Sunday, 20 March 2011
Review: Department 19 - Will Hill
Department 13 is MI5.
Department 19 is the reason you're alive.
When Jamie Carpenter's mother is kidnapped by strange creatures, he finds himself dragged into Department 19, the government's most secret agency.
Fortunately for Jamie, Department 19 can provide the tools he needs to find his mother, and to kill the vampires who want him dead. But unfortunately for everyone, something much older is stirring, something even Department 19 can't stand up against...
Department 19 Series:
Visit the Department 19 website for more information
Jamie's life was turned upside down when his father was killed 2 years ago. Suspicion over the circumstances of his death is pulling Jamie and his mother apart but things take a turn for the worse when his mother is kidnapped. Jamie only survives an attack himself because he is rescued by a mysterious stranger, a stranger who takes him straight into the heart of a secret government agency. It turns out that Bram Stoker's Dracula was not a work of fiction it was a true story, a story that prompted the creation of Department 19 - a secret agency that has protected UK citizens from supernatural creatures for over 100 years. Jamie's ancestors, including his father, have been working for Department 19 since it's creation and now Jamie has to decide if he's prepared to join the fight.
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding Department 19 which left me feeling a little nervous when I first picked it up. I've read a number of books that have obviously had huge marketing budgets only to find I was disappointed by the story but that was definitely not the case with Will Hill's debut novel. In fact I can happily say that this is one of the best debuts I have ever read and I'm sure it is going to be a huge success. The story is an action packed thrill ride that will leave you breathless with anticipation for the next novel.
Jamie is an incredibly realistic character and one that it is easy to route for. He is thrown into the middle of a nightmare world and needs a lot of courage to face up to what is happening around him. I love the fact that he isn't perfect, he makes mistakes and we even get to see a bit of his moody teenage side coming through but that just makes him easier to relate to. We are introduced to Department 19 through Jamie's eyes as he slowly discovers more about the organisation's origins and how it developed into the high tech arm of the military that it is now. Trust me they have some very cool gadgets and weapons that would make anyone want to sign up just to play with them! For Jamie though the most important thing is finding a way to use these weapons to try and rescue his mother, if he can only work out where she actually is.
The vampires in the story are definitely the more traditional blood thirsty villains that we haven't been seeing as much of in fiction recently. They are often cold hearted killers who will strike with absolutely no remorse and kill their victims in various horrific manners. Department 19 doesn't shy away from the gruesome details and the fights are stunningly detailed and graphic.
One of my favorite things was the use of flashbacks to show exactly how and why Department 19 was created. Sometimes I can find that flashbacks distract from the main story but in this case Will Hill manages to build the suspense in both story lines simultaneously so you can't wait to go back for more. I already mentioned that the story is action packed and I wasn't exaggerating - there are edge of your seat moments that will keep your eyes glued to the pages. This is one of those books that I stayed up until gone 4am just to finish reading because I had to know how it would end. Although this is the first book in a series I was pleased that some of the main plot lines are resolved by the end but don't worry you are left with plenty of questions that will have you itching to read the sequel (as soon as I get my hands on a copy it will be jumping to the top of my to read pile!)
Department 19 is sure to be a massive hit with teenage boys but will have just as much appeal for female horror fans. The story is one that can and will be enjoyed by both teens and adults and I would highly recommend it to anyone. If you're only going to read one YA thriller / horror this year make it this one.
Source: Received from Waterstones / HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review
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