Book Review: The Recruit (Cherub, #1) by Robert Muchamore 

 January 8, 2023

By  Turn The Page

A ter­ror­ist doesn’t let strangers into her flat because they might be under­cover police or intel­li­gence agents, but her chil­dren bring their mates home and they run all over the place.

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.