Book Review: The Recruit (Cherub 1) by Robert Muchamore
The terrorist doesn’t know that one of these kids has bugged every room in her house, made copies of all her computer files and stolen her address book. The kid works for CHERUB.
CHERUB agents are aged between ten and seventeen. They live in the real world, slipping under adult radar and getting information that sends criminals and terrorists to jail.
For official purposes, these children do not exist.
With a synopsis like that I was instantly hooked. In a market somewhat overflowing with teenage paranormal romance, The Recruit is like a breath of fresh air. You guys – it’s a book about these kick ass kids who are spies. Spies!! They go on cool secret missions and hard-core training exercises and help stop the bad guys and there’s not one brooding, tortured, ridiculously attractive male protagonist (*vampire/angel/werewolf/fairy*) in sight!
Of course I am well aware that these are books aimed at young adolescent boys.
I don’t care.
James is the kind of cocky, cheeky, troublemaker that I can’t help but love. He has some anger issues, coming from a pretty broken home and crappy childhood, the kind of kid a lot of people write off immediately, (he steals, vandalises property and sometimes can’t control his temper); but he is a good kid at heart who needs some direction, is intelligent and very protective of his little sister. We sadly only get to a glimpse of their close bond here – but I’m hoping their relationship will be build on in later books.
What I loved about this book was that the story felt realistic (aside from the whole mini-spy thing). Yes, these kids are spies on secret missions for the government, but they still act like kids. James hates school, just wants to spend his time on his Playstation, eats way too many Mars bars and gets distracted by a cute girl on his first mission (bless him.) The teasing companionship, competition and closeness between the recruits was one of my favourite aspects of the book. I definitely felt I was reading about real kids, and Muchamore got the balance between trained spies and normal 12-year-old behaviour just right.
There were too many characters that I really liked to mention, but I have to talk about Kerry, James’s best friend, a feisty girl who constantly kicks James’ backside, all the while bickering and making sure he survives basic training. I can’t wait to see how these characters will develop as they grow up in the later books.
The Recruit is a story that won’t set your heart racing, and is a fairly lightweight read due to it’s target audience, but it is a fun, well-written and unique storyline that is certainly refreshing and one that has plenty of room to grow as the series follows James’s time at CHERUB. The feel and style of narration reminded me a lot of Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan (a series I adore). I’m already quite attached to James and you can bet I’ll be coming back to find out what happens to him next. I have a feeling the stories are only going to get darker and older as they go on.