The Recruit by Robert Muchamore
Author: Robert Muchamore Website|Twitter
Published: 3rd April 2014 (Hodder Children's') new cover edition - orginially published 2004
Format: Kindle e-book (review copy)
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Source: Received free copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Number 1 bestselling series, CHERUB celebrates its 10th Anniversary with brand new covers!
Now is your chance to start right back at the beginning with The Recruit.
A terrorist doesn't let strangers in 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.
This is one of those series I've been reading to read for a while, and the tenth anniversary finally gave me the oppurtunity to dive into the first book in the Cherub series! The story follows James who is a bit rebellious, and after a string of unfortunate incidents finds himself on a journey from troublesome schoolboy to undercover agent for a secret government agency.
There's an awful lot to like about The Recruit. I think the gritty, British feel to it really helped. James is in a bit of a rubbish situation with a mum more worried about selling shoplifted goods than she is about him and a nightmare of a sort-of-step-dad. I think with the books being written a few years ago there was a bit of nostalgia for me (references to Playstations etc.) but I loved that, and so much of it was recognisable. I liked that the author doesn't shy away from bad language as well, as the cast of kids in the book felt a lot more true to life that way.
James himself was a fantastic lead. He's a bit hopeless which I think will make a lot of people warm to him and possibly relate to him, but he really shines when it comes to his mathmatic ability so you can see the potential in him and it leaves you really rooting for him. I enjoyed seeing his relationships with the other characters, particularly his younger sister who you can tell her really cares about, and the developing friendships with fellow recruits. I liked that he's a bit younger than the majority of YA characters I usually read about, as there's still a bit of childlike innocence and naivete with him. With the series containing several books, I think it'll be great to see him grow up alongside all the other stuff.
I love books about spies, government plots and undercover detective work, so this really hit the spot in terms of genre. I loved the set up of Cherub, and I think it lets you escape into James' world to the point you end up being jealous of some of the cool stuff he does. There's a lot of build up which I think comes from this being the first book in the series. The real danger and main focus of the plot doesn't kick in until about two thirds of the way through, but I was never really bored. I was relieved when I got to that point, though, and things finally started to pick up pace.
I can see huge potential for this series, and I've actually already grabbed a copy of book two to read. I can't wait to get stuck in! If you love books like Insignia by S. J. Kincaid or the Harry Potter series, then I'd definitely recommend picking up these books. I loved getting swept along with James as he discovers his potential. I thought the writing style was fantastic and there's some great humour in there. I'll definitely be reading more by this author.
What to read next: Class A by Robert Muchamore, book 2 in the Cherub series
Books like this: Insignia by S. J. Kincaid, Spy School by Stuart Gibbs, Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone by J. K. Rowling