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4.5 out of 5 stars
The Recruit (Cherub)
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you want a book that's full of on-the-edge humour, action, and is NOT about elves and dragons, than CHERUB might just be the series you're looking for.

I give it a five star rating because CHERUB is a crazy book series that's full of guy humour and stuff teenagers are bound to love. Although most of the humour and content is intended for guys, a girl would have fun reading it just the same.

The first book, entitled The Recruit, introduces the main character, James. James is your typical kid who plays video games and foot ball and never does his homework. When one day, his mom dies, he is taken to live in a children's home. He soon escapes, getting involved in gangs, smoking, shoplifting and vandalism. After getting arrested, James is taken back to the children's home where he was secretly drugged during the night and taken to the secret base of government spy group, CHERUB. The story quickly unfolds into an explosive mission!

It may sound cheesy but it's actually really, really believable! I was addicted after reading the first two chapters!

Full of swear words and Pg-13 content, make no mistake CHERUB is a series teens will love. I think the reason why a lot of kids don't like reading, is that most stories seem so fake and child proofed; CHERUB is the exact opposite. It is so on the edge, it has a "not suitable for young readers" label on the back of the newer copies! You'll also find it in the 13+ section at Chapters bookstore. I guarantee that if you're an 11-16 year old who loves action, fights, and stuff that's really cool, you will love this series.

Each book is about a different undercover mission that James and his fellow agents go on. You can really relate to the characters and they all seem like real teens. There's a book about drug dealing, there's one about a prison break, terrorism, even murder. James gets into a relationship with a new girl in every book too:) .And trust me, they all really rock (the books I mean!).

Buy the first book! It's only $9.95! You will be addicted.

« Just to let you know this series is not intended for younger kids. I wouldn't let someone younger than 11 read it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 7, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
James Choke isn't a typical 11-year old. His mom is probably the fattest mom he's ever seen, and she's a top-flight black market dealer to boot. Sure, he can get anybody in school anything they want for half off, but he can't escape his mom's looming shadow. In the space of one day, though, his luck turns incredibly sour: he's kicked out of school for fighting a girl, gets his butt kicked by the girl's brother, has to deal with his sister's dad who's around for another handout, and his mother dies from drinking while on medication. While in a depressing children's home, he's recruited for a spy agency that's so secret no one even knows what the initials stand for. After getting a hold on his life, choosing to go the way of the spy, and undergoing a grueling 100-day course, he's sent off to infiltrate a hippie community that's planning a violent demonstration. In the middle of that, he meets the girl of his dreams whose father is a cop that doesn't like him.

Robert Muchamore is, according to the author information, a private investigator working in London. The CHERUB series, four books so far, are making their way from Great Britain to the United States.

James Choke is a great character whose appeal fluctuates between being a colassal screw-up with out-of-control emotions and a kid just trying to survive who cares deeply about his little sister. He's just clever enough to get himself out of life-threatening situations, but then to get himself constantly in hot water with the authority figures at the spy school. Young readers will root for him and empathize with his problems because, spy work aside, they're not so very far from those of most adolescents.

There is a small warning with this book. The language may be more explicit than some parents are comfortable with, pushing the book definitely into the teen arena, but featuring a 12-year old hero (he has a birthday during the course of the novel). Also, his reasoning seems to be on par with a fifteen or sixteen-year old.

THE RECRUIT sets up the series nicely. Lots of action, lots of character, and plenty of spy background. A timeline dossier is also included, showing the author has thought about the special MI-5 department he's developed. Fans of Alex Rider will probably enjoy these books. There's more dialogue, but the situations are a little more edgy and adult.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had never heard anything about this book when I chose to read it a couple of days ago. I saw it as a related item to another book I was looking at, and decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed. This book tells the story of an 11 year old spy, but this is not a story filled with gadget filled missions, it tells of what sometimes felt like a too coarse world with plenty of struggles. It is a grimy life for James, the main character, filled with tragedy, vandalism, and intense physical training. However, it is also a world with friends, perseverance, and some romance.

It is hard to give a feel for this book without either making it sound like a very unoriginal and corny spy novel, which it is not, or giving away the whole plot, which is either very boring for people who have read it, or obnoxious for those who have not. It had a very imperfect main character who struggles throughout the book to figure out who he wants to be in his life. I found it refreshing to have an imperfect main character, and also found the other characters to be relatively two dimensional. The issues the novel explores were interesting, though some parts, like the excessive bullying, seemed a bit over the top and unrealistic.

I really enjoyed the book, in fact, once I started reading it, I did not put it down until the end of the day when I had finished it, but I must admit that the writing was nothing extraordinary. It was enjoyable for a light read, but the coarse language and the some awkward sentences meant that it was not as good as the story could have led it to be. The foul language and sometimes unsettling situations are something to think about before giving this book to a younger reader. In the edition that I read (it looked like the one pictured here), I spotted about four typos, and to me that seemed a bit sloppy for a published book. However, despite all of that, I really enjoyed following James through his first novel. It was a page-turner from beginning to end, and not one to be missed for teens, or anyone older who enjoy exciting, relatively realistic, adventures of espionage. I will certainly be looking for the sequels.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
My 9 year old nephew loves these so I bought the first one to take a look. On the back cover is a warning "not suitable for younger readers" which I took to be a marketing thing (what better way to get your book read by younger readers wanting to read something that makes them seem older!) However, having read the book I feel the warning should be taken somewhat seriously.

This is unfortunate though as the story would be ideal for younger readers, and indeed young teens too. It is quite reminiscent of Anthony Horowitz - a perfect scenario for boys. Who would not want to be chosen as a Cherub agent, enlisted by British Secret services for those missions that adults cannot manage?

The scenario is perfect and should make for a great and readable series. The first story was a good adventure - maybe staying a little too long on the basic training, but still one that younger readers will love, and older readers can appreciate. I fully intend to buy the next book in the series.

But the writing occasionally lets the book down. As a father, there is language in the book and some messages from the book that I would not want to put in front of younger readers, and I will not be recommending it to anyone under the age of 11. Its not terrible, and some of my problem with the language just marks me out as an old fogy! But it was unnecessary, and a real pity as this book could be enjoyed by 9+ otherwise.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
I saw this book tucked away in a bookshelf in a small old bookshop in london. I read the back and it sounded different and quite cool so I bought it. I started reading it and just couldn't stop. This book was funny, exciting, and so well written. Take it from me a twelve year old who reads almost nothing but fantasy actually enjoying a book that was somewhat realistic. Now thats a big for me! You should definitley get this book you won't regret it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
First of all I am a kid but I read many an adult book. (mainly espionage). It's a good read if you don't read very much, need summer reading but havn't read alex rider books by Anthony horowitz. I wish the author would have talked a bit less like a teenager instead of using words like [...] Also, if James were real he would have been dead before the book even started because of the rediculous amount of bullying. Of course, I have never seen anyone bullied at my school so this seemed like a bit of a foreign topic. Robert Muchamore seems to know more about video games than he should. For example the only games that were on a jet were old n64 games. Plus, if your queezy dont read this book. James, at one point must kill a chicken. He does and blood and well, chicken waste sprays everywhere. There is a bit of romance but nothing to extreme. I was very surprised to see cherub agents which are all kids smoking and drinking whenever they please. Of course james gets terribly drunk and becomes nearly unconscience. There doesnt seem o be any real danger after every trap is either inefective or easily avoided. Further There is onl a very vague villian and the book goes without a true espionage ending. However this book was still very enjoyable
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
Spies are among us, and they might now be who you think. In the midst of World War II British intelligence created a whole new intelligence operation: CHERUB. CHERUB has one extremely important qualification: you must be 17 years of age, or younger. They reason that adults would never suspect children of being spies, so if they train the children well enough, they will can gather information which adults would find decidedly harder to discover.

James Choke wasn't really your typical pre-teen. He's smart, but also a troublemaker, having strong potential to get in fights with other students. His mother heads a ring of shoplifters, so even though she never does the actual work she pulls in quite a bit of money. This means James also has unlimited access to the newest gadgets: his room is stuffed with them. Along with his little sister, he leads a fairly happy life...until his ex-stepdad (father to James' sister) shows back up, trying to weasel money from James' mom. She ends up accidentally overdosing on medication and alcohol and dies.

James is sent to a children's home and his sister ends up with James' stepdad. At the home James falls in with the wrong crowd and starts down a path that will quickly lead to jail time. Before that that come true though, he catches the eye of CHERUB. James has much of what they look for, above average intelligence, young, and parentless. They take him on as their newest recruit.

The Recruit seems primarily aimed at boys ages 10-13, and seems like it would be appealing to fans of the Alex Rider and The 39 clues (note: I have not read these series, I'm basing my assumption on what I've heard about them). James owns the coolest toys, and as part of Cherub training gets to learn some different forms of martial arts.

Do I think a 12 year old boy would like it? Maybe. To some, James will be a super cool hero who gets to go on exciting missions. However, even though it came out in 2004 in already feels dated. There are references to technology from the early 2000's that many teenage boys would roll their eyes at. Celebrities are referenced who would barely make a blip on the radar. It serves as a good testament as to why writers should avoid, as much as possible, referencing specific brands/names of celebrities, as those quickly date the novel (unless those directly affect the storyline, which isn't the case here).

There's also a lot of time before James starts his first mission. Since this is the first book in the series, a large part of the story sets up how he came to be recruited and covers his training. Parts of this are interesting, but it means the actual mission isn't as deep/detailed as the later books are sure to be.

As an adult, there are some elements which worried me as well. Several characters smoke, and many drink alcohol (including James who gets drunk at a party at CHERUB). Now, I normally don't mind if a character drinks alcohol. I also don't mind if a character is an alcoholic/drunk if it is needed for their characters. What I don't appreciate is that the drinking in this novel is performed by underage children (some as young as 11/12) and is presented lightly, almost as a cool thing to do. Also, some of it occurs at the CHERUB facility. An older girl mentions they could get in trouble for letting James drink because of he's so much younger, but the indication is that CHERUB doesn't care if the older kids drink (even though they are still underage (even though the novel is set in Britain, where my quick research indicates the drinking age is lower than the US).

For me, Muchamore tried too hard to make James a cool kid. Besides an anger problem, which doesn't play a huge role for much of the book, he doesn't have many other deep flaws. This makes me wonder how much room there is for James to grow as character. He reads, at the beginning, too much like the kid who has everything, which isn't a character that is usually interesting, especially since he doesn't really end up losing everything as he still has a cool life with CHERUB.

One of the things I did like is that spy element felt more realistic than other stories involving teen spies. They don't have outrageously unbelievable technology, and they don't go scaling walls and driving expensive cars. The missions they go on (from what I could tell) sound much more realistic.

I think the story has some potential, and given the numerous sequels, it seems to have been at least mildly popular. Given my overall disappointed in this book, however, I don't plan on trying the sequels. What will make them more effective though, is if they add more depth to James' character and are able to create extremely realistic missions that challenge the characters.

2/5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 21, 2014
Format: Paperback
I enjoy stories about child spies, like Alex Rider or the Gallagher Girls or Jimmy Coates. Cherub is a popular series from the United Kingdom, now being re-released with updated covers. I believe THE RECRUIT first came out in 2004, which meant it looked pretty dated. I missed hearing about this series when it first came out, but when the re-release came to my attention, I wanted to give this spy series a shot.

James Adams is heading towards jail. He's got an anger problem, and after his mom dies, he starts hanging out with the wrong kids at the orphanage. It's just small marks on his record now, but he's sure to eventually do something that'll really get him in over his head. But there's no reason to write him off. He has potential. And a secret agency known as CHERUB notices.

CHERUB uses children as spies, because adults so rarely suspect kids. They can enter homes unsuspected, as friends of a mark's children, or pretend to be harmless vandals. It's the perfect opportunity for James.

I liked that THE RECRUIT explored the lives of kids who aren't often protagonists, especially in children's literature. James has lots of rough edges. I also liked that it tackled difficult topics, and didn't reduce complicated issues to black and white stances. After James completes his first mission, he isn't entirely sure that things worked out for the best, since no one involved was entirely good or bad. I didn't enjoy how much time was spent on boot camp. I would've eaten up as a kid, but found it a bit distressing to read about a kid going through something that is hard on adults.

I think that THE RECRUIT could be read by younger readers - nine or so. The language isn't overly difficult, and it's very engaging. However, the subject matter (including terrorism, underage drinking, and drugs) probably bumps up the intended age of the reader. For concerned parents, I think that everything is presented in an age appropriate way and not in a favorable light.

THE RECRUIT was a fun, fast novel, but I don't think I'll keep reading the series. It skews a bit too young for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2014
Format: Paperback
James mum is a thief. He wants for nothing and has everything. He is very smart but doesn't bother using it. He accidentally hurts a girl and gets in trouble when his mum suddenly dies. His sister is placed with her father and James is placed in a childrens home. He gets involved with some bad kids in the home and is heading for more trouble when he gets sent to see a doctor. Next thing he knows he wakes up in a strange place. He is told that it is a training center for CHERUBs, young spies. He is offered a place because he is smart and the kind of person they want but is told it will be tough and he has to stick to the rules or else. He accepts and from that moment his life changes!
I've heard of this series before but haven't read it. The premise sounded awesome. Kid spies!!! While I did enjoy it, there were a few things that annoyed me. I'm going to get the bad stuff out of the way first.
What I didn't like:
I found it hard to connect to James. At the start he is like a spoiled child, he losses his temper with a girl in school and slams her against the wall. Then he shoves his teacher and causes her to fall!! He gets into trouble alot and is just all round a thug in the making. He is ashamed to be seen with his mother because she is fat. He wasn't easy to like but saying that he did grow on me. I still didn't like him but I didn't hate him either.
The first half of the book was so slow. He didn't get to the CHERUB faculty till then and he was so dislikable in the first part that I wasn't going to keep reading.
Jamess' mission. It wasn't as action packed or as good as I would of liked.
Now what I liked!!
The concept of the CHERUB facility was awesome. Kids trained as spies because adults wouldn't suspect them. They get to use cool gadgets, travel the world and become something special, so what child would turn it down. They have an intensive 100 day training course that pushes them to their limits. Each stage of training has a different colour shirt with Black being the highest.
The book really takes off in the second half, mostly. From the training till James first mission it was action packed, fast paced and intense. The missions they do are dangerous so they have to be prepared in every way. They still go to school and have to learn different languages, self defense etc. I really enjoyed that part of the book.
Overall its a solid start to what I imagine is a good series. I'm not sure if its for me because the MC was so unlikable but I do think that it would appeal to teenagers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Wow! First off, I can't say enough positive things about this book! It was fantastic. I picked it up on a whim, and I'm so glad I did. I was hooked on the series after just reading the first couple of chapters.

James is a troubled teen who has been through a lot. He has a lot stacked against him, a bad home life, bullies at school, and others to make his life miserable. Something happened on day when he was at school and he was pushed to far, and he pushed back, much more harder than he meant to and to make matters worse, something horrible has happened to someone he loves. As a result he's put in an orphanage...... then someone from MI5 wants James. Not to punish him, but to recruit him to their school for spies for kids his age. James's life is turned upside down and backwards because James has to go through 100 days of MI5 bootcamp, and it's not fun. Then after all is said and done, James is ready for his fist mission. That's all I really want to say on the plot.

This is a fantastic read. The writing style of Muchamore is fantastic. It flows at a natural pace and keeps the reader hooked through snappy and dialogue, great settings, and the ability to keep the reader hooked form the first page, to the last page, and wanting to go out as fast as they can to get the next book. I know that's how I felt. I can't wait to start the second adventure.

If you want to get your kids hooked on reading, esp boys, then this is a great series for them to read.
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