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Department 19: First Edition (Department Nineteen) Paperback – February 2, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Department Nineteen Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Pittacus Lore and Will Hill: Author One-on-One

Pittacus Lore is Lorien’s ruling Elder. He has been on Earth for the last twelve years, preparing for the war that will decide Earth’s fate. His whereabouts are unknown. I Am Number Four is his first book. Recently he was able to ask some questions of fellow author Will Hill. Read the resulting Amazon exclusive interview below, or turn the tables to see what happened when Will interviewed Pittacus.

Pittacus Lore

Pittacus: From the very beginning of Department Nineteen, Jamie is thrown into an intense and dangerous covert mission yet he is resilient and brave. Who or what was the inspiration for Jamie?

Will: Jamie starts out as a bit of an everyman, who gets drawn into something much bigger than him, something he doesn’t really understand. It’s a long, proud tradition in genre fiction – a big part of the reason that Harry Potter and Star Wars are so popular is because people want to believe that they might be extraordinary, that an owl might arrive inviting them to Hogwarts, or they might discover that they are actually a Jedi.

As a result, he was inspired by all the reluctant heroes that went before him. I’ve just always loved that type of character and I wanted Jamie to follow in that tradition.

Pittacus: The action and fight scenes in your book are thrilling and believable. It was easy to imagine everything that took place. How did you write such intense and credible battle scenes?

Will: I really don’t know! I’m the least violent person you could imagine, and I would run a mile if I had to face anything that either Jamie or Number Four have to face.

To be honest, I thought a lot about the geography of the action (for some of the big sequences in Department Nineteen: The Rising, I actually drew little maps of where everyone started and ended – they looked like a football coach’s whiteboard!) – I think it makes it easier for the reader to let their imagination run riot if they aren’t having to try and work out who is standing where, and who has moved next to whom.

Pittacus: The current trend in paranormal fiction is to put a new spin on the traditional vampire legends but you’ve gone back to the source material. Why was this important to you? What do you think it brings to the book?

Will: The vampires in Department Nineteen are not completely traditional – crosses don’t work on them, or holy water, or running water, or garlic – but I wanted to use the two central aspects, the need to drink blood and the inability to go in the sun, to try and do something that was new and fresh, while still being very respectful to the classic horror stories.

My hope is that it all gives Department Nineteen a sense of history, and place; I want it to feel like this organization has been fighting monsters since long before anyone who reads it was born.

Will Hill

Pittacus: Who do you think would win in a fight, Dracula or a Mogadorian?

Will: In a straight one on one fight? Dracula, every time. He’s too fast, too strong, too old and cunning. However, the Mogadorians don’t ever seem to hunt alone, do they?

Pittacus: Jamie is skilled at running covert missions. How do you think he could have helped Number Four in his quest?

Will: Even if Jamie could take his T-bone and all his other weapons into Number Four’s world, I don’t think they’d be much help against the Mogadorians. But he would stand alongside Number Four until the very end – he’d have been there in the school and in the forest, fighting and doing whatever it took to help his friend. Loyalty is his best quality!

Pittacus: Sarah in I Am Number Four is in love with an alien. Jamie in Department Nineteen is falling for a vampire named Larissa. What makes interspecies love just so difficult?

Will: I’m assuming you don’t mean anatomically?

I think what both relationships show is that all love is difficult, not just supernatural, inter-species love. But hopefully what they also show is that it’s what’s inside a person that really matters; Sarah doesn’t fall for Number Four because he’s an alien, just as Jamie doesn’t fall for Larissa because she’s a vampire. Its part of it, I think, in both cases – the mysterious always tends to be attractive – but I think ultimately they fall in with the people themselves, not the incredible things they can do.

Pittacus: No spoilers, but what may Jamie be facing next in Department Nineteen: The Rising?

Will: The final page of Department Nineteen, which I’m certainly not going to spoil, gives a big clue as to what Jamie is going to find himself up against in The Rising. It’s going to get very, very bad for Jamie and his friends, I’m afraid – where Department Nineteen was a rescue mission, The Rising is very much a fight for survival…

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Gripping, gory, and violent, this isn't for the faint-hearted - but it's also clever, and moving, and wittily done. I can't wait for the next installment." -John Connolly, bestselling author of Every Dead Thing, The Reapers and The Book of Lost Things.
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Product Details

  • Series: Department Nineteen (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Razorbill (February 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781595144850
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595144850
  • ASIN: 1595144854
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #668,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was lucky enough to recieve this book as an ARC from librarything.com

Everyone knows that vampires are the big trend these days. So picking up Department 19, one might be subject to believe that it is just like all the rest. But Will Hill's debut novel is far from unoriginal. He leaves no plot holes, but leaves the reader craving more. His characters feel realistic and it's not hard to get sucked up in the story.

Jamie Carpenter's life is ripped apart first when is father is killed for allegedly betraying the country, and then again when his mother is kidnapped by mysterious creatures and he is hauled off to Department 19, the government's most top secret agency. He is about to learn that he has a stronger tie to Department 19 than he knows.

One of the greatest things that the book did for me was the vampires themselves. They drank blood, they were ruthless, they burned in the sun, and they were the disturbing monsters that I would expect vampires to be. Hill reverts his vampires back to how they used to be, which is fresh and a nice change of pace from all the other vampire novels out there.

As a lover of Dracula, I found the tie-in to the classic novel in Hill's book delightful. Dracula can leave a lot of people wondering what happened next after the book was finished, and Department 19 fills this gap. Hill manages Stoker's characters well, and it is clear he did all of his research before writing his book. Even if someone has not read Dracula, it is easy to pick up on what happened in the story, and what it means for Department 19. And as for those who have, it is a nice treat to revisit Van Helsing and the rest of the gang and find out what happened to them.

I hope that Department 19 and the following books in the series really take off.
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Format: Hardcover
It is awfully generous (and atypical) of me to give a book I do not intend to finish 3 stars. But honestly, there is a lot of merit to "Department 19" and it seems unfair to penalize it for the fact that I am not its intended audience.

First, it is nice to know that some publishers still remember that boys read too. A lot of YA urban fantasy has been published over the last couple of years, but almost none of it that would appeal to guys. "Department 19" takes a non-sparkly vampire approach. Vampires in this books are violent and dangerous. The whole plot is built upon hunting and killing them, as the book's cover suggests.

Department 19 is a secret government organization whose purpose is to protect humanity from vampires. The department was organized by none other than Abraham Van Helsing and his friends from Bram Stoker's "Dracula" years ago when they found out after killing Dracula that he was not, unfortunately, the only murderous vampire on the loose.

The department is still active now and the novel's main character, Jamie Carpenter, finds out about its existence when his mother disappears. It turns out, Jamie's dead father was once an employee of Department 19 and the boy now has a right to be a member of this organization too. Jamie is determined to use all the department's resources to find his mother who he suspects was kidnapped by vampires.

There is plenty for a boy to like in this book - there is action, blood and gore, weaponry, some familiar characters from several beloved gothic horror stories, interesting historical flashbacks. The story moves along quickly and is written well.

For me, however, it didn't hold much appeal.
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Format: Hardcover
To be honest, when I read the back jacket synopsis of Department 19 I didn't know how the author, Will Hill, was going to combine Frankenstein, vampires, a government agency into a book and make it work.

Of course I should have never doubted the writing prowess of Mr. Hill, as once I picked it up, I couldn't put Department 19 down. Hill takes a semi-familiar cast of characters (with the legend of Dracula/Van Helsing and Frankenstein) and changes them just enough to allow enough mystery and grittiness to fill out these characters while creating an engaging back story.

Of course besides Frankenstein (who was one of my favorite characters) Hill does a good job demonstrating Jamie's urgency and worry about getting his mother back. Hill might have gone a bit far in Jamie's expertise in vampire hunting, but if he didn't give him that then it wouldn't have been a very fair fight in the story (and it certainly makes for some fantastic action.)

Of course besides the characters, I was captivated by the story itself. I know the premise sounds a little ridiculous, but Hill makes it work. It's fast paced, engaging, and full of action. That coupled with the interesting characters, nonstop action, and engaging writing makes Department 19 a great book for boys and girls of all ages, and I personally can't wait for the next in the series.

[...]
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book for my 13 year old son and he didn't make it a full chapter before he put it down. I was curious as to why so I decided to read it myself.
So far I am about two thirds through the book and can't for the life of me figure out why he hated it so much. It is perfect for its intended audience of young teenagers. Without going into any spoilers it creates an interesting world with some unique takes on the well trod ground of vampires, werewolves, etc. There are some clear and easily believable motivations for the characters to do what they do and overall the world building was well thought out.
I only gave it 3 out of 5 stars because the there is a fair degree of predictability to the whole plot and so far no real surprises. But I suppose that is a consequence of me not being the intended audience of the book.
I'd would definitely recommend this for your 12-15 year old child who is in to the whole fantasy/horror genre.
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