Monday, November 10, 2014


Title: Rose Under Fire
Series: Code Name Verity, #2
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Genres: YA, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 4/5


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.


Having read the wonderful Code Name Verity, I really looked forward to reading Rose Under Fire. Though not quite as brilliant as its prequel, this is a wonderfully researched and often heartbreaking tale in its own right.

In a desperate, if slightly impulsive effort to possibly save Paris from a flying bomb, Rose Justice is caught by the German Luftwaffe and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp. During this life-changing period she meets the Rabbits: Polish victims of Nazi human experimentation. Together with several others Rose resolves to get out of the camp and tell the world about these atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis.

Rose, the main character, is a girl who knows what she wants, naturally attracts others and can think clearly in a crisis—just the kind of female lead I can relate to. Other well fleshed out characters include aggressive little Polish Róa, Red Army prisoner of war, Irina, and the motherly Lisette who attempts to look after a group of horribly crippled girls in the concentration camp.

In this story the author manages to portray the absolute instability of war. Impulsive marriage proposals, hastily performed marriages, the devastation when a loved one goes missing, the paralyzing fear when your number is called for the gas chambers and the ultimate joy when the war is over is beautifully depicted in the pages of this book.

On the other hand, the harsh reality of life in Ravensbrück; the hunger, the fear and the cruelty, are equally vividly described. I was deeply touched by the camaraderie that developed between so many women from vastly different nationalities.

Several of the characters from Code Name Verity also appear in this book though not in key roles. The poetry written by Rose gives a lovely lyrical quality to the prose. 

For a read that will thrill, horrify, and stir you to tears, but that should, ultimately, touch you and leave you fulfilled, I highly recommend Rose Under Fire.

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Elizabeth Wein has lived in Scotland for over ten years and wrote nearly all her novels there.  Her first five books for young adults are set in Arthurian Britain and sixth century Ethiopia.  The most recent of these form the sequence The Mark of Solomon, published in two parts as The Lion Hunter (2007) and The Empty Kingdom (2008).  The Lion Hunter was short-listed for the Andre Norton Award for Best Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction in 2008.  Elizabeth also writes short stories.

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