Review: Department 19 by Will Hill

DEPARTMENT 6 IS THE ARMY
DEPARTMENT 12 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 by Will Hill (HarperCollins) is not a story for those with a weak disposition. It is a bloody story about a teenage boy named Jamie who, when his mother is kidnapped, finds himself in a world of secret government agents, cool weapons and terrifying, ancient vampires. It expands the story of Dracula into modern-time London, with the main characters being the descendants of the ones featured in Bram Stoker’s novel.

Everyone I talked to who had read Department 19 had good things to say about it, so I was really looking forward to reading it. And you would think a story with vampire battle, hydraulic-powered stake guns and a ton of gore would keep you on the edge of your seat… For me, unfortunately that was not the case.

I found myself really dragging my feet with this book. It wasn’t so much due to the plot—the plot is great with lots of action and interesting characters—no, what slowed me down was the writing style. In a nut shell, there was too much description. Normally I love description, but in this book it really slowed down what could have been a very fast-paced novel. Between run-on sentences and paragraphs devoted to the description of a car or a room, the focus was taken away from the action and that affected my reading experience.

Where I did really enjoy the style was the chapters that flashed back to the time of Van Helsing where Stoker’s Dracula left off. Hill has a somewhat formal writing style that is much better suited to the historical moments of the novel. I wanted more of these chapters and could have done with less of Jamie’s story, where the formality slowed things down.

Hill definitely made some cool creative choices that I really liked. I loved that we get to meet literary figures both real and ficticious, like Van Helsing and Frankentein’s monster and Stoker himself; the weapons are pretty intense and I loved that UV light is used as both a weapon and a means of imprisoning vampires. Hill did a good job of expanding on the Dracula myth and recreating the clichés we’ve come to associate with it.

And if you like blood, this is the book for you as there is blood on almost every one of this book’s 490 pages.

I think this is a book that teenage boys would really enjoy (if they don’t mind its length) as it feels a lot like a video game, with the guns and gore and secret ops.

As for me, this book was shrug-worthy. I could take it or leave it.

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