It is awfully generous (and atypical) of me to give a book I do not intend to finish 3 stars. But honestly, there is a lot of merit to "Department 19" and it seems unfair to penalize it for the fact that I am not its intended audience.
First, it is nice to know that some publishers still remember that boys read too. A lot of YA urban fantasy has been published over the last couple of years, but almost none of it that would appeal to guys. "Department 19" takes a non-sparkly vampire approach. Vampires in this books are violent and dangerous. The whole plot is built upon hunting and killing them, as the book's cover suggests.
Department 19 is a secret government organization whose purpose is to protect humanity from vampires. The department was organized by none other than Abraham Van Helsing and his friends from Bram Stoker's "Dracula" years ago when they found out after killing Dracula that he was not, unfortunately, the only murderous vampire on the loose.
The department is still active now and the novel's main character, Jamie Carpenter, finds out about its existence when his mother disappears. It turns out, Jamie's dead father was once an employee of Department 19 and the boy now has a right to be a member of this organization too. Jamie is determined to use all the department's resources to find his mother who he suspects was kidnapped by vampires.
There is plenty for a boy to like in this book - there is action, blood and gore, weaponry, some familiar characters from several beloved gothic horror stories, interesting historical flashbacks. The story moves along quickly and is written well.
For me, however, it didn't hold much appeal. Besides the fact that I felt it wasn't quite the type of book I could enjoy, I had issues with a couple of things:
1) Frankenstein - he is Jamie's guardian. Even though I liked the presence of other fictional characters - Van Helsing and his crew - Frankenstein somehow felt like an overkill.
2) I really hate it when authors withhold vital information after mentioning a piece of it. It infuriated me in The Maze Runner and it slightly annoyed me here, to a much lesser degree. I dislike it when someone reasoning for not telling the main character some information goes like this - I am going to mention this important thing/secret here , but I am too busy to tell you now/You will not need this information/It is dangerous to tell you. I say - if you can't tell something, DON'T MENTION IT AT ALL!
Night Owl Reviews