Sunday, July 3, 2011

Department 19 by Will Hill

Published: March 2011
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 540
Copy: Library
Summary: Goodreads

Jamie Carpenter's life will never be the same. His father is dead, his mother is missing, and he was just rescued by an enormous man named Frankenstein. Jamie is brought to Department 19, where he is pulled into a secret organization responsible for policing the supernatural, founded more than a century ago by Abraham Van Helsing and the other survivors of Dracula. Aided by Frankenstein's monster, a beautiful vampire girl with her own agenda, and the members of the agency, Jamie must attempt to save his mother from a terrifyingly powerful vampire.

Department 19 takes us through history, across Europe, and beyond—from the cobbled streets of Victorian London to prohibition-era New York, from the icy wastes of Arctic Russia to the treacherous mountains of Transylvania. Part modern thriller, part classic horror, it's packed with mystery, mayhem, and a level of suspense that makes a Darren Shan novel look like a romantic comedy.

What a wonderful and enjoyable book this was to read.  This is Will Hill's debut novel and appears to be the first in a a 'major new series' according to the blurb at the back of the book.  I personally could not be happier.

Many of you will be thinking it's just another vampire book - but this is a vampire book written for guys that girls will also enjoy, not the other way around.  Filled with blood, gore and numerous flying body parts, there is enough mayhem in Department 19 to satisfy even the bloodthirstiest of readers.  Department 19 is full of mystery and adventure, with a dash of espionage just to sweeten the deal. 

The characters were full and interesting and many of them rather surprising.One of my favourites is Frankenstein - yep, the monster himself - and he is so well written he's almost loveable.  How about this quote from him about Mary Shelley

'Frankenstein looked away.  "That miserable little girl," he said quietly, almost to himself.  "She gave my pain to the world as entertainment." (page 124)

Any lovers of Frankenstein will appreciate that comment!  There are other literary characters in evidence as well, including Van Helsing and Jonathan Harker.  The story is loosely based on the premise that the story of Dracula is real, as are all the characters, and there are some wonderful flashbacks which illuminate certain events in history  that help to rationalize what is taking place 'now'.  There are some wonderful weapons in evidence throughout, my favourite being the T-bone - which is used often with great effect.

'"Why T-Bone?" asked Jamie. "Because it's like a stake - but bigger." '(page 168)

The main protagonist is Jamie Carpenter, and I found it very easy to identify with him.  The reader easily understands his personal growth throughout the book and his leadership qualities seem very plausible and real. 

'He was sizteen years old and miserably, crushingly lonely.' (page 23)

There is a lot going on in the book, but it was easy to follow along and there was nothing that didn't make sense to me.  I never did identify the traitor, really - so I was as surprised as Jamie when he was revealed, which was a nice change.  Usually I can work out who they are, but not this time. Its a long, fairly involved story that read very quickly, with numerous twists and turns to keep the action going.  I have no hesitation in recommending this one, especially for guys, but really for anyone who loves a good adventure story.  Try it out for yourselves.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review! I haven't read too many of the reviews for Department 19 so it was nice to hear your thoughts on the novel! I like how it can really appeal to both girls and boys.