Book Review: Department 19

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Department 19 Department 19 by
Series: Department 19 #1
Published by in 2011
Genres: , ,
Pages: 540

Jamie Carpenter's life will never be the same. His father is dead, his mother is missing, and he was just rescued by an enormous man named Frankenstein. Jamie is brought to Department 19, where he is pulled into a secret organization responsible for policing the supernatural, founded more than a century ago by Abraham Van Helsing and the other survivors of Dracula. Aided by Frankenstein's monster, a beautiful vampire girl with her own agenda, and the members of the agency, Jamie must attempt to save his mother from a terrifyingly powerful vampire.

My Review:

Yet another debut novel. Officially my twelfth, so YAY I completed the Debut Author Challenge, though of course I will continue to read debuts as they present themselves to me.

The best way to describe Department 19 is a combination of James Bond and Dracula. At the age of 14 Jamie Carpenter watches as his father is gunned down for terrorism. 2 years later he discovers just what kind of group his father was in, and it wasn’t terrorists! Jamie soon meets Frankenstein (yes The Frankenstein) and the descendants of several famous characters from the original Vampire story, Dracula. The mix was so interesting  – the mixture of spy thriller and paranormal makes for an action novel that can appeal to all.

Just one disclaimer: this novel is extremely violent and gory. More than once I found myself gagging and passing over several paragraphs. So, if you have an easily turned stomach, this is NOT the book for you, no matter how good it sounds. Sorry.

Book Review: Across the Universe

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Across the Universe Across the Universe by
Series: Across the Univers #1
Published by in 2011
Pages: 398

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder. Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

My Review:

One of the main things that impressed me with this novel is the originality of the setting. Many people in science fiction have played with the idea of cryogenic freezing to get to a new planet that is several centuries of travel away, but most only mention that it happened. They don’t tend to go into detail of how it works and what happens. They almost never talk about what happens on the ship while the majority of its occupants are frozen. Revis builds a whole society in this gap, one that is necessary and extremely interesting in the conundrums it creates.

When I first started reading this one, I spent the majority of the time thinking of Doctor Who (and I wonder if she took any inspiration from the show, though I doubt it, as it was probably finished way before the most recent series started). Between a main character with long red hair called Amy and the cryo floor (which will always have a fog at ground level for me) it almost could have been a Doctor Who remake (without the Doctor, of course, which helped when I had to force myself to stop thinking in those terms).

Once I got past the Doctor Who similarities, though, it was a very enjoyable read. The book is part mystery, which adds another fun layer to the story. The thing I really enjoy about mysteries is trying to figure out who did it before the book tells you. I will say, I had “who” figured out by about halfway through, but I had to keep reading, because I had no idea about motive. Plus, the mystery was not the only storyline in the book, and there were other interesting things that deserved my attention!

Even having figured out the “whodunit” part of the book early on, there were some very good twists in the story right at the end that I didn’t see coming. They were the of the sort that I said afterwards “Why the heck didn’t I see that one coming?!” which is, of course, the best kind. I was glad to find that I could still be on the same side after the twist though – sometimes twists make me go “I hated you, but now I feel really awful for it,” and that can be good in some novels, but in this one I really didn’t want to feel sorry for Eldest. He is just too much of a jerk!




My only complaint (and it’s not really a complaint at all) is that the ending seemed to happen really fast. Elder tells Amy the truth, and then she’s mad for all of two pages, and then the story is over. I know if it were me, I would stay mad way longer than that! No matter what his intentions were, he screwed up her life MAJORLY. He can be sorry all he likes, but sorry won’t change that. It seems really weird that she’s only mad at him for a few seconds. On the other hand, I can understand why she did it – it’s not a really relevant plot point, and it happens after the main climax of the book, so it could have the potential of making the book seem to go on forever.  I think if it were me (and what do I know about writing? She’s published, not me) I would have shown that time passed in some way – just a short line that said something like “One week later” or something like that. But that’s just me.



Overall assessment? A really fun read, with a fresh take on the Science Fiction quest, and a little bit of every genre for whatever strikes your fancy! Go read it!



Book Review: Peeps

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Peeps Peeps by
Series: Peeps #1
Published by in 2005
Genres: , ,
Pages: 312

Parasite positives, or "peeps," are maniacal cannibals that cause illness. College freshman Cal was lucky: he contracted the sexually transmitted disease during a one-night stand, but it never developed into its full-blown form. Now he works for an underground bureau in Manhattan that tracks down peeps. Apart from the cravings for rare meat and enforced celibacy (turning lovers into monsters is "not an uplifting thing"), life is okay--until a hip, cute journalism student intensifies Cal's yearnings for companionship.


One of the things I like about Scott Westerfeld is his ability to take something very unusual and make it seem perfectly normal. In his Uglies trilogy, it was the uber-plastic surgery thing, in Peeps, it’s Vampires. To me, this novel was a breath of fresh air – the Vampires weren’t really creepy, scary inhuman creatures, and they weren’t idolized for their super abilities and possible humanity. They just were. They’re a part of the story, but they aren’t treated differently than any other character in a story would be. After the Twilight craze and all the subsequent “Vampires are soooo COOL!!! SQUEEEEEEE!!!” books, finally, this was something new.

That said, I do have a few complaints. Westerfeld structures the book in chapters, and every other chapter is a short explanation of a different parasite. The first few were interesting – they were relevant to the story and explained things like how the peeps got their “vampirism” and what it did to them. After that it just got old and a little disgusting. I have no desire to read about these little worms that live in your stomach and eat their way out of you (or the ones that live in your bed – especially as I finished reading this one just before bed the other night.)

I also felt the whole thing was a bit tired – while the take on vampires is new, the plot is plenty old, especially looking at spy, and more recently superhero genres. I’m not going to tell you why, because that would probably count as spoiling, but about halfway through I wanted to yell at Cal for being so stupid and not realizing what was going on, and before I was three-quarters through I was just like “really? I mean really? Have you never seen a James Bond movie?” (As he’s 19 and male I find this highly unlikely, but I suppose possible. Still, was he living under a rock?!) Of course if Cal knew all these things, then I suppose we wouldn’t have a story. But it’s still frustrating.

Overall, I would recommend this book to friends (especially the Twilight crazy ones), but it’s not one of those “YOU MUST READ THIS NOW!” books.

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