I didn’t exactly bring Offspring up to swear on blogs, but then life offers a few surprises. I apologise for the first word my guest reviewer has used.
“Bloody is one word that can be used to describe Will Hill’s book Department 19. There certainly is no shortage of it in this book. And there is a constant supply of gory visions that I had hoped to never imagine, but ones that many will hopefully find disgustingly and excitingly entertaining.
Picking up this book whilst sitting in Waterstone’s, I wasn’t expecting much (based on the cover); weapons, knives, grenades and a skull-like helmet. But reading the teaser, ‘Department 6 is the Army. Department 13 is MI5. Department 19 is the reason you’re alive.’, and the blurb, convinced me to give the book a chance. Halfway through chapter one I was hooked. I then had to de-hook myself as I was in Waterstone’s for an event, but made a mental note to get hold of this book, by any means. And when I finally read past chapter one, I was not disappointed.
Jamie is a 16 year old boy who has experienced things that no 16 year old should. His father has been labelled a traitor, and bullies make life a battle. Jamie is suddenly thrown into a world that he thought only existed in books (this is a book…) when his mother is kidnapped by the vicious psychopath Alexandru Rusmanov and the girl Larissa attempts to kill him. But he is intent on rescuing her, with the help from some unlikely allies that he encounters on the way.
Department 19 is a top secret government institution, founded by the men made famous through the novel by Bram Stoker, who himself makes an appearance. An agency to fight against the supernatural, and primarily, vampires. ‘Oh no, not another vampire book,’ I hear you cry. Don’t be disheartened, this has no romantic vampires who you want to fall in love with. Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ also turns up. Adam, the body brought to life by Frankenstein, is one of the main characters, and he’s a nice guy really!
Some things that did strike me were similarities with other things. Mostly with Torchwood. Department 19 was formed under the threat of vampires, and with the blessing of William Gladstone. Torchwood was formed after Queen Victoria had faced the supernatural. And the fact that over the last 100 years both these agencies have managed to develop some pretty awesome technologies.
Throughout the book, the chapters move between different characters and different places. Whilst this at first was a little confusing, it’s a brilliant way to keep the reader going, as there were cliffhangers after each section. But I did identify the baddie quite early on.
I particularly enjoyed the reference to RAF Fylingdales in Yorkshire. Though, since I have been there, I know Will Hill’s building doesn’t exist. And I love all the references to places in real life and the detailed way he uses them for the story.
I can see how this book would make a good film, but if it is made into a film, please don’t cast Alex Pettyfer as Jamie or Dakota Blue Richards as Larissa. They might be perfect for the parts, but trust me, we don’t want them!
I loved the small teaser for the next book, which makes me want to read it when it’s out! I had got about two thirds of the way through and realised I wouldn’t be able to sleep till I had finished it.
So, this a book I would recommend to basically anyone. It is action-packed. It has great characters and a plot that means you just have to know what’s going to happen next. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t need anything else from a book. Apart from maybe a cover that doesn’t scare off potential readers.”
Review by Photowitch, because in these parts nepotism is rife. And I was threatened… And I was told it wasn’t suitable for me. So that’s anyone but me, then.