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A pleasant surprise.
The Recruit: Bk. 1 - Robert Muchamore
Member Name: broxi3781
The Recruit: Bk. 1 - Robert Muchamore
Date: 23/06/12, updated on 23/06/12 (49 review reads)
Advantages: Exceptionally well written fiction.
Disadvantages: The whole idea of a secret training camp for so many children is too far fetched.
The whole idea behind the modern Cherub series is terribly far fetched. The government collects stray children whom the agents in charge feel have aptitude and trains them to take part in secret missions across the globe. What makes it really hard to swallow is that hundreds and hundreds of children have been trained at a huge school like base, with swimming pools, sports facilities, dorms for 100's of children, classrooms, firing ranges, etc.... The logistics of such a big operation would be mind boggling and the chances of keeping something like this completely under wraps would be virtually impossible. Keep in mind, most of these children grow up, leave the organisation and go on to live relatively normal lives, never speaking of the years they spent growing up with cherub.
So - as I found the idea completely far fetched, and didn't fancy reading this - you may be wondering why I am reviewing it. Amazon recommended this, but the price is what made the decision for me. Amazon had this on offer at only 74 pence, with free postage. I was very short on cash, having spent all of my dooyoo vouchers on birthday presents and books for the boys, and desperate for something to read. I also felt that although I felt my son was too young for the Henderson's Boys series, these are at least books which add to out home library and my sons will be able to read eventually, so with such a low price - I took the plunge. I am clearly not in the target audience for this book. This series is intended for teenage children, and while I do think many girls would enjoy it as well, the target audience is obviously teenage boys. I wasn't expecting a lot from this book, hopefully just something to combat my insomnia. Once this arrived, it laid about for a few days, until I had absolutely nothing else to read, a terrible case of insomnia, and even my Nintendo DS battery was dead. I opened the book up and tentatively started to read.
The book starts off with 12 year old James Choke being tormented by his school mates - a very typical childhood scene. James' life doesn't sound too different from that of many young boys growing up on a typical council estate. He doesn't know his father, his Mother and stepfather drink too much, and the stepfather is a complete loser. He does have a younger sister, who he obviously cares for a great deal, and he does love his Mother - but he is also ashamed of her - again common feelings for many teens or preteens. As tough as life is for James though, things soon take a definite turn for the worse when James finds his mother dead. James is separated from his sister and placed in care. With no other family, and a shortage of foster homes, it appears James will spend the rest of his childhood in institutions. As one might expect he ends up in a bit trouble, and it begins to look as he may end up spending his childhood behind bars if he doesn't make some changes soon. This is when Cherub steps in.
The Sunday Express had this to say about The Recruit "Punchy, exciting, glamorous and, what's more, you'll completely wish it was true". The world James wakes up in when he arrives at Cherub is one that every young boy will wish really existed. Muchamore seems to have captured the teenage psyche perfectly and I could so easily picture many of the boys from our youth groups in such a setting. Cherub does have danger - and a training programme to rival the SAS, but it is also a boy's fantasy come true. Guns, sports, assault courses - everything a bot could want. The first mission is a real dream for a preteen boy as well. They need to make a break in look like vandalism so the the kids job is basically to wreck a place - complete and wanton destruction - a boys dream come true.
Things do get more serious though, and James must learn the value of trust and friendship as well. And once he has truly learned to appreciate friendship - he is sent on a mission where he must use friendship as weapon against other teens, to get to close to a homegrown terrorist group which is planning a serious act of domestic terrorism. James courage and strength will be put to the test, but he will find life is not as simple as he once thought either. He will find himself feeling sympathy for the " bad guys" and in a situation where he must chose the lesser of two evils - and then live with the results.
Once I started this book, I did honestly enjoy it - quite a lot in fact. The initial premise may be a bit far fetched - but once you get past that, this is a well written story with very exceptionally life like and well developed characters. It combines action and adventure with a bit of humour and common teenage angst. As an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed this. As a child or teenager - I would have absolutely loved it. This book does not have any graphic sex or really over the top violence, and I did consider sharing this with my son, age 7. While I do think he would enjoy it, right now he does prefer his superhero books and I decided to wait until he is a bit older for this book for personal reasons. I do think the part of the mother being unwell, dying and leaving the children with no one to care for them might upset my son. I also feel that he would miss a lot in this book as he has not experienced the same preteen issues and feel this book would be good now, but so much better if he waits a bit to read it. Finally, while I'd be happy enough with him reading book one, having read a few other reviews, I don't think I would want him to read the whole series yet.
Although technically an spy book - I would not class this a thriller. I think further issues may get a bit more high adrenaline, but I would class this more as a coming of age book. If you can enjoy a good book that will take you back to your school days, and what it is like to be a teenager, pick this up. I have come to the conclusion that I do not have a specific genre in books. What I like is a book which is truly well written, and I have to admit, Muchamore is a genius with words. But where this book really shines is in creating a world that young readers are going to want to visit again and again. I honestly can not see many boys not wanting to read, once they have discovered books like this. I think this should be in every school and local library. If you have boys age 10-16, or girls who prefer a bit of action and adventure to vampires romance - then this book should be on your bookshelf as well.
As to Amazon selling this book at such a low price - I can't help but wonder if it is clever marketing ploy. I think most people who read this will want more books in the series. I've already ordered book 2.
Summary: Brilliant story once you get past a few improbabilities.
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