Department 19 by Will Hill
In a secret supernatural battle that’s been raging for over a century, the stakes have just been raised – and they’re not wooden anymore.
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 is due to be the first book of a new series for young adult readers and is due for publication at the end of March. I loved this book far more than I ever thought I would! I expected something a bit cliche, a bit overdone with no really original elements to the plot. However, Will Hill has surprised me and more than anything else – entertained me! I was absolutely hooked the whole way through and could hardly put it down.
The story revolves around Jamie’s father being killed one night in mysterious circumstances, and after the abduction of his mother sometime after, the truth is finally brought to light. Jamie’s father worked for a secret government department that has protected the world from deadly vampires for decades. However, Jamie’s father is shown to be a traitor – leading the vampires straight to the secret department building, and he is killed for this very reason. Jamie must find his mother before the ancient vampires – who were turned by Dracula himself – kill the only person he has left in the world.
What I loved most about this book is the way Hill didn’t just focus on the present – it goes right back to the time of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which was far from fiction in this story. Dracula actually existed and we finally see what happened after he was killed, how Van Helsing discovers that the curse of the vampire did not end with Dracula. It still exists and even worse – they are increasing in numbers and have arrived in Europe. So as I have mentioned, Van Helsing makes an appearance but also so do many other well known characters such as Frankenstein (protector of Jamie’s family), Mina from Bram Stoker’s Dracula as well as many of the other characters, and there is even an appearance by F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby. I’m not sure that most kids will pick up on these references but I certainly enjoyed them!
Of course this novel isn’t all action – there is a little romantic element in the form of teenage vampire girl Larissa who Jamie is instantly attracted to, despite the fact that that she is the very thing they are fighting against. Their relationships develop slowly as Jamie learns to trust her over time, and it really is intriguing to watch them come together. Larissa’s back story is very heart-breaking and you can’t help but think of her as one of the good ones.
This is a very refreshing read from all the vampire romance stories that teens are reading today, and girls should not be put off by the very ‘boyish’ cover. Girls could easily enjoy this just as much as boys! Department 19 is a thrilling, gripping read that will have you on the edge of your seat until the final page. I can’t wait for the next book in the series – I just hope it lives up to the high expectations I now have!
Thanks to Harper Collins for sending me a copy to review!