Book review: Department 19: The Rising by Will Hill (HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks, 2012)
91 days till zero hour. That’s 91 days to run. 91 days to hide. Or 91 days to pray for Department 19 to save you…
After the terrifying attack on Lindisfarne at the end of the first book, Jamie, Larissa and Kate are recovering at Department 19 headquarters, waiting for news of Dracula’s stolen ashes.
They won’t be waiting for long.
Vampire forces are gathering. Old enemies are getting too close. And Dracula… is rising.
The first novel in this series, Department 19, was very much enjoyed by both myself and the Squeeze, who found it a welcome break from the sparkly so-called vampires of you-know-what. When we found out the sequel had come out, we both looked forward to reading more about the secret government department that was once founded by Professor Van Helsing and the rest of the cast of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
As you will remember if you read the first book, the events on Lindisfarne saw Alexandru Rusmanov, one of the oldest vampires in the world, dead. However, that didn’t stop his brother Valeri and his cronies from finding Dracula’s remains in Department 19’s Russian counterpart, and they’re trying to resurrect him. It will take about three months before he’s fully restored to his former power (i.e. the Zero Hour), and the operatives of Department 19 have to find him and take him down before then, as otherwise he’ll be near invincible.
Everywhere Jamie Carpenter and his fellow operatives Larissa and Kate go, there are writings on the wall: HE RISES. They just have to do the best they can to apprehend vampires. Not necessarily destroy – the new perogative is to catch them alive, so that they can be handed over to the mysterious Lazarus Project and the congenial Dr Talbot.
There are a few niggles to sort along the way, however … Jamie is still grieving for his friend Frankenstein AND his mother is now a vampire; Jamie and Larissa is a couple, despite this being against Department rules; a werewolf is on the loose in Germany, and somewhere in America, a man is on a vision quest …
Expectations were high for this book, as the first one was great. Department 19: The Rising does not disappoint. While the title is misleading – The Rising implies that Dracula’s Zero Hour happens within this book … and it doesn’t. Sorry if that’s a spoiler, but I think it’s worthwhile pointing out. It’s still over 80 days (84? 86?) to go by the very last page of the book, but I didn’t mind. Not at all.
There are just so many things going on that you don’t have time to stop and question it. The identity of the man in America was a surprise, I have to admit. The werewolf … at first, yes, but there were enough clues to make you figure it out soon enough. As for the Lazarus Project … the Squeeze caught the drift sooner than I did.
Like before, there were flashbacks to the past. 1920s Paris, and way back when in Romania when Dracula was first turned. This was actually really interesting to find out about. I have no idea if it’s general Dracula and/or vampire lore, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.
The romantic struggles of teenagers get a little space, but not too much. They have enough issues as it is. There are also moral struggles to get through for Jamie, and they’re handled really well. It’s not always clear-cut what the right thing to do is, and he’s still learning, but he’s growing up to be a good man. Or so I hope. There’s a bit near the end that definitely counts as a crowning moment of awesome. I really didn’t expect it, and burst out in a “HAH!” when reading it. When you see it, you’ll know the one I mean.
I could probably go on and on and on about how entertaining this series is proving to be, but I need to get going. If you like vampires, REAL vampires, you’ll enjoy this. If you liked the first book, you’ll definitely enjoy this. I didn’t even mind the gore so much this time (there can’t have been less of it). The writing style is still cinematic and I would freakin’ LOVE to see a big-screen adaptation at some point.
Will Hill, sir, you’ve done it again. The Rising feels innovative, is full of action and the characters have flaws that make them all the more real. Can’t wait for the next book (in a few months), Department 19: Battle Lines. This is great.
5 out of 5 UV grenades.