Monday, April 27, 2020

The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein - OPTIONAL

The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein, 413 pages. Hyperion, 2020. $20. 

Language: R (55 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG;



After losing both her mother and father to the violence of WWII, Louisa Adair, a 15yo living in London, must find her own way in the world. As a daughter of an English mother and a Jamaican father, Louisa faces an upward battle with finding work due to discrimination. By hiding her race, she finds a job caring for an elderly German woman in Windyedge, Scotland, but wishes she could do more to support the war effort. Expecting an isolated, unexciting job, Louisa finds herself in possession of an Enigma machine left by a German defector, the instructions for how to use it, and indecipherable messages picked up from radio operators flying from the Windyedge base. Along with Jamie Beaufort-Stuart, a pilot; Ellen McEwen, a driver for the Air Force and a Traveller (gypsy); and Jane Warner (Johanna von Arnim), the woman Louisa cares for whose German identity is secret, Louisa uses the machine to help the RAF posted in Windyedge to bring down subs and prevent a number of attacks. But when the codes run out and it appears that the Germans have set a trap, Louisa and her friends must figure out how to proceed.

Those who have read Code Name Verity will recognize Jamie, who is one of the leading characters in this novel, and his sister Julie, who shows up toward the end with a secret identity; however, you don’t have to have read Code Name Verity to enjoy this book. It wasn’t clear how things would turn out so I wanted to read to the end to see how the novel tied up, and especially to find out the result of what the main characters guess was a trap. The characters were likable, and I enjoyed seeing how they solved the riddles of the German messages. It was an enjoyable book, but I was hoping for something I loved as much as I loved Code Name Verity and this didn’t live up to it for me in terms of my investment in the characters or the intensity of the plot. For those history buffs out there, Wein appears to have done her research, which she provides an explanation of at the end. Overall, I liked the book, but it wasn’t a “wow” for me. Ratings were marked PG-13 for mature content because of the characters smoking and PG for violence because the deaths and battle scenes were not described in a violent way.

Reviewer: Marinda, HS teacher

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