After my glowing review of Code Name Verity, it was obvious that I was going to have to read the follow-up, Rose Under Fire. While not a direct sequel (it follows a different pilot, although her story relates to one of the pilots from the ATA. Rose Under Fire is far more harrowing than Code Name Verity, but no less powerful, or engaging.
Rose Justice is a young American ATA pilot, delivering planes and taxiing pilots for the RAF in the UK during the summer of 1944. A budding poet who feels most alive while flying, she discovers that not all battles are fought in the air. An unforgettable journey from innocence to experience from the author of the best-selling, multi-award-nominated Code Name Verity. From the exhilaration of being the youngest pilot in the British air transport auxiliary, to the aftermath of surviving the notorious Ravensbruck women’s concentration camp, Rose’s story is one of courage in the face of adversity.
Unlike CNV, which focuses on two female characters as narrators, Rose Under Fire focuses only on Rose Justice, who is taken captive and (eventually) transferred to Ravensbrück concentration camp, an exclusively female camp in northern Germany.
While there, she meets and befriends a number of other prisoners, including several Rabbits, who were subject to medical experiments.
Rose Under Fire is a powerful, harrowing, and at times painful read – the details are truly disturbing. Code Name Verity was largely invented, taking place in a fictional town, with a fictional Nazi HQ, although the details could have applied to many different pilots at the time.
Ravensbrück, however, was not invented at all – the concentration camp and the details of the Rabbits weren’t fabricated at all, which makes the book all the more impactful and, honestly, terrifying.
I wouldn’t say I enjoyed Rose Under Fire – I probably didn’t, in all honesty. However, I would thoroughly, highly recommend it. It’s an engaging, powerful and difficult read, but it was definitely worth it. Much less enjoyable than Code Name Verity, but certainly just as good a book.