I wasn’t sure if debut author Elizabeth Wein could get me again after her heart-wrenching and wonderful debut, Code Name Verity, but I snatched up an egalley as soon as the offer crossed my email inbox. If you haven’t read CNV, do yourself a favor and go get it right now: it was one of the best books I read in 2012.
At first, I was worried that this story was just a boring romance set during World War II, a companion to Code Name Verity but without that book’s incredible emotional impact, but midway through comes the gut punch. Like Maddie in Verity, Rose is a pilot. In fact, she’s flying Air Transport Auxiliary planes with Maddie. Unlike Maddie, Rose is an American, flying for the British because of her English uncle’s government connections. Events start 8 months after the conclusion of Maddie’s story, and that much closer to the end of the war. Rose is frustrated, because although she is contributing to the war effort, she is still just a transport pilot, unable to directly impact the war. Another female pilot has just died, and Rose must write the accident report because she was there. She thinks that this pilot might have died not due to a malfunction with the plane or incompetence, but because she was trying to knock a flying bomb out of the sky.
D-Day is about to happen, so planes, people and supplies are being moved over to the Continent in preparation for the great offensive that would lead to the end of the war. Rose gets to fly to Paris (and buzz the Eiffel Tower) because she often flies her uncle around on his mysterious missions. It is after this flight that the real story starts. On her return flight, Rose sees a flying bomb and decides to try a taran–to knock it out of the air. She does this but gets found by two German planes and forced to land in territory still occupied by German forces. This is where Rose’s story goes to the same emotional level Wein expertly created in Verity, as Rose is now a prisoner of war and sent to Ravensbruck.
Of course, being in a concentration camp is horrible, and Wein details Rose’s work, fellow prisoners and fears. This book is another must read and I can’t wait to find out what subject the author will tackle next.