Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Review: Department 19 by Will Hill

Department 19 by Will Hill
Author: Will Hill Website|Twitter
Published: 1 September 2011 (HarperCollins Children's Books)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 509
Buy the paperback: Amazon|BookDepository
Buy the e-book: Kindle|Kobo

Source: Bought

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Jamie Carpenter's father is dead, his mother is missing, and he was just rescued by an enormous creature named Frankenstein. Now Jamie is pulled into a secret organization responsible for policing the supernatural, founded more than a century ago by Abraham Van Helsing. . . . Department Nineteen 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.

My Review:
This was another book I bought before Leakycon as Will Hill was going to be speaking there. I read a free short story set in this world and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to dive into this one. Department 19 follows Jamie Carpenter as he is suddenly swept into the secret world of a government department set up to control vampires.

I read a lot of vampire novels so when I find something with a unique twist it makes me happy and Department 19 definitely had that! I love anything to do with spies and government agencies that give you plenty of action and this is what this book delivered by the bucketload.

Department 19 starts off with a great prologue where we glimpse the incident which killed Jamie's dad. From then on we learnt that Jamie has been moved around a lot because of his dad's reputation and the fact he was accused of leaking government secrets. I immediately liked Jamie and had a lot of respect and sympathy for him, because he clearly wants to clear his father's name.

What was great is that throughout Department 19 you get chapters which go back to the 1800s where you see the origins of this secret government department. I love those little flashbacks and how the whole history of the world was developed so brilliantly. You aren't just told about them, you get to actually see what happened which is way more exciting. The book doesn't stick to Jamie's POV so we get to see what's happening with other characters which was great.

During the course of the book we meet female vampire Larissa who was one of my favourite characters because she's just so intriguing! There's a real connection between her and Jamie which I liked. She listens to him when the other people around Jamie have a tendency to talk down to him and patronise him. I loved that we really get to delve into Larissa's backstory as well, because thete's a lot more to her than meets the eye and she's not just your typical baddie.

I think the coolest part of Department 19 is how it takes ideas of vampires that already exist in literature and integrates them into the story and the world. So Dracula and Frankenstein are real characters who had a place in the history of the department. And seriously, Frankenstein was my one of my favourite characters which seems like a weird thing to say!

It's quite a long book so it took a while to get to the build up, but the ending was fast paced and crazy and a bit more emotional than I was expecting! I really loved the unique world and I'm excited for the next book (even if it is even longer!).

Rating: 4*
What to read next: The Rising by Will Hill, the second book in the Department 19 series
Books like this: Insignia by S. J. Kincaid, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

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