Friday, May 13, 2011

Department 19

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.

This one had a bit of a slow start, and I didn't get pulled into the story right away. It did get better in parts, but I had to do some skimming or I was never going to be able to finish it. I often found myself not really wanting to read, which is definitely a sign that I'm not really liking a book, because normally I always want to read.

I was hoping for some good vampire YA fiction, but I didn't really get that here. I honestly think it was just about on the same level of writing as Twilight, but aimed at boys. There are going to be some people that just love this, but others, like me, who think it's subpar.

I got a little annoyed at the author writing "the teenager" when referring to the main character. It seemed to be almost on every page, and while it's not necessarily bad writing, I found it overused. But, as far as writing a teenage character, the author did quite well. Some YA authors write adult characters where the only thing that tells us the character is a teenager is their age. Will Hill didn't do that here. Jamie was definitely a teenager, including all the selfishness, rashness, and hot-headedness that you usually find with a teenage boy.

But he was also inconsistent. He went from being kind of a wimpy (at least that we saw) boy who got beat up to the best vampire fighter that Department 19 had ever had? Or at least, he did for a minute--he did better than men who had had years of training on a simulated test, better than anyone else ever had. And yet, he is still told to stay behind when they go on missions. He still is a bit meek (mostly) when the group is fighting. Either he's a natural when it comes to fighting and weaponry, or he's not. It can't be both ways.

For secondary characters, the addition of historical characters like Frankenstein, Van Helsing, etc., was fun but also seemed a bit lazy. The author took already established literary characters (although Frankenstein was the monster and not the scientist) and didn't really come up with anything new for them, which seems like cheating a little bit.

Overall I can't say I loved this one, but I think it'll appeal to males who are looking for a bloody, gory, action story

Book Details
Author: Will Hill
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Page Count: 540
Publishing Info: March 2011 by Razorbill
Why I Read It: read good reviews
Grade: C-
Cover Thoughts: The cover looks pretty cool. My husband (a non-reader) commented and said it must be a good book. When I asked why he said it was because the cover was so awesome. Unfortunately, the story didn't live up to the cool cover.


  1. Sorry that you didn't dig it.

    I completely disagree with your review (lol, as is referenced in my review), but that's a subjective thing indeed.

    I think it may be the fact that you were looking for "vampire fiction" is where you walked into the wrong room. It's not really touted as such. I walked into it expecting a historical/mythological/adventure book, and that's pretty much what it is. And while he uses other literary characters, they never take the fore....his original characters do that. Frankenstein is not a shadow of the character he was in Mary Shelley's book....he's evolved since that...and Van Helsing is only in flashbacks.

    That said, I can appreciate the honesty of your review, ad this sort of review is tough to write.


  2. I can see where people would like the book. I didn't necessarily have any specific expectations going in, except that I was hoping I'd like it better. There were definitely interesting aspects to it, it just wasn't for me.

  3. I also wanted to add, Scott, that your review was one of the ones that made me pick this up. I think it's the type that definitely appeals to men more than women (although I do love action and typical men stuff) just because they will be able to relate more to the main character. I just couldn't, and didn't really "get" him.