Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review: Rose Under Fire

Sometimes a fictional world is too rich to want to give up. I adored Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, the story of a female British spy captured by the Nazis in World War II France, so completely that I reread most of it as soon as I had finished the book. Fast forward to this summer, when I managed to get my grubby hands on a copy of its not-quite-sequel Rose Under Fire, and I cried the same stupid-ugly tears (although maybe not quite as many) that I had for Code Name Verity. Ultimately, though, I found Rose to be lacking when held up alongside Verity,

Rose is an American who has volunteered to fly for the Air Transport Auxiliary, ferrying damaged or recently repaired planes around England (yes, the same ATA that Maddie flies for). Through a variety of events, she ends up captured by the Nazis and taken to Ravensbruck, a women's concentration camp in Germany. She is housed with a variety of women, mostly Polish and Russian political prisoners. This is notable because there are so many Holocaust novels out there, and there are relatively fewer about the people who were put in camps because of things other than being Jewish.

Rose certainly doesn't have the worst time at Ravensbruck, but its not like its a cakewalk either. A rather important character from Code Name Verity shows up at the camp, and Rose talks about her without knowing a fraction of the things she's done. But while Code Name Verity left you wondering what was going to happen to Verity, you know fairly early that Rose is fine because of the way she's writing her story. All in all, this is just another World War II book, but it also happens to have links to the wonderful Code Name Verity that make it interesting to those who have already read the first book.

Rose Under Fire could be read as a stand-alone book, but you'd get so much more out of it as a companion. If you only have time for one WWII book in your life right now, opt for Code Name Verity, which is much more inventive and emotional.

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