Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Review: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Title: Rose Under Fire
Series: Code Name Verity #2
Written by: Elizabeth Wein
Published: September 10, 2013 by Disney Hyperion

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. 

Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that's in store for her? 

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.

As you may know from my recent review of The Pearl Thief, I am a big fan of Code Name Verity. Reading The Pearl Thief, a prequel to CNV, only made me want to reread that book because I love it so much. So instead of doing that I decided to read the sequel which I have not read despite owning a copy for years. I'm glad that I did because this was a fantastic historical fiction read.

In this book, Elizabeth Wein takes us back to the lives of ATA pilots during WWII (in case you are wondering, yes we do get to see characters from Code Name Verity, but more on that later) but this time we see things from a different perspective of the war. This book took us to the Ravensbruck concentration camp. This one feels like a more traditional piece of historical fiction at the time. We get to see what it was like for those imprisoned by the Nazis. And it was truly horrific. Life at Ravensbruck was not as bad as some of the death camps but it was still terrible. You really get immersed in that world. The horror, the pain, the fear that came with it. It's a tough and emotional read as you see firsthand what people went through. You can tell the author did her research into what it was like for the women in the camp which made it all the more horrific.

And Wein once again proved that she is great at writing complex characters you can't help but relate to. Our main character is Rose Justice who is an ATA pilot alongside Maddie Broddart (now Beauford-Stuart which makes me just squee!). I was really happy to check back in to see what Maddie was up to but the real focus of this novel is on Rose. Rose is a really good main character. She's tough and resilient in the face of a lot of adversity, which is totally what you want in a protagonist. I also really liked that Rose showed her sensitive side. In addition to being a pilot she is also a poet. She wrote some absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking poems that feature prominently in the book. It gave the character a lot of depth. But I don't know that she even needed it. I loved Rose and her voice.

But Rose wasn't the only interesting and complex character in the book. Every character at Ravensbruk was complex and memorable. The camp was inhabited by a diverse group of young women from all over Europe. Probably one of the most memorable were Roza, the Polish "Rabbit" who was experimented on by the Nazi doctors at the camp. Despite everything she had been through, Roza was spunky and tough. She made me laugh and made me empathize. I also found Anna to be incredibly interesting. A lot of times you wonder about the Germans, the workers or leaders at the camps, and hearing from Anna her thoughts on what she had done, the regrets, and how she was attempting to make up for them was fascinating. But every character was just as engaging and complex.

But it's a good thing that the characters were so likable because so much of the heart of this book was in the characters and the way they interacted and related. Like Code Name Verity this is a book about friendship, sisterhood, and the connection you can make in the most unlikely of circumstances. When the book started we got to see the relationship between Rose and Maddie, which I totally appreciated. Seeing things from Maddie's perspective for a bit was super interesting. Then at Ravensbruk the young women really created this found family that was so amazing to see. They took care of one another and did things that could have gotten them to serious trouble to help each other. It gave the book a lot of heart and a lot of hope despite the adversity.

On the whole, Rose Under Fire was a great historical fiction book. It took the reader to an interesting period in history and immersed them in an dark and engrossing story. Plus it had amazing characters and a great story of friendship and found family. It was a fantastic read and I read it in just a few days.

I give Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you loved Code Name Verity and have not read this one you definitely need to. Fans of YA historical fiction, especially those set during World War II should definitely read it. It's a great read.

Have you read Rose Under Fire? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. WHAT?! I had no idea The Pearl Thief even existed! I loved both Verity and Rose so I will be buying The Pearl Thief ASAP. I loved CNV when I read it, but I loved Rose Under Fire even more. I loved the poetry dispersed throughout the novel as it added such a contrast to the horrors the characters were facing.
    Mallory @ The Local Muse

  2. I still haven't picked this one up, despite having it on my shelf for years... and that's partly because it just sounded SO DEPRESSING and I wasn't sure I could handle it, despite loving CNV to bits.

    I think now might be the time to pick it up, especially given that I'm kind of numb with dread right now about the real world, so some feels of the fictional type (& sisterhood!) might be in order. Great review!