Thursday, December 5, 2013

Review: Rose Under Fire

Rose Under Fire
Published: September 10, 2013

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.

My review:

Rose Under Fire is a companion novel to Code Name Verity. While the book can be read as a standalone, I recommend reading Code Name Verity first as there is some crossover of characters and spoilers for the book in Rose Under Fire.

While I thought Code Name Verity was a dark book, I felt this is even darker although you know the fate of the protagonist from the beginning. That is due to the setting and all the horrible things that Rose and the other women face in Ravensbrück. Elizabeth Wein does a good job of drawing the reader into those scenes with her descriptions and characters. There is a larger cast of characters but they have very distinct personalities. Initially I thought Rose reminded me of either Julie or Maddie from Code Name Verity but as the book progressed I saw that I worried for nothing. I admit that I was not a fan of her poetry at first but it came to be important to the story. 

I have read other books set in concentration camps that focus on the plight of Jews. This is the first novel that I've read that looks at the fate of political prisoners of France and Poland, particularly the "Rabbits", the Polish girls who were cruelly experimented on by Nazi "doctors". It was really difficult to read about what they went through and to worry over their fates. What makes it emotionally gut-wrenching is that these events are fictional depictions of things that really happened to people in the camps. Incidentally, this is the same camp where Corrie ten Boom (of The Hiding Place) and her sister Betsie were held for hiding Jews.

Rose Under Fire may be a painful book to read but it is inspiring too to read about these brave women and how they held on to their humanity and even helped each other at great personal risk. The Nazis did their best to dehumanize and demoralize the inmates, robbing them of their individuality and identity but Rose and the others held on to their names and memories and dreams. I liked how Rose used her poetry to help keep up morale or just bring a bit of beauty to such a dismal place. I also appreciated how the novel doesn't just end with liberation but looks at survivors' lives after release and the process of the war crime tribunals.

I found Rose Under Fire to be a worthy follow-up of Code Name Verity. It is the kind of story that moves you and leaves you with much to think about long after you've read it. If you are a fan of the first book, definitely give this a try. If you haven't read it yet, then pick up Code Name Verity

Note: I received an ARC for review purposed courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley


  1. Excellent review, both Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire are on my TBR stack, I'm going to make time for them early in 2014.

  2. I do so like this period in history. Thanks for the review.


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