Department 19: Zero Hour by Will Hill

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Department 19: Zero Hour by Will Hill

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Stunning fourth installment in one of the best series around. If you're not reading Department 19, you're missing out!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 704 Date: June 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0007505852

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Spoilers for previous three books, Department 19, Department 19: The Rising and Department 19: Battle Lines, below. Read at your own risk!

Zero Hour is approaching. Dracula has risen, betrayal has left Department 19 and their allies from across the world not knowing who they can trust, and rightly or wrongly, every hero seems to have at least one secret to keep. Valentin is away searching for his brother and Dracula, Frankenstein is coming to terms with lycanthropy, and the secrecy which the department has always relied on is becoming a thing of the past.

I was expecting this to be amazingly good after loving the first three in the series so in many ways I wasn't surprised here. As ever, Hill has created a complex, twisting plot, going back and forth between numerous protagonists, and juggles the action and pacing perfectly here. Similarly, his characterisation is uniformly strong. Larissa, Jamie, his parents, the Rusmanov brothers, Dracula, Henry Seward, Paul Turner, Cal Holmwood, and Kate and Matt are all vivid, well-rounded creations.

I'm also fascinated by the development of the world that we've seen over the four books so far. While the biggest change since the start of book one is that various revelations have opened some people's eyes, at least, to the existence of vampires, the more interesting one - at least to me - is tied into this. We've seen good and evil vampires before, but in the previous book, and even more so in this one, we get to see that there are a large number of indifferent ones. They're not interested in fighting, just in surviving, in as far as vampires can be said to survive. Can Department 19 continue to kill them just for being vamps, or does this make them as bad as the vigilante groups which have formed and are panicking and attacking innocent humans? It's an intriguing question and Hill doesn't give any easy answers here.

While all of this is brilliant, but expected, where Hill really did surprise me - even with hopes as high as mine were - was in the sense of unpredictability we got. In a series like this, by the penultimate book we're almost conditioned to think that certain things will happen. I'll avoid spoilers, but I have to say, I had absolutely no way of guessing pretty much anything here. Right up until the very last death, I could have seen things going one of a dozen or so ways.

Hugely recommended as almost certainly the best ongoing series out there, book five is right at the top of my 'most wanted' list!

I think fans of this will love two stunning series which concluded last year, Gone by Michael Grant and Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf by Curtis Jobling.

Will Hill's Department 19 Books in Chronological Order

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