by Robert Muchamore
2004 (Great Britain), October 2005 (United States)
there have been many technical advances in intelligence operations
since CHERUB was founded, the reason for its existence remains the
same: adults never suspect children are spying on them.” (p.1)
For many of us, part of the process of growing up was wishing we could become spies. In Robert Muchamore’s The Recruit,
that wish is granted for a number of children, all who were or are a
part of CHERUB, a branch of the British Government that’s top-secret
and trains children to be spies. These children are used in missions
that adults cannot complete. They take the place of everyday children
in an everyday community, and can gain access to information that the
adults cannot reach.
Choke is a math genius who takes no pride in his schoolwork. He wakes
up one night to find his mother dead on the couch. He has no close
relatives aside from his younger sister and now has nowhere to go but
to a children’s home. After a few days at one of these homes he finds
himself in an odd room, an odd place, one much nicer than the
children’s house where he was. He finds himself at CHERUB.
we have a couple criteria for new residents here. The first is passing
our entrance exam. The second, slightly more unusual requirement, is
that you agree to be an agent for British Intelligence.’ ‘You what?’
James asked, thinking he hadn’t heard right. ‘A spy, James. CHERUB is
part of the British Intelligence Service.’ ‘But why do you want
children to be spies?’ ‘Because children can do things adults cannot.’”
James has to make his
way through basic training with a stranger, who through the process, he
happens to befriend. Kerry, along with Kyle and Bruce, are James’ best
friends at CHERUB. They help him settle in, and get used to the
routine. James has to learn a number of skills in training that he will
use on his missions. Once he passes the training, if he does, he must
embark on his first mission, to a new place, as a new person.
explores both the themes of family and friendship, and the need to push
yourself. Once James’ mom dies, all he has left is himself and his
sister. Despite an attempt to break the two apart by Lauren’s father
(James’ stepfather) the two children are persistent in staying
together. The family bond Lauren and James have is a lesson we all can
remember and take away from this book. Family should always stick
together, and always support each other when times are bad.
addition to family, the theme of friendship is evident in this novel.
James’ friends at CHERUB are the ones who allow him to be successful.
Befriending Kerry helps him through basic training, and befriending
others like Kyle and Bruce helps him to settle in at his new home. The
people at CHERUB, many of whom are all friends with each other, must
stick together. That’s the way they survive their missions and it’s
part of the lifestyle they live.
basic training at CHERUB is a grueling test of endurance, strength, and
mind power. James must push himself beyond limits to be able to pass,
let alone survive. In every situation in the book, James has to be the
best he can be. Anyone who reads this book can turn this theme into a
lesson, and learn to push themselves in every aspect of their own life.
Everyone should push themselves through their own life. Pushing
yourself allows you to be successful and live the life you want to live.
is somewhat interesting, however, that this novel about child spies was
written in the time period we are living in today. There is a war
amidst in our world, and basic security is at the highest level it can
possibly be. CHERUB uses children 10-17. Kids those ages might not be
overlooked in the world we live in today. Anyone can be considered
dangerous. Kids are not exempt from the security checks adults go
through. At airports, children are checked. At sporting events,
children are checked. Anyone in our world could be dangerous. Though
having children spies could realistically work, with the level of
security our world is at today, children spies gaining the access they
need could be very difficult. Though in many ways children spies would,
and could, be effective, they might not be as effective as people would
This book is
absolutely wonderful. It’s very suspenseful, and keeps you turning the
pages all the way through. You always want to know what happens next.
The book starts off a little slowly, but once James arrives at CHERUB,
the pace picks right up. I was very surprised, however, at how poorly
edited the book was. It didn’t take away from the reading, but I was
still very surprised. There were a number of typos. Just for example,
there was one instance where Muchamore wrote “Kery” instead of “Kerry.”
There was another instance where the word “build” was written instead
of “built.” There were a number of periods missing, along with other
typos. The grammar was basically correct, but one more proof reading
probably would have picked up these simple typing errors. For this
reason, I give the book a rating of two and a half out of three stars.
It was excellent, yet the typos brought the rating down. This book is
probably meant for children, aged 11 and up. The topic of spies
probably appeals more towards boys, yet there is no reason why girls
cannot read and enjoy this story. Being a spy is something many of us
dreamed about as kids. In this book, we see how it can be executed.
Overall, this book kept me hooked all the way through. By the time I
reached the end, I couldn’t put it down. It’s a pretty quick read, and
one that everyone should enjoy.
Jack December 2005