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4.8 out of 5 stars
Zero Hour (Department 19, Book 4)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I have been obsessed with this series for the last couple of weeks and couldn't wait to get my hands on book 4! I will be honest and say I thought it would be the last one in the series - it is not!!! There is one more to come, this book ends with the simple words 'to be concluded' but those simple words hold so much weight and meaning. I can't believe I have to wait to find out how it all ends. Considering this book only came out in June - it's going to be at least a year until the next one, how can I possibly wait that long!? I hope I am wrong and it's much sooner than that - I have to know how it all turns out.

Anyway onto the review -

Zero Hour continues where Battle Lines left off but a couple of months further down the line - the hour of Dracula's return is closer than ever and the Department 19 team are pushed to their limits. Every officer available is out on recon missions - scouting out vampires and bringing them down, some more dangerous than others, but each day the threat rises and life becomes a struggle just to survive.

Our main character is still Jamie but Larissa, Matt, Katt, Turner and Holmwood all play much bigger parts and that's how I like it. The whole organisation seems to have come to life and all of the people feel like team mates - people I know and trust. They step off the page and into my mind and heart, I route for them, fight with them and feel their hope and loss. I could not be further into this world without physically climbing through the pages and now I have finished this book I feel a little lost.

At one point I looked at this book and thought 'how can this not end in 700 pages - surely there can't be that much too it, and another book to come?' but my word you would be surprised - the pages are filled with everything and anything - but it is all vital to the story, every single bit works towards the final hour and builds the world, the characters and the plot. And I soared through those 700 pages, never looking back, desperate to know what happens but dreading the end. I don't know how Will Hill does it, I really don't. These books are just incredible and the writing just flows off the page. These books could be twice as big and still not be enough for me!

I am so happy to have discovered this series and proudly name it as one of my ultimate favourites. I highly recommend it and think everyone should read it.

Slight warning that there is a lot of violence, blood and gore included so younger readers need to take care.

I now sit, waiting for news on book 5 - waiting for the day Dracula faces Larissa and Jamie again, wondering what the outcome will be. For the moment though, I have found 5 short stories from the series on Amazon and downloaded them on my kindle, so I can still dip into the world of Department 19 and find out a bit more about it's past. This may help to maintain my sanity - for now!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2015
Zero Hour is the fourth book in the Department 19 series. However, don’t let that put you off, especially if it is going to be your first read of the series. First, you won’t have a problem following the story; second, you are not going to get bored.

Now, where do I start? Yes, the end of the world is nigh. By “nigh”, I mean just a little over a week. Dracula has risen, with the help of his loyalists. Department 19 (D19) is pursuing various leads to stop him from taking over the world as well as preventing the public from knowing the truth about vampires.

John Bell, a.k.a. Adam, has been on the D19 radar for a while. He is the only one rumoured to have been cured of vampirism in recent memory. Needless to say, his blood is precious to D19 who sees it as a resource to manufacture a weapon to give humanity an edge against Dracula in the war to come. The first mission to retrieve Adam fails - few team members were hurt by a bomb planted by their target. D19 sends another team and though they get the blood, they could not get their hands on Adam, who commits suicide.

Vampire_by_LFcorpFor a long time, people assume Valeri Rusmanov is Dracula’s first victim, the first person he turned into a vampire. However, new information from Grey, the oldest vampire in the UK, reveals that the first victim isn’t Valeri but another. Thus D19 sets up a squad to find this new person, who is said to have been living in the dark forests of Romania for centuries.

Amidst these missions is the tension between Carpenter (the son of a D19 legend), Larissa (a pretty lady turned vampire) and Tim Albertson, a D19 officer infatuated with Larissa and seeking to damage her relationship with Jamie, her boyfriend. Also, the feud between Valeri Rusmanov and Valentin, his younger brother, is leaving trails of dead bodies strewn around Europe as various nets close in on Dracula’s secret location.

Department 19 – Zero Hour is a horror-action novel that goes full-throttle from the first page and does not let up till the last. Not many writers have a knack of writing incredible fight scenes, but Will Hill seems to have a gift for it so much so that some of the battle descriptions will haunt you off the page.

The narrative style reminds me a bit of James Hardley Chase – loads of short, simple phrases, clear and effective. At over 700 pages, Department 19 – Zero Hour may seem like a fairly big book, but you are likely to wish for more as you approach its end.

My gripe with this book is the use of clichéd characters like Dracula and Frankenstein. It makes the writing, which is of a good quality seems cheap and fan-fic-like. Despite this, I would recommend what I think is a fantastic book to action-horror fiction adherents.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
When I read the first Department 19 book, I stated that it was the best action horror that I had ever read. And then Will Hill raised the goddamn bar with his second book, The Rising. Then, like the great Sergey Bubka, he teased us by raising that bar even more for Battle Lines, and as spectators we were left wondering whether Will Hill had it in him to continue doing so. All we could do was watch and wait. And now Zero Hour is upon us, and yes, that bar has gone up again and Hill has sailed over it.

Before I continue, a word of warning. This is the fourth book in the series and as such this review will contain spoilers for previous books, so if you haven't read them then please do not read on. Secondly, I'm not sure how much I will be saying in this review anyway - with every new book that comes along in this series it feels more and more wrong to mention plot points in a review. Seriously - if you want to know what happens then just read the book.

As a quick reminder, the end of Battle Lines left us with 46 days till Zero Hour. Things had not gone well for Jamie and his team (understatement). Jamie's friends had also gone through hell, whether physically or emotionally, both in the UK and, for Larissa, over in the US. And then there is the matter of Julian Carpenter - alive and well, and back on British soil, but as a high security prisoner whose identity is known only to one or two people.

Zero Hour picks up the story with seven days till Zero Hour, and things are beginning to look very desperate indeed for the members of Department 19. The breakthrough they have been hoping and praying for just hasn't materialised. Kate and the Intelligence Division have data that predicts nothing but disaster of apocalyptic proportions for the world's non-vampire population. Larissa is wracked with guilt as she strongly suspects that Julian Carpenter is alive, but she can't find a way of telling Jamie. Jamie himself is still reeling from the events of Battle Lines, and also struggling with the growing realisation that his girlfriend is one of the most powerful vampires in the world, so where does that leave him, a mere mortal human? Matt Browning has been working night and day, desperately trying to find a cure for vampirism, but so far his efforts have all been in vain. And then there is Valentin Rusmanov, now allied with Department 19, but long absent, off on his own search for an answer to their prayers.

So, all things considered, things aren't looking good for the human race.

And then things get worse.

On finishing Zero Hour I sent Will Hill a Twitter message, congratulating him on what I thought to be his best book yet, and I told him it was his Empire Strikes Back. There are two reasons for this: the first is that the first two three quarters of the book are a gradual build up to the climactic final quarter (more about that in a minute). The second was the feeling you get, as you turn the pages, that things just can't get any worse. And yet then they do. And again, you think, oh well, at least things can't get any worse. And then they do, again. And this continues again and again as the plot progresses, and all of the time you know that every crappy little thing that is thrown at the D19 team is only a precursor to everything hitting the fan when Dracula finally reaches full strength. There were times when I felt slightly sick with nerves reading this as I have become so invested in these characters over the past few years. Especially given what happened to Shaun Turner in The Rising: we already know that Will Hill has the balls to kill off key characters.

So how could things possibly get worse for the D19 team? Well, I've thought long and hard about what I should or shouldn't reveal, and I decided that I would expand on one key plot point only. Simply put, word gets out. We sort of guessed this would happen following the events of Battle Lines, but now we are talking worldwide media coverage, social media and YouTube, and all the grief that that brings with it: protests (by both vampires and humans); condemnation of the work of D19 by the press; accusations of ethnic cleansing. Not exactly what the team needs to keep them focused as they prepare to do battle with their greatest foe and the biggest ever threat to mankind. However, as far as things getting worse for the team, this is only one of them, and in some ways fairly minor considering some of the other big reveals that come in this book.

Just now I said I would mention more about the climactic final quarter of the book. However, before we reach that point I want to touch on three moments in the first three quarters that pretty much took my breath away. The first was a major fist-pump moment which happens just as the clock has ticked over to two days until Zero Hour. I'm not saying any more other than it sort of relates to my favourite character in the series and it's nice to see justice done. I reckon Will Hill took great delight in writing this particular scene. The other two key moments happened within twenty pages of each other and I actually uttered a word that I can't and won't repeat here when I read it and I felt as if I had been punched in the gut. And if that wasn't enough, twenty pages later I was left with more than a few tears in my eyes as Hill tore out my heart and crushed it. Will Hill has balls of steel and does not hold back in this book!

And then there is the climactic final portion. Seriously, if you have any energy left when you get to the chapter titled "The Calm Before" I suggest you put the book down, go outside and get a breath of fresh air. Perhaps treat yourself to a bar of chocolate and a can of red Coke (or whatever your beverage of choice happens to be) because hell, you are going to need it! The final part of this book is fast, furious, bloody, violent, and definitely takes no prisoners. It's a no-holds-barred climax that comes with one rule only: kill or be killed, and should come with a theme park style warning about readers with heart conditions, etc.

You also need to make sure that you have plenty of time to finish the book, as once you start reading this chapter you will find it impossible to put the book down until you have reached the final chapter, more than 100 pages later.

With the fifth and final book titled Darkest Night I have a feeling that things are probably going to get even worse before this series comes to an end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 September 2014
I was a bit annoyed with the first book, because the heroes were so fixed in their hatred of vampires, where as we, the readers, saw vampires as good and bad and often an uneasy mix of both. By this book it is clear that Mr Hill understood what he was doing and was challenging the readers to disagree with the consensus.

Though the hero of the book is Jamie Carpenter, for me, the stand out character is Larissa. She is the reason I pre-order Mr Hill's books. He has created a sidekick/friend/lover who stands out in the field. And he keeps her and Jamie human, even though she hasn't been from day one.

This is a great adventure story, a great fantasy, an evolving series that grows in stature with every book published. This is the best so far, but I expect the next book to be better.
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on 21 April 2015
This is so much more than a book for children! It grabs your attention from the very start and takes the reader on roller coaster ride, saying to save the world as we know it to the very end of the book. It is superbly written in an engaging style with strong characters - both ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Whilst this is the fourth book in the series, it can still be read as a stand alone - I hadn’t read the others but still thoroughly enjoyed this rip roaring adventure.

Dracula, vampires, cures for vampirism, disappearing allies, familiar faces reappearing, horror, miracle cures, mystery and mayhem all have a part to play in this hot paced horror story. I’m desperate not to give away any spoilers so will say nothing more about the fantastic plot and well defined and developed characters. This is a story that entertains, engages and enthralls the reader - child, young adult or older! Very highly recommended!

Thanks to the author, publishers and NetGalley, too, for letting me read an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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on 29 October 2014
The first book in this series was cracking. From the start it never let up and I was engrossed. The second book was not as good, but that could be forgiven as the first one was soooo good. The third was shocking. It sagged in more parts than I did when I hit 30, and it felt that the author was just padding it out to get this to a five book series. So I purchased the fourth, only beause I was armed with the knowledge that this was the penultimate book. This has better content than the last book and moves the story along well. But I have become disengaged from the characters, and have stopped rooting for them .
Will I buy the last book ? Hell yes, just to see if Mr Hill can deliver the goods like he did in the first.
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on 8 June 2014
Amazingly good book

SPOILER ALERT

The problem I had with this book was that Dracula was under powered and Jamie becoming basically a God in like a couple days it just kind of seems rushed and also the relationship between Jamie and Larissa is soooooooo slow they have known each other for ages and they don't take it further still it's an exceptional book and I thoroughly enjoyed it I would recommend to anyone

PS: you must read the whole series In order otherwise you can't follow the plot
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Smart, incisive and beautifully, if disturbingly descriptive at times, this book answers questions raised in the earlier stories and introduces new ones for adventures yet to come. It moves through at a lightning fast pace combining the arrival of unexpected acts of heroism from unlikely characters with enjoyably predictable"Step-ups" from those we already love. Then, behind it all, the reader is never allowed to forget the ever present catastrophe that the rise of DRACULA represents. SIMPLY PUT ... IT'S BRILLIANT!!
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on 8 November 2014
No words describe the intricate plot and characterization. Perfect for any reader who is good at guessing plots as this one is a twisting a turning tale that can make you laugh and cry in the space of mere pages. Its also got a realism that many similar books lack. With its feet firmly in scientific soil, its gives you a reason why things happen. If you have ever enjoyed an action movie - then this is right up your street.
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on 20 June 2014
I have followed the series right up to the end of this novel. This has all the same 'unputdownabilty' of the previous books on the series and kept my interest until the end. I imagine that we will see more on this series on the future. I gather this book is in the publisher's children's section. I would rate it as young adult - although I am myself a pensioner - because of language and description of violent scenes.
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