Newest Review: ... tutor to the son of black market weapons dealer. Denis Obidin controls legitimate factories in the Russian aerospace industry, but as c... more
High octane espionage thriller for teens.
The Fall - Robert Muchamore
Member Name: broxi3781
The Fall - Robert Muchamore
Advantages: Very well written story - full of surprises.
Disadvantages: Mature themes - not suitable for very young readers.
This book will be among the most difficult books I have ever attempted to review. The reason for this is that while most of Muchamore's books are pretty straight forward this one most certainly is not. The CHERUB agents are sent in to gather evidence on a specific target, so there is never an element of "who done it" to the stories. We have a pretty good idea what the target is up to - it's just a matter of gathering enough evidence to bring them down. That isn't the case in this book. There are all sorts of twists and turns, betrayals and double crossing, and you won't really be sure whom can James can trust, and who he can't. There is a fine line between describing a plot and giving away spoilers. Given a choice - I'd rather give too little detail then too much as I absolutely hate it when someone spoils a good story.
The CHERUB books are all billed as teenage spy books, but I'm not quite sure if all of the titles live up to that description. In most cases I find the stories have more in common with Criminal Minds than James Bond, and I often feel the agents are working in a role more like undercover police than traditional spies. That isn't the case in this book. At least not in one of the two seperate and distinct story lines in this book. This book is very much a teenage spy thriller, not unlike Young James Bond or Alex Rider, but it does not have the high tech gadgets. The agents rely on their wits rather than technological innovation.
The story begins with James Adams in Russia. He is working with two MI- 5 agents, posing as their nephew, and acting as an English tutor to the son of black market weapons dealer. Denis Obidin controls legitimate factories in the Russian aerospace industry, but as contracts have dried up he also turned to the black market as well offering everything from rocket fuel to missiles capable of sinking an aircraft carrier if the price is right. Conveniently, his brother is head of police and they have the whole town well wrapped up. James role as a tutor to the man's child allows rare access into the man's home. There is so much more to the story than this, but I am stopping here. Any detail I give after this point could be a potential spoiler.
I did mention there are two stories in this book - one is James' adventure and the other is his sister's story. They don't really cross over in anyway, except the fact that of course that the two main characters are siblings. Lauren's mission should be very low risk. She is sent to an English children's home to befriend Anna, a Russian girl who has been rescued from a sinking ship involved in human trafficking. It is believed that Lauren's ability to speak Russian will help her to befriend the girl - who has very little English and can not communicate with the other children and refuses to communicate with the authorities. Again to little detail is better than too much, but this book will draw attention to the issue of human trafficking. As these young girls are forced into the position of sex workers, some mention of this is to be expected, and of violent sexual situations. There are no graphic descriptions, nor are they needed, but the subject matter alone earns this book it's stamp "Not suitable for younger readers". These books are intended for teenagers, and they do have a large adult following as well. I would not be comfortable recommending this book for under 12's.
In addition to the storyline involving the illegal sex trade and modern slavery, this book will have limited strong language, fairly extreme violence, and other mild sexual situations. I can not see any problem at all with this as long as the child reading it is old enough to be part of the target audience. James will turn 15 in this book - and as such his interest in girls is increasing. I have to say I do like a reply he gets from a girl he is dating "My body - My Rules" , but being a 15 year old boy he does try it on. All things considered, this is pretty mild, but still a bit too much for me to allow my 7 year old to read this, even if it did not have the human trafficking theme. If looking for books in this genre for younger children, I would try Alex Rider or Young James Bond.
As usual for this series, there is plenty of action and a very fast paced story. Mixed in with all the action and adventure though, there is always a fair amount on relationships and more ordinary teenage woes, and I think Muchamore usually does a good job of addressing common teenage concerns in a very positive manner. In this case, I'm not so sure, and I did feel like he dropped the ball in regard to pressure in teenage relationships for girls to go a bit further than they wish. This only my opinion, and the issue is mild - you might not even take it that way at all - but I can't give more detail without risking a spoiler. While I might have knocked him back a star on this, I have not, primarily because I found his other relationship scenarios extremely positive, especially ideas of looking a bit deeper and not taking people for granted. I was also delighted to see Dana again play a reasonable role in this and her strength of character really shines through in this book. And at any rate - I just loved all the twists and turns of the story - so there was no chance me of giving this less than the full five stars.
I'm sorry if I have failed to give quite enough detail on some aspects of this book, but this really is one you should read blind. The more you know about it, the less you can into the twists and turns. I have also not really gone into detail on the series as a whole, or so much on the main characters, as I have given much more detail in my earlier reviews on this series, and I strongly feel that while a newcomer to the series might enjoy the action and surprises, this is really not a book to be read on it's own. There is just so much going on between different characters and without a background to their motives and personalities I do think a lot would be lost.
Finally - although this book is intended for teens it does raise issues relevant to adults as well. In particular it draws attention to a very serious and very real problem in this country - forced sex workers. I don't honestly know what we can do as individuals, but this something I just do not feel that we, as a nation do enough to prevent. Of course I don't make the laws or have any political power, but this something that really needs change. And perhaps any teenager ( or even adult) reading this who is tempted to ever visit a working woman will give a bit more thought to the fact that this is not a victimless crime.
Summary: Unique among Muchamore's books as you never know who can be trusted.
More reviews in the field of Junior Book
- The Hunger Games: A future we never want to reach, but definitely want to read.
- A horse as parents!?!?
- It's no Harry Potter but it's still a fun read
- "Extensional self-defense" or terrorism?
- One of the cutest dragons ever.
- You will be reading this one again and again.
- Meg Cabot pulls off a dark story of Mythology and Romance.
- Just right when it is too wet to go out doors to hunt bugs.