Department 19, Book 1
Author: Will Hill
Jamie Carpenter, 16, saw his father killed when he was a child, shot down like a dog by the government as a traitor. When his mom is taken by a vampire named Alexandru, and Frankenstein shows up to rescue him from said evil vamp, Jamie realizes there is more to his dad's death than he knew. His dad was part of the paranormal, vampire killing section of the government. Now, Jamie must rescue his mother from Alexandru, find out the truth about his dad, help prevent Dracula being brought back to life, and sort out his feelings for the bloody (since this novel is set in Britain, this is a delightful pun) beautiful vampire girl.
Feel free to compare this to the information given in the book trailer, which I wanted to use instead of a summary, but could not, as it didn't say much at all (and what it did say, it said poorly).
After reading the summary of this story, I was pretty intrigued and thought it could be quite interesting. Sadly, I quickly realized that the book would not be for me. There were a myriad of things that I did not like about this book: the characters (none of whom I gave a flip about), the jumps in time (which made it even harder to care about the characters, because so rarely did a scene continue on in the next chapter), the rather pompous chapter headings, the fact the vampires can fly (just leap up in the air and fly like birds), and the fact that there are two epilogues.
The timing and plotting of the story seem a bit weak. As an example of the former, I should like to discuss vampire killing. Readers of YA fiction are probably expecting Jamie, as the hero of the piece to be a bit of a badass. And he is. After only two days of training (upon the conclusion of which he does the best job of like anyone ever on some simulation test thing). And it's not like he was particularly athletic in school. He seemed really average at the outset and then suddenly he has crazy vampire killin' mojo? I just wasn't buying it; yeah, there's a family history for it, but that really doesn't mean anything.
Not to mention the fact that the whole plot line of it being possible to bring Dracula back to afterlife could have been avoided if everyone were not stupid. Seriously. Spoiler Alert. It occurs to Van Helsing's crew several years later that reanimation from his cremated ashes might be possible, so they go back to Transylvania to make sure he's still there. He is, hurrah! The world is saved. Except that the guys just take the ashes and stick them in a super secure, totally unsinkable room. Which is, of course, breached. Whoever could have seen that clever plot twist coming?!?! What they should have done was dumped the ashes out on a windy day or throne them in the ocean. Good luck finding all of his pieces again.
In the climax of the story, Jamie finally finds Alexandru, having purposefully walked into a very obvious trap, what with Alexandru having left notes for him and all. Alexandru has killed hundreds of people to get Jamie's attention and make sure he comes. After all of that, when Jamie gets there, Jamie's mother yells for him to run to safety and Alexandru tells him "Listen to your mother, boy" (492). These are not the words of the man who's been writing "Tell the boy to come" all over the place in blood.
Another frustrating element was his obsession with Larissa. She tries to kill him at their second meeting. Then, he comes to visit her in her cell and has trouble concentrating on saving his mother, because she looks so lovely with her face all covered in blood. Right... I'm not saying he can't be into a vampire, but, seriously, she's not going to be looking her best just then. Being covered in blood just isn't sexy and, as a True Blood fan, I should know.
For a story with a lot of promise, I thought Department 19 was a major clunker. I was bored pretty much the whole way through (and it's a long way through). Recommended to teen boys with more interest in action scenes and gore than in plot. For me, this is the end, even though a sequel is likely planned.