Friday, 15 January 2016

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Justice is a young pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War. On her way back from a semi-secret flight in the waning days of the war, Rose is captured by the Germans and ends up in Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi women's concentration camp. There, she meets an unforgettable group of women, including a once glamorous and celebrated French detective novelist whose Jewish husband and three young sons have been killed; a resilient young girl who was a human guinea pig for Nazi doctors trying to learn how to treat German war wounds; and a Nachthexen, or Night Witch, a female fighter pilot and military ace for the Soviet air force.

These damaged women must bond together to help each other survive. In this companion volume to the critically acclaimed novel Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein continues to explore themes of friendship and loyalty, right and wrong, and unwavering bravery in the face of indescribable evil.

Rose was a pilot, an American young woman now in England, ferrying planes and their passengers across the country and into France. Until she tries to take down a flying bomb and flies over enemy territory. Rose is captured and sent to a woman's concentration camp, where she sees first hand what she used to think was propaganda: young women being experimented on, their skin peeled away and injected with viruses to see the extent of the damage. For Rose, someone who hasn't grown up in the war, only recently exposed to the dangers, she is rudely awakened to the horrors.

This is my first audiobook, so it was a very different experience for me. It was quite strange listening to the words rather than hearing them in my head, but narrator was good and the songs and poems were meant to be read aloud. Hearing the Polish and French accents, the pure terror and un-shed tears in their voices, definitely added to the reading experience and tugged on my heart strings in a way that is different to reading them at my own pace. 

It took me longer to finish this; it's quite a long book, a little over 400 pages I think, but making time to listen was an odd experience but one that I would like to repeat. Hearing a definitive voice made the character much more real and all the girls were just incredible characters that deserved that extra attention. A companion novel to Code Name Verity, it was very much along the same lines of wartime scenes, horrible truths and unwavering loyalties, and just as heart-wrenching and moving. 

Published 1st June 2013 by Bolinda Publishing.

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