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Maximum Security is the third books in Robert Muchamore's popular Cherub series. This series is intended for teenage boys, and I can certainly the appeal, but it has a very large following of adult readers as well, and as much as it has surprised me, I have really taken to this series, planning to start on book 4 tonight, with books 5 and 6 already ordered.
As I have mentioned previously, the both the CHERUB series, and Muchamore's Henderson's Boys series are all built around a very implausible idea - children being used in spies by the British government. The Henderson's Boys series sees the children originally brought in by accident, and a small group of children with little left to lose involved in the conflict in occupied France. This series however has a huge campus with hundreds of unwanted children trained to take part in deadly missions around the globe. The whole idea is completely impossible - but then so are many popular story lines today. At least there are no flying broomsticks, romantic vampires, or even zombies. Once you get past the impossibility of such an organisation existing the stories are very good, and for the most part quite believable.
I did find this the least plausible storyline so far. In this case James, his younger sister Lauren, and another CHERUB agent are loaned out the the FBI. The boys are placed in a maximum security prison for children in the Arizona desert in the hopes that they can befriend another inmate, and use him to get to his arms smuggling mother. Lauren is only 10 years of age and is meant to be involved in helping the boys escape. One the escape is reported, all of Arizona's police will be looking for armed and dangerous children, with justification to use deadly force if necessary. The risk to the children is exceptionally high - which makes it very unlikely that MI -5 would send any British agents much less children, especially into a situation where the British have no jurisdiction, and very little excuse for involvement.
I also felt the story was a bit rushed. The main events all take place in a matter of only a few days. In reality government agents spend years cracking a case, and successfully infiltrating such a security conscious group often involves being undercover for years. CHERUB cases, just like all the good crime show cases on telly always end up solved very quickly. After all we can't have our child agents grow to old for the role after only one or two cases. These two complaints very nearly brought my rating down to 4 stars on this book. But the fact remains that I am not the target audience, whom I think will be less likely to nitpick and more likely to just enjoy the story. And even with my complaints. I still had a very hard time putting this book down. It is a fast moving story with a more than enough action and adventure and very strong well developed characters.
I have always liked the fact that Muchamore often blurs the line between the good guys and the bad. The villains are usually not totally evil. Sometimes it is hard to decide if a character is meant to be a villain, or just a person with difficulties. It is easy to feel empathy for most of the characters. There are a few though, who should be the good guys, in this case guards entrusted with the care of children, who are every bit as bad - if not worse than the inmates they watch over. In particular, the character of Curtis, whom James is sent to befriend is a troubled soul. But he has committed some pretty horrific crimes and can at times act without any trace of compassion or remorse. I do not believe this book was written with the intention of making a political statement. All the same it is impossible to write about something so controversial as the circumstances that these children are kept in without leaving the reader wondering at system that allows this.
Another aspect I liked about the book is that the children do not have a raft of top secret gadgets. They do end up with a glock at one point, and the gun is described in detail. I think boys will enjoy reading about the various weaponry, but it is not top secret spy gear. The children succeed or fail, based on their wits and courage. While there is obviously a great market for fantasy and magic - many young readers do prefer something just a bit more realistic, and aside from he idea of children being used in such a manner, Muchamore never stretched the realms of possibility too much.
Because this book is a long series, it also deals with the development of friendships and relationships between the children which carry on from one book to the next. These friendships face tests and tribulations which many children will have to deal with at some point in their lives and handles them, in what I feel is very positive manner. James' continuing struggles to deal with his best friend coming out are finally laid to rest - in an especially funny and confident manner.
The first book in this series started out with the main character only 12. James Adams is still only 13, but developing an interest in girls which at times is less than polite. I feel this is completely in keeping with normal behaviour for boys at this age, but I understand it has caused some offence, and this series has been pulled from some American school libraries. I will point out that at least at this point in this series, there is nothing in this that would cause me to keep my 7 year old from reading this, but we each have our own standards for such things. There is some bad language as well, although I considered it both limited and quite mild. There is fairly graphic violence, and extreme cruelty though with children as the victims in some cases. The back of this book is clearly stamped " Not suitable for younger children". I do expect this series will become less suitable as it goes along, but at the moment, there is nothing I find too upsetting. There are themes that some parents mat take offence at though, including reference to teenage pregnancy ( although no mention is made of how this occurred). Drug abuse doesn't really come into this one, but peer pressure does, and in it's most ugly form.
I believe Muchamore's strong point is that he writes about teenagers as they really are. This does include violence, swearing, and some issues parents might rather never come up. But I think the fact that he does create realistic characters is what makes children want to read his books, and I'd hate to see his writing style change to satisfy the critics. True, I have found his earlier series inappropriate for my own son, but my child is only 7. I have a very different standard on how much "adult" material should be allowed into a book for a 7 year old than I would with a 12 year old. Ultmiately though, if any of these topics concern you - get the book and read it before giving it to your child - or at least read it as well so that you can discuss any topics you find controversial. I would point out though, unless your child is both home educated and very isolated from other children his age, there isn't anything at all here the average 10 year old does not know about. I would have no problem with a younget child reading this, but I don't really think it will appeal to children under age 10 -12, depending on the child. The reading level is adult, so this would not be suitable for a developing reader.
Cherub: Maximum Security
THE CERUB SERIES
The Cherub series first came out several years ago and the first book caught my attention and after reading that one I was hooked. Maximum Security is the third Cherub book written by Robert Muchamore and by this time the books were becoming rather popular. The books up to maximum security are as follows:
1. The recruit (April 2004)
2. Class A (October 2004)
3. Maximum Security (April 2005)
Cherub is an intelligence organisation but with a twist, children between the ages of ten and seventeen are the spies. Cherub agents are specifically picked using criteria which includes things like being orphans or having parents who would not track them down, high intelligence and shows good potential to be a spy. The Cherub books focus and James and Lauren Adams, brother and sister who joined Cherub many years ago after becoming orphans. Every lucky chosen child must go through 100 days of gruelling basic training at the age of 10 or above where they are physically, mentally and emotionally put to the test. Before the age of 10 the kids live in the junior block where they train and learn in order to become more equipped for most basic training and life after. All the children live and train on the Cherub campus which is very well equipped for all their needs.
In this book the British government is trying to track down Jane Oxford, an international arms dealer. James undergoes a mission with an older boy called Dave Moss and his younger sister which requires him to break Jane's son, Curtis out of a maximum security American prison in the hope that he will lead the intelligence services to his mother. Dave and James are locked away in the prison whilst Lauren is the Cherub to help them once they have broken out. However their plans start to fall apart when a huge fight breaks out in prison resulting in James being sent to solitary and Dave has to be rushed to hospital after he receives a very grave stab wound. This is huge set back before the planned escape even starts, perhaps this mission is just beyond James' capabilities.
This book was fantastic and I don't use that word lightly. Personally I would say this was the best one yet, the main plot was fairly simple yet gripping and complications surrounded the whole bases of the story. I read this book twice within a week, mad you might say but I really enjoyed it and wanted to read it again straight away! At times you are left wondering what on earth could happen next and as a result you just can not put the book down. Be warned of this before you start reading! The story line and whole bases of the books is overly exciting to children, especially since it is something they can relate to whilst being (fairly) realistic as well as having an immense sense of adventure and excitement. I would say the main drawback of this book would be that it would be helpful to read the previous two as they are written in a series, perhaps not so much as the Harry Potter books but definitely there are issues which relate back to previous books. The books is fast moving and exciting making it so easy to read and enjoy.
I think this book is suitable for both boys and girls equally. Muchamore has carefully written these books not to exclude either one of the genders and has definitely written the books very well to target the right audience. This book does contain a large amount of violence throughout due to the nature and plot of the book so I would recommend this book to be aimed at about 12 years old. Children of this age should find this book at a reasonable standard to read. I think some children under this age would also be able to but due to the violence in the book I believe that is down to the parents on whether their child enough is emotionally mature enough to cope with these issues.
Publisher - Hodder Children's Books
RRP - £6.99 however it can be found for much cheaper than this for example it's only £4.99 on amazon.
There are two covers to this book, one is the original English version which has the picture of a barbed wire fence and the American cover which has one of those guard towers on the front and a slightly different layout to the English version.
More information on this book, the author , the other books in the series and preview chapters can be found at www.cherubcampus.com. I recommend reading the preview chapters if you are interested as these can help decide on whether this sort of book your type but I still recommend giving them a chance.
Thank you for reading.
This is the third in the Cherub series by Robert Muchamore.
In this book James finds himself in Arizona, USA, along with his sister fresh from qualifying to become an agent after a gruelling final exercise in the Alaskan wilderness and David Moss, an older experienced agent.
James finds himself locked in Arizona Max, a desert prison for kids who have been convicted of serious crimes, with David. His mission - to escape with his target Curtis Oxford in the hope that he will lead him to his mother, an illegal arms dealer.
This book was yet again brilliant. Each page is packed with excitement - car chases, weapons, prison breakouts, and much more.
The great narrative allowed me to be locked up in that prision along with the characters. You could hear the sounds, smell the smells, feel the tension, its not often that a book has done that to me!
You learn how important it is for the boys to be in gangs to look after each other. For kids reading the book they will have a clear insight into a life they will probably never see.
Danger lurks round every corner and you just don't know what is coming next, I read this is one sitting, as I just didn't want to put it down.
On the back of the book is a warning that it is not suitable for younger readers. I would agree with this as there is a lot of violence and deaths.
Take a look at http://www.cherubcampus.com/index.html for more information about the cherub series.
There will be 12 books in total in the series:
1. The recruit
2. Class A
3. Maximum Security
4. The Killing
5. Divine Madness
6. Man vs. Beast
7. The Fall
8. Mad Dogs
9. The Sleepwalker
10. The General
11. Brigands MC (Due late August 2009)
12. Shadow Wave (Due late 2010)
There is also another book, which was written for world book day in 2008 - Dark Sun (Only available now online)
Maximum Security is book three of the CHERUB series. This one has to be my favourite of the entire series. James, after usually sending people to jail now has to break one out. Curtis' (a youth who has been sent to jail for life) mum is a huge criminal and has stolen some missile launchers from America. James' job is to find out where she is and more importantly, where the missile launchers are. Arizona Max is the name of the jail and it is a Maximum Security prison (ironic don't you think) in the middle of the desert. Inside Arizona Max brutal chaos erupts everywhere all the time. James makes enemies as soon as he enters, will this cost him his life or will he manage to overcome them and complete his mission.
This book is defiantly my favourite. I enjoyed every page of it and loved the action involved. This series is a very uncommon series because for most spy film you have the main character as the best fighter or something like that. But in this book James isn't the best at fighting or learning languages or anything like that, he's just a normal kid.
This book rules. I personally love action packed thrillers, and this series has to be the best for it. If you've started the series just wait until you get to book three.
After reading Robert Muchamores' first two books in the Cherub series, The Recruit and Class A, I found myself itching to proceed on through the rest of the series. The third book titled Maximum Security is about the main protagonist, embarking on a mission to bust a jail convict out of a lethal prison and finding a route to his notorious FBI wanted mother.
Cherub agents are orphans who have been given the chance to become a Cherub agent. They live in a campus which is in a undisclosed location and are provided full schooling and training to equip themselves to cope with their dangerous missions and tasks which they undergo.
As to the story, well it is far more action-packed and eventful than the previous two books in the Cherub series. The book begins on a childish note where a fight breaks out between two Cherubs and James Adams who intervenes to prevent a major incident occurring is also punished. The punishment is for all the Cherubs involved to undergo a recruitment mission where they look for kids with talent who could be chosen as Cherubs.
James is gracefully saved from a recruitment mission as he is offered a role in a mission. James's sister Lauren is also chosen for this mission and an experienced Cherub called Dave Moss. The mission is to find the whereabouts of a FBI wanted woman called Jane Oxford who is an international weapons dealer who has stolen numerous weapons from the USA and Britain and sold it on to militant groups. The one possibility is that they may be able to find out where this woman is through her son, Curtis Oxford who is in jail in Arizona Maximum due to murders which he committed. James Adams and Dave Moss are instructed to enter this jail as "convicts" and to befriend Curtis and bust him out, enabling them to follow Curtis straight to his mother.
However things are far from as easy as they seem, and with Dave Moss involved in a serious altercation and sent to hospital, only James remains. In a cell with many thugs and violent people, fulfilling the mission becomes increasingly difficult. As to what happens I shall not reveal but murders, guns, violence and the police feature heavily throughout the rest of the book with many unexpected events leaving the reader on a rollercoaster ride until the end.
Like the previous two books, I found this book very hard to put down and could have quite easily have read it all in one sitting. In my opinion, this book is the best in the series so far as it was full of twists and turns. This view is backed up as it has won two awards; the Cheshire Children's Book Award 2007 and the Portsmouth Children's Book Award 2006.
I would not recommend this book to young teenagers as this book is full of violence, guns, killing and explosions which would not be suitable for the younger reading audience. Muchamore himself states on the back of the book that it is unsuitable for younger readers and after reading the book I would agree with this.
Although the R.R.P of this book is £6.99, it can be picked up far cheaper at Amazon and other retailers. All in all, this book is a great read which will leave you gripped right until the end and is a must read!