Jamie Carpenter’s life will never be the same. His father is dead, his mother is missing, and he was just rescued by an enormous man named Frankenstein. Jamie is brought to Department 19, where he is pulled into a secret organization responsible for policing the supernatural, founded more than a century ago by Abraham Van Helsing and the other survivors of Dracula. Aided by Frankenstein’s monster, a beautiful vampire girl with her own agenda, and the members of the agency, Jamie must attempt to save his mother from a terrifyingly powerful vampire.
Will Hill’s Department 19 is a book that came out of my TBR (To Be Read) jar for January and, if I’m totally honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it. Superficially, I thought the book looked very long and if I’m not already invested in a series, a massive book can be such a turn off.
I was so incredibly wrong.
The second I picked this book up (at 11pm) I could barely put it down. I read it in a matter of days. It was so incredibly exciting being dragged into this parallel world of Vampires and supernatural creatures. It is exactly what I always say about books, I want them to grab me by the scruff of the neck and drag me along for 400 pages. This book did that so incredibly well.
There is also something quite special about the way this book is written. As Jamie, our main character, is unaware of his ancestor’s chequered past, he needs to be told a lot of stories throughout the novel. Instead of having a character explain everything to him from start ti finish, Hill decides to show us through a series of flashbacks positioned throughout the book. While I found these enjoyable and a very clever device to still display action when giving back story, they did slow the pace of the novel quite a bit and made it lag in places.
Jamie is a very well drawn, well rounded main character. With the flashback at the beginning of the story, you get a feel for what Jamie has been through already and how that informs his future decisions in the book. For example, the way he reacts to losing his mother is a lot more affecting after what has happened to his Dad. The emotions and motives for him all felt very real to me.
Despite the length of this book, I found it very enjoyable. I found myself burning through pages very quickly and not wanting to put it down until I finished it. This is mostly due to Hill leaving the tiniest of hooks at the end of each chapter, really making you want to read on. On two separate occasions, he was the reason I was up until the early hours of the morning in the past couple of days.
The climax to this book was satisfying, exciting and pretty tragic if I’m honest. I couldn’t help but cry out at certain moments of the finale as Hill threw some very serious curveballs into the mix.
Overall it was an incredible debut novel filled with twists and turns and excitement from start to finish. I am very excited to read the rest of the series.
Department 19 is the first of a series by Will Hill, the fourth book, Department 19: Zero Hour, comes out in March 2014.