effcubed’s CBR-III review #10: Department 19 by Will Hill

Time to pick up the pace on the ol’ Cannonball Read–two reviews/month will not get me to 52 by the end of the year!

I’ve written about a lot of girly books so far this year, and this one is definitely not. (Well, I’m a girl, and I liked it, but you know.)

At the age of 14, British teen Jaime Carpenter witnessed his father’s murder by heavily armed gunmen. Now two years later, he’s attacked by a strange girl with red eyes and his mother is kidnapped. As if this weren’t enough to take in, he’s then picked up by Frankenstein (the monster, who has taken his creator’s name) and brought to The Loop, the secret underground lair of Department 19 which was founded in order to eradicate vampires by the men who killed Dracula and which is still run by their descendants. Jaime himself is the descendant of Julian Carpenter, Abraham von Helsing’s valet, and his dad worked for the department Jaime’s whole life, but neither Jaime nor his mother had any kind of clue. Jaime’s dad died as a traitor to the organization, having betrayed them to Alexandru one of the oldest vampires still in the world, a fact which doesn’t endear him to many of his father’s former colleagues.

After getting over some of the shock of discovering all of this, Jaime insists on attempting to rescue his mother, with the help of Frankenstein, who was one of his father’s dearest friends, and Larissa, the vampire girl who attacked Jaime on Alexandru’s orders but who was unable to kill him. Jaime goes through 48 hours of super intense military training, and is (in a narratively convenient coincidence) a complete natural. Jaime and Frankenstein follow many useless leads, and all of their attempts to find out what’s really going on keep the reader guessing til the very end. There’s a minor bit of romance between Jaime and Larissa (not surprisingly), and a pretty epic and graphic final confrontation. Hill sets us up perfectly for a sequel, though of course I can’t tell you how. Flashbacks to the beginning of the department and later missions ably fill in details of the vampire mythology in this world.

Lots of gore, plot twists and turns, and one kid’s quest to rescue his mom and exonerate his dad make this book a great read for teen guys, girls and grownups.

Library book.

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