved seeing them interact, they come from two such different worlds and yet their personalities complement each other so well and it was great to see each one challenging the other’s world view.
I loved the diversity in this book as well, you have sexuality rep, you have class rep, you have disability rep and representation of travellers as well. I thought this was all done really well & I liked how so much of this book was based around challenging prejudice.
The mystery was okay, although I felt like there were certain plot twists that were just a little too convenient and it was a little slow. Still it was engaging enough, and I was definitely kept wanting to know what had happened to Julie and was pretty satisfied with the outcome. There were certain things that were introduced that I wasn’t certain what it had to do with the mystery but everything came together in the end which I liked.
WE GOT TO SEE WHERE JULIE GOT HER NICKNAME FROM AND IT WAS SO CUTE AND DAMN IT I LOVE JULIE AND ELLEN SO DAMN MUCH!
There was a bit at the end that I felt a little uncomfortable about, without meaning to spoil too much, where Julie is hit on by an older guy and he tries to push her further than she’d like to go, just a warning for those who could be triggered by attempted rape.
I loved the setting, it was great to see Julie in her element in her home setting and it was such a contrast having a beautiful setting like Scotland as compared to the war setting in CNV.
I would definitely recommend reading Code Name Verity first. There aren’t any spoilers for it in this book, so you are safe reading it first, but I think it’s better to read Code Name Verity first as in order to appreciate younger Julie, you have to see where she ends up. I feel like The Pearl Thief meant so much more to me having read Code Name Verity because you can see the seeds of older Julie being sown in this book, you get to see how she became the person she is in CNV and I feel like you have so much more appreciation for that if you’ve read CNV before this one.
The writing was pretty good and flowed nicely throughout the book.
Overall this was a decent mystery, but also a lovely coming of age story where we get to see at least the start of how this amazing character that we know from Code Name Verity became the person she was. It was a light story as opposed to the gut punch that was CNV, but I think that worked perfectly as the two stories kind of parallel each other. It was a little slow at times, but the wonderful cast of characters more than make up for the lack of pace & I think those who loved Code Name Verity will definitely enjoy this book.
My rating: 3.5/5
I’m not sure what my next review will be as this is a pre-scheduled review, but I’m sure you will find out soon!