Book Review – Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Posted September 19, 2013 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA / 6 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth WeinRose Under Fire Series: Code Name Verity #2
on September 10th 2013
Pages: 483
Format: eARC


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.

Code Name Verity series

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein {My Review}

‘Hope is the most treacherous thing in the world. It lifts you and lets you plummet. But as long as you’re being lifted, you don’t worry about plummeting.’

Rose Under Fire tells the story of Rose Justice, an American pilot who is captured and sent to the concentration camp Ravensbrück which held primarily women and children. The beginning of the story is a short, day to day accounting in epistolary (journal) form of her duties as a pilot. After, she transcribes everything she remembers from her experiences in Ravensbrück and how she managed to be one of the few who lived to tell the tale.

The horrors that Rose and the thousands of other women suffered through at Ravensbrück will break your heart. There isn’t a lack of detailing either, the story is vividly retold making it disturbingly palpable. It also doesn’t help to know that while the story is fictional, Elizabeth Wein’s story is based on fact and is a slight retelling of actual survivors from Ravensbrück.

Over a six year period between 1939 and 1945 over 130,000 women and children resided at the camp; some were transported to other camps, some survived till the end of the war and most died within those walls. Out of that inconceivable number only a reported 15,000-32,000 managed to survive. The most horrid aspect of what went on at this camp are the details of the medical experimentation that was done on a reported 86 women that were known from then on as ‘Rabbits’. I will avoid detailing this as you’ll receive enough within the book itself, but the fact that even a single one of those women were able to survive is astounding.

Rose Under Fire is a companion novel to Code Name Verity. It’s not necessary to have read CNV prior, but I would definitely recommend it. Code Name Verity came close to being a DNF for me only because it was overly focused on the mechanical aspects of piloting but Julie was an amazing character. Rose Under Fire is a much more prevalent and typical tale of a WWII survivor; an incredible character possessing a perseverance that was truly admirable.



6 responses to “Book Review – Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

  1. latenightswithgoodbooks

    Before I read this book, I hadn't even heard of the Ravensbruck camp. I'm not sure if it's just not as well-known and taught like other Nazi-controlled camps were, but in many ways I think that made Rose's story that much more powerful. It was tragic. But I did appreciate how Wein also instilled hope into the novel. I agree that Rose Under Fire in many ways is more like a traditional WWII story than Code Name Verity was, but I found it to still be powerful and unique and so good. (And I'm sure fewer people even contemplated DNFing this one haha). Lovely review!
    My recent post Top Ten Best Sequels Ever

  2. I hadn't heard of Ravensbruck before reading this either, and so I feel like I was somehow more horrified while reading than I expected to be. I've always been saddened deeply and repulsed by what when on at these camps, but I'd never heard of the Rabbits before. This was such a powerful book, and I think it had a more accessible main character too. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it since you almost DNF'd Code Name Verity. Wonderful review!
    My recent post Book Review: Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan

  3. miss_bonnie13

    It's so heartbreaking to read about stuff like that and realize that it's an actual version of the truth. So heartbreaking.

    I had trouble with her character too and how unreliable she was as a narrator. I just wasn't sure what to believe. But that scene? I remember listening to the audio and was kind of zoning out (well, I did that through the whole thing practically) and was so shocked when it happened that I cried (a little). It seemed like that tragic scene came completely out of nowhere.

  4. christinamofranke

    Oh no, a zoning audiobook. I hate that. Mostly they're fine, but there are some narrators where I JUST CANNOT PAY ATTENTION. Normally, I multitask like a champ, but with a couple even if I sit still and close my eyes, my mind wanders. X_X

  5. miss_bonnie13

    Same here but listening to it on audio was the ONLY thing that got me through that book. All the tech and flight info was too much for me to handle on print.

  6. christinamofranke

    La la la, guess who's behind on commenting? Who could it beeeee? Not me, surely.

    Your second paragraph about Ravensbruck is why this book made me cry. Not so much for Rose, but for the real people who went through that. It's nigh unbelievable how terrible humanity can be when it lets itself be lead by shockingly amoral individuals. Those poor Kaninchen.

    CNV was almost a DNF for me as well. I had trouble with Julie's character, but did better with Maddie. Still, I wasn't emotionally tied to them enough to cry at the big scene.
    My recent post Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland

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