2 out of 4 stars
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Code Name Lily by Julien Ayotte is a historical fiction novel based on true WWII events. It reveals the little-known story of the Comet Line, an organization within the Belgian Resistance working to rescue Allied soldiers and smuggle them to safety. At the same time, Gerry Papineau, an American soldier, is thrilled and honored to fight in the war. However, he has no idea about what’s waiting for him in Europe. Code Name Lily uncovers the story of Micheline Dumon-Ugeux, the unexpected leader of these secret missions, and how her incredible efforts impacted the lives of countless Allied soldiers.
Code Name Lily contains a structure that is typical for historical fiction novels, especially ones that tell stories from different points in time. It continuously jumps back and forth between past and present, as well as the stories of several characters. While this could keep the story fresh and exciting, this was also a drawback, as I found it to be confusing. It felt this way at the beginning of the book when the reader is trying to remember all of the information they are given, especially in a historical fiction novel like this one. It also greatly disrupted the flow of reading. Every time the book switched back to another storyline, it was when the one I had been reading was starting to become more interesting.
My favorite aspect of Code Name Lily is the educational element that it contains. This book taught me much about the Belgian Resistance, which I had limited previous knowledge of. I think that it is important for people to read this book and know this story, as not many people may have learned about it. Also, this book had a pleasant conclusion. Sometimes historical fiction books can leave the reader bereft of information about what occurs after, but this book satisfies the reader and concludes without raising any questions.
Although there were a few things that allowed me to enjoy my reading experience with this book, there were several elements that I disliked. My least favorite aspect was the writing, which was much too detailed. Though this book is historical fiction, I found that a vast amount of detail was placed into parts of the book that didn’t require it, like random events or the relations of characters. It made what could have been an exciting story become dull and boring, especially at the beginning of the book when the reader doesn’t care about minuscule details having to do with characters they barely know. My other significant issue with this book is the characters, who are hard to recognize due to the lack of description of the way they act and how their dialogue feels. They have limited defining traits, and the only description of the main character is that she looks like a teenager, which the reader is reminded numerous times throughout the book.
I rated this book two out of four stars. I did appreciate learning about this important historical story, but the slow, choppy pace and writing that was needlessly detailed caused me to withdraw two stars. However, this book is edited well and I found only small and unusual mistakes. For example, there was one inconsistent spelling error when the name Creswell was spelled "Cresswell." Not only adults can read this book, but young adults who do not mind the tedious pace can read it. Overall, Code Name Lily contains an important story that should be read, but it is only for those who can tolerate this type of writing and structure.
Code Name Lily
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