Book Review: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Lately, I have been a reader who doesn’t read.

I don’t know what causes me to go through these ups and downs when it comes to the written word. One month, I’ll be devouring any book I can get my hands on, ravenous for new stories and strings of sentences woven together beautifully. One follows another, follows another, follows another because I just can’t get enough. And then, something slips, habit, perhaps, and I find myself falling asleep on the subway, my book still tucked in my bag, where it lives for months, unopened, words neglected.

It’s been months now. I haven’t wanted to pick up a book to read for months.

But then, I got my hands on this book.

Rose Under Fire
by Elizabeth Wein

You might remember my review of Code Name Verity from a few months back. In fact, Code Name Verity was the last book review I wrote on this blog. In June. Nearly four months ago.

I loved Code Name Verity. Perhaps this means I shouldn`t have read this book. I found myself, far too often, comparing it to Wein`s previous book. I guess I was expecting to be blown away by this new one. It wanted it to be better, by leaps and bounds.

In some ways, maybe it was. But my expectations had been set. I wanted it to be better – by leaps and bounds – but within the constraints Code Name Verity had already set.

Rose Under Fire follows the store of Rose, an Air Transport Auxiliary pilot during World War II. In the same style of Code Name Verity, it`s written as a diary, all the left behind bits of communication surrounding Rose`s story. Wein builds up her character through a daily journal of sorts, then presents the reader with the shock of Rose`s disappearance through notes and letters from Maddie – the main character from Code Name Verity – and Rose`s aunt, and then, Ahha! Rose is back!

This may, actually, have been my key disappointment with the book. At the very beginning of the story, the reader already knows how it turns out. As I turned the last page, I realized – there were no surprises. No shocks. No moments that cause you to catch your breath or burst into surprised tears on the subway.

Don`t get me wrong. Rose Under Fire is a great book. It`s well written. It tells the shocking story of Nazi concentration camps in such a way that doesn`t water anything down in the least, but makes it accessible for the young adult crowd. It`s an amazing story of resilience and hope.

You should definitely read it.

But, if you haven`t read Code Name Verity, you should also definitely read that book.

I`m curious: do other people have this problem? Have you had an expectation of an author that they didn’t live up to? Is it just me? Is it just this book?

Just. Read both. Read lots. Read for me, because I don`t seem to be reading anything anymore. I read this book really fast and then, phht. Back to sleeping on the subway.

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