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Department 19: The Rising by Will Hill

Will Hill’s Department 19 was one of my favourite books of 2011 so I’ve been eagerly awaiting the sequel.  Until Department 19 came along I’d been put off vampires because most of the vampire books around seemed to be about vampires that sparkled and spent their time scowling at girls or were stuck in a love triangle.  Department 19 blew me away because Will’s vampire were vicious and would do anything to get the blood they needed to survive.  Department 19: The Rising amps up the violence, the blood and guts, and the action.

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 700 brilliant pages of Department 19: The Rising are dripping with blood and vampire guts.  The Rising is even better than the first book, as Will amps up the violence, blood and guts, and the action.  One of the reasons I loved Department 19 so  much was because of the history of the organisation and their fight with vampires and Will gives us more of this in The Rising.  At the end of the first book we were left wondering if Frankenstein survived and Will explains what happened to him and tells us about Frankenstein’s history, including his links with some horrendous vampires.  Sometimes when you’re reading a book you wish that you knew what happened to a character before you meet them, so that you know why they act the way they do, and I love that Will shows us these details.  The Rising could be half the length it is without this back-story but it’s this that makes the book so brilliant.

One thing I especially liked about The Rising is that Will shows us that not all vampires are evil.  Some vampires wish nothing more than to be human again and hide away from the world as much as they can.  They still need to feed so get animal blood from a butcher or find other ways that mean they don’t have to kill humans.  There are vampires of all ages, including fathers and daughters, and some of them just want to carry on living the way they did before they were turned.

The Rising is real boys book.  Department 19 is a secret government organisation that protects the world from the supernatural (especially vampires) and they’re equipped with some great weapons, including the T-Bone, a gun that fires a stake at vampires.  There’s more blood and guts in this book than what I’ve seen in any vampire movie.  Whenever a vampire is staked in the heart it explodes like a balloon leaving the Operators covered in blood and chunks of vampire.  Will has written some of the best fight scenes I’ve ever read, with blood squirting everywhere and they left me feeling quite queasy.

Anyone who loved Department 19 should get their hands on The Rising and you should shove the Department 19 books into the hands of any teenage boy you know.  They’re perfect for readers of Anthony Horowitz, Robert Muchamore and Darren Shan.

5 out of 5 stars

NB: I know some primary schools have the first book in their libraries but I wouldn’t suggest The Rising for your library unless you really know your readers can handle it.

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Night on Terror Island by Philip Caveney

Have you ever wanted to be in a movie?  Kip gets this chance when he meets the mysterious Mr Lazarus in Philip Caveney’s latest book, Night on Terror Island.  Kip’s dad owns the Paramount Theatre, a small movie theatre that is under threat of going out of business because of the big multiplex cinemas that have popped up.  Kip loves the Paramount and helps his dad out whenever he can, making the popcorn, selling candy and the tickets.  Just when things are really bad and their projectionist decides to retire, the myterious Mr Lazarus appears and offers to take up the job and turn things around.   Something isn’t quite right with Mr Lazarus though; he knows things he shouldn’t about Kip and his family and he can make things appear out of thin air.

As Kip gets to know Mr Lazarus he uncovers the truth about this strange man and Mr Lazarus shows Kip his secret invention.  The Lazarus Enigma is a special machine that can project people into movies.  Kip thinks this sounds amazing, but when you’re in a film, everything is real: real bullets, real swords, real monsters.  If you don’t get out by the time the closing credits roll, you’ll be trapped in the film forever!  When Kip’s sister gets transported into a horror film called Terror Island, it’s up to Kip to go into the film and get her back.

Night on Terror Island is a gripping, fast-paced story full of action, adventure, magic, hungry saber-toothed tigers and killer Neanderthals.  It’s clear that Philip Caveney loves movies and the magic that they bring to children and adults.  He’s perfectly captured the desire to want to be inside the world of movies.  I’m a bit like Kip because I’d rather be transported into a comedy or a children’s movie, rather than a horror.  My favourite thing about Night on Terror Island though has to be the character of Mr Lazarus.  He’s such a mysterious character and I’m still not sure whether he is totally good or whether he is a little bit sinister.  I feel like Philip didn’t quite tell us everything about Mr Lazarus, which is why I liked him so much.  I’d love to read more about Kip and Mr Lazarus’s adventures in the world of the movies so hopefully Philip Caveney writes some more about them.

8.5 out of 10

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Phoenix Files: Contact by Chris Morphew

Contact jumps straight back into the story of Jordan, Luke and Peter, three of the inhabitants (or prisoners) of the town of Phoenix.  It starts off right where the first book, Arrival ended with Luke, Peter and Jordan hearing the ring of a phone and running off to find out who the phone belongs to.  You learn in the first book that the phones and internet don’t work in Phoenix so it’s strange to hear a phone ringing.  This mysterious phone sets off a string of events that Luke, Peter and Jordan get caught up in.  The people who are in charge of Phoenix discover that the three of them are snooping around, so their principal gives them tasks to keep them busy.  This doesn’t stop them investigating the plans of the Shackleton Cooperative to bring about the end of the world, and as they uncover more secrets they find themselves fighting to save themselves and the ones they love.

Contact is fast-paced and so suspenseful that I found I was racing to finish the book.  Luke, Peter and Jordan get themselves into some really tight situations in this book and you wonder if they are going to get out of them alive.  The part when they are in Ketterley’s office really had me on the edge of my seat, hoping that they didn’t get caught.  One of the things I liked best about Contact is that Chris Morphew told the story from a different character’s perspective.  We see things from Peter’s point of view, which is quite different from Luke’s in the first book.  Hopefully the third book, Mutation will be told from Jordan’s perspective.  I’m going to get started on Mutation straight away because I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Recommended for 12+.   10 out of 10

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Robert Muchamore talks about People’s Republic

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