Department 19: Battle Lines by Will Hill
Battle Lines is the third book in a series and so there is a good chance that there may be minor spoilers in this review (honest, I’m not kidding around you know). Oh well, don’t say I didn’t give you fair warning.
Dracula is on the verge of coming into his full power. Department 19 is on the back foot. Ladies and gentlemen: welcome to war. The stakes? Mankind’s very survival…
As the clock ticks remorselessly towards Zero Hour and the return of Dracula, the devastated remnants of Department 19 try to hold back the rising darkness.
Jamie Carpenter is training new recruits, trying to prepare them for a fight that appears increasingly futile. Kate Randall is pouring her grief into trying to plug the Department’s final leaks, as Matt Browning races against time to find a cure for vampirism. And on the other side of the world, Larissa Kinley has found a place she feels at home, yet where she makes a startling discovery.
Uneasy truces are struck, new dangers emerge on all sides, and relationships are pushed to breaking point. And in the midst of it all, Department 19 faces a new and potentially deadly threat, born out of one of the darkest moments of its own long and bloody history.
Zero Hour is coming. And the Battle Lines have been drawn.
Battlelines, the third Department 19 novel, is released into the wild tomorrow and I have to admit I’m more than a little excited. Why so much excitement? Well, I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I’ve come to the following theory. (I like to call it Pablo Cheesecake’s Law of Increasing Returns).
When you start reading a series of novels by a debut author, book one is about that wonderful sense of discovery. You have no idea what you’re going to get. The author’s writing is very much an unknown quantity but you’re willing to take a chance. As long as there is a compelling hook, you’ll happily read the book to completion. Book two is more about recognition. You’ve read and enjoyed book one and are hungry for more. By book three, there is nothing but anticipation. You just can’t wait to find out where the plot is going next. You have your favourite characters, the author has really found their stride and you trust them to deliver something just a little bit special. Put it this way, if you’ve reached book three and your still reading, then the author must be doing everything right.
Jamie Carpenter remains a compelling central character. He has changed quite considerably from the unsure teen that we met in the first Department 19 novel. As the series has continued, Jamie’s character has continued to evolve along with it. He has now reached the point where he is a leader of men and is starting to get some insight into the responsibilities that come with that role. Lives are now at stake, excuse the pun, and in many cases it’s Jamie that is responsible for them. I love the fact that here is a lead who is not infallible. Jamie makes mistakes and sometimes pays for them. The flawed hero is always the most interesting type of hero to read.
Frankenstein is also still suffering from the aftermath of events that occurred at the end of book two, The Rising. He is beset by doubts and seeking redemption for the failures he perceives within himself. Meanwhile Valentin Rusmanov, everyone’s favourite wittily urbane vamp, is attempting to make himself indispensable at Department 19’s headquarters, The Loop. Valentin is swiftly becoming my favourite character in the entire series. Suave, snarky and more than a little aloof he is so much fun to read about.
I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again. Although this is packaged as a ‘young adult’ novel, everyone should be reading this. Action, adventure, horror and great characters combine to form a memorable reading experience. There were moments while reading this novel where I was properly stunned, in the best ways imaginable. While I was reading Battle Lines, I kept looking for an extra five minutes whenever I could just so I could read a little bit more. Thinking about it, that’s probably the highest compliment I could give any book. I was actively trying to avoid doing anything else just so I could fit in another couple of chapters. I’m beginning to appreciate a vampire’s craving for blood; Hill’s writing is addictive stuff.
Battlelines ends with a slight pause, like the calm before the inevitable storm. I suspect/hope that things are about to kick off in a most spectacular fashion. Everything is set up to ensure that the next book is going to be an absolute corker. Once again I find myself applauding and cursing Will Hill in the same breath. This book is a massive amount of fun, as are the two that precede it, but I need to know what happens next RIGHT NOW!
Department 19: Battle Lines is published by Harper Collins and is available on 28th March. If you’ve read the first two books in the series you’ll love it. If you haven’t, buy them, read them and I’ll guarantee that you’ll love it.