Department 19 (Department 19, Book 1) Paperback – Sep 1 2011
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"'Teen' and 'Vampire' doesn't always mean 'sparkly'; this Young Adult thriller injects some blood and thunder back into the vamp mythos…a fast-paced and intelligently thought-out story." - SFX
About the Author
Before quitting his job in publishing to write Department 19, Will Hill worked as a bartender, a bookseller and a door-to-door charity worker. He grew up in the north-east of England, is scared of spiders, and is a big fan of cats. He lives in east London with his girlfriend, where he splits his time between staring out of the window and staring at a computer screen. The latter tends to be more productive.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Everyone knows that vampires are the big trend these days. So picking up Department 19, one might be subject to believe that it is just like all the rest. But Will Hill's debut novel is far from unoriginal. He leaves no plot holes, but leaves the reader craving more. His characters feel realistic and it's not hard to get sucked up in the story.
Jamie Carpenter's life is ripped apart first when is father is killed for allegedly betraying the country, and then again when his mother is kidnapped by mysterious creatures and he is hauled off to Department 19, the government's most top secret agency. He is about to learn that he has a stronger tie to Department 19 than he knows.
One of the greatest things that the book did for me was the vampires themselves. They drank blood, they were ruthless, they burned in the sun, and they were the disturbing monsters that I would expect vampires to be. Hill reverts his vampires back to how they used to be, which is fresh and a nice change of pace from all the other vampire novels out there.
As a lover of Dracula, I found the tie-in to the classic novel in Hill's book delightful. Dracula can leave a lot of people wondering what happened next after the book was finished, and Department 19 fills this gap. Hill manages Stoker's characters well, and it is clear he did all of his research before writing his book. Even if someone has not read Dracula, it is easy to pick up on what happened in the story, and what it means for Department 19. And as for those who have, it is a nice treat to revisit Van Helsing and the rest of the gang and find out what happened to them.
I hope that Department 19 and the following books in the series really take off. The story takes a classic story, throws in some original characters, and takes the reader to a hidden war that has been going on for decades. I hope Department 19 does not get bogged down and lost in all of the other vampire books, and reaches its potential. The book is unafraid of itself and isn't afraid to go into the gory details. I would highly recommend it to anyone, even those who do not normally read vampire or fantasy stories. I for one will be picking up the next book as soon as it hits shelves.
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
So far I am about two thirds through the book and can't for the life of me figure out why he hated it so much. It is perfect for its intended audience of young teenagers. Without going into any spoilers it creates an interesting world with some unique takes on the well trod ground of vampires, werewolves, etc. There are some clear and easily believable motivations for the characters to do what they do and overall the world building was well thought out.
I only gave it 3 out of 5 stars because the there is a fair degree of predictability to the whole plot and so far no real surprises. But I suppose that is a consequence of me not being the intended audience of the book.
I'd would definitely recommend this for your 12-15 year old child who is in to the whole fantasy/horror genre.
The book main character is Jamie Carpenter whose father was killed couple of years ago on charges of terrorism, and due to that he is a bitter man who isn't in good relations with his mother.
Although no matter how strange that could sound, one day he will be abducted by monster and then delivered to Frankenstein, in unusual secret department, called Department 19, secret British department that takes care of the supernatural creatures and events.
This department was established more than 100 years ago by Van Helsing and the other survivors from the group that haunted Dracula, and all these years they take care of vampires.
Because Jamie's father was one of the organization's most important members, and Jamie is his descendant, he'll start training vampire hunting, learn using hunting weapons, hear many things that are not taught in the general history, and also learn lot about this Department, together with their secrets.
Given that he would be keen to save his mother, Jamie will be forced to team up with an imprisoned vampire girl and one green monster...
"Department Nineteen" is book with one of the most unusual premise in last several years.
It can't be said who is its target audience, given that due to its thrill and unusual theme will be interesting to younger people but adults as well.
The book's full of violence and gore, packed with action that resembles a rollercoaster ride for reader.
And although its plot sounds strange and weird, it brings some fresh air into the fiction/horror genre combining famous motives with thrilling action resulting in a piece that isn't just another teen soft horror title.
Therefore don't be surprised to find real monsters inside who will kill and torture, in some occasions just for fun, don't be disappointed when some good guy will be killed in an especially brutal way because the author spared no one, didn't show mercy to anyone.
Inside reader will find lot of details concerning past of the Department, a history about its formation and its founders that makes it must-read as first title in Department Nineteen series.
Speaking about literary style, it should be fair to say this isn't a book in which top-notch style you will enjoy, though all the action and its story will almost completely hide it.
Its characters are interesting and well-developed, although besides Jamie you'll not be able to attach to someone else, they all seem expandable, and lot of them will truly become ones during book's pages.
The book can be considered somewhat predictable, in which it could be complained, but regardless it's a title in which you will fully enjoy if you're a fan of the genre.
Overall, "Department Nineteen" is unique fiction/horror title on market, one that shouldn't be missed by fiction fans due to its thrilling pace and exciting story, with a bit of romance.
Due to that I can fully recommend it to the general audience although be prepare to its gore and violence.
Of course I should have never doubted the writing prowess of Mr. Hill, as once I picked it up, I couldn't put Department 19 down. Hill takes a semi-familiar cast of characters (with the legend of Dracula/Van Helsing and Frankenstein) and changes them just enough to allow enough mystery and grittiness to fill out these characters while creating an engaging back story.
Of course besides Frankenstein (who was one of my favorite characters) Hill does a good job demonstrating Jamie's urgency and worry about getting his mother back. Hill might have gone a bit far in Jamie's expertise in vampire hunting, but if he didn't give him that then it wouldn't have been a very fair fight in the story (and it certainly makes for some fantastic action.)
Of course besides the characters, I was captivated by the story itself. I know the premise sounds a little ridiculous, but Hill makes it work. It's fast paced, engaging, and full of action. That coupled with the interesting characters, nonstop action, and engaging writing makes Department 19 a great book for boys and girls of all ages, and I personally can't wait for the next in the series.