Review Blog

Aug 12 2020

The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein

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Code Name Verity. Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781526601650.
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Elizabeth Wein delivers another stunning, engrossing story of war-time pilots and dogfights, espionage and friendship which will thrill her many fans, but can also be read as a stand-alone. Louisa Adair has been left an orphan, her mother killed in the Blitz and her father at sea. Desperate for a job, she hides her age and Jamaican background, and finds work caring for Johanna von Arnim, a retired German opera singer, whose niece lives near Windyedge Airfield in Scotland. There she meets Jamie, the 19-year-old pilot who flies Blenheim bombers and Ellen a driver for the RAF and becomes involved in a conspiracy to find a codebreaking machine known as the Enigma.
Told in three voices, that of Louisa, Jamie and Ellen, the reader is immersed in their lives and the stirring events that occur around them. Louisa is the daughter of an English music teacher and Jamaican sailor and must fit in, while Ellen hides her Traveller background to avoid prejudice. Jamie's arguments with his commanding officer mean that he is willing to hide the Enigma machine so that he can get an advantage over the superior German aircraft.
Descriptions of the bombing raids, the intense pressure that the pilots were under and the grief when friends are killed will keep readers glued to the page as they follow the exploits of Jamie and his comrades. They will also find it easy to identify with Louisa and the growing bond she has with the old woman who has taken the English name of Jane Warner, to fit in at the pub that her niece owns.
This is an exciting and emotional story that I could not put down. It was mesmerising to read about the youth of the bomber pilots, their heart-breaking losses, the work of young women in World War 2 and the importance of breaking the German codes. The Enigma Game follows The pearl thief, and comes before the heart-breaking Code Name Verity and Rose under fire and readers who haven't yet read them can expect the same compelling and outstanding stories of courage and strong young people.
Pat Pledger

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