Jamie saw his dad die by a line of gunman in is front yard with suspicious shadows moving along the edges of the scene. Everyone told him that his father was a traitor and a homeland terrorist to England. The other kids were told the same and treated Jamie like he was the traitor. Not feeling up to the bullies one day, he skips school to laze about in a park. But he wakes up to a vampire sparing his life. He rushes home to find his house empty, his mother kidnapped and himself barely saved by a monster from an underground government organization. Jamie is forced to the department where he is the only one who wants to attempt the rescue of his mother. So he suits up, trains, and goes after those vampire scum.
That little synopsis doesn't do the story justice. There is so much going on. You can get the family, government and vampire aspect, and maybe a bit of the politics. But the monsters and many characters are taken and extrapolated on straight from Bram Stoker's Dracula. Hill knows that story backwards and forwards, and proves that. He even goes into Stoker's history. (Which I know, because of class last semester. . . and if you followed my thread last year, you may remember my dissatisfied attitude towards the book). Anyway, Hill's book spans the time right after Dracula's conclusion into the 21st century, so he's got a decent grasp on some historical bits. I enjoyed the extrapolation, though it was a bit iffy in places.
The best part was that there was actually violence and gore! So much of the recent paranormal YA is action or romantic--there may be danger and suspense, but those are pretty kid friendly. Department 19 has evil characters that not only want to kill you, but to tear you apart slowly, savor your blood, and make you watch it done to everyone else. Not only do the vampires want that, they actually deliver. Ah, no sparkles here :D
The only part that bothered me a bit was the romance between Jamie and vampire Larissa. I know--I said no sparkles, and there aren't any. She drinks blood and is violent. She attempts to indulge in revenge. And I really do like her character. But the beginning of their relationship just felt weird. Though, I didn't mind it at the end, once it was established.
This is the first of a trilogy that I think has great potential. I can't wait to see how the characters and the department handle what happens during the final battle and the implied situation to come.