CHERUB SERIES: The Recruit - Review

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
A Review Of The CHERUB Series Book: The Recruit.

Submitted: May 26, 2015

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Submitted: May 26, 2015



CHERUB SERIES: The Recruit - Review


The Recruit is written by author Robert Muchamore and focuses on the exploits of a spy agency known as CHERUB, that employs 11-18 year olds, to send on dangerous missions around the world. The main lead of this story is a character by the name of James Adams, a twelve year old boy who loses his obese mother and begins to spiral out of control, until he is recruited by a CHERUB agent called Kyle Blueman, who brings him to the agency for evaluation and subsequent training.


The Recruit is a book of many strengths and one of its strongest, is its sense of realism. Despite what many may see as a goofy premise, Muchamore expertly crafts the story so that it never descends into self parody. Characters swear, fight, experience a wide range of emotions: happy, sad, angry. Cliched lines and catchphrases are nowhere to be found, nor are over the top gadgets or sequences. 


The characters feel like they could exist, all have relatable motivations and intriguing backstories. Even the few characters who appear one-note have their place, as you understand why based on the situations they are in, how they may come to act that way. 


One example of this is the memorable: “Mr Large” a training instructor at CHERUB campus who drills new recruits into shape during the gruelling, one hundred day - basic training. Despite a cruel and sadistic attitude, he reflects the stereotype of a real military instructor and leaves a… larger than life impression. I apologise for that terrible humour. I really should be the BIGGER person… (SIGH)


Moving swiftly on, another great strength of this story is the setting. Muchamore grounds this premise through the characters and the environments. James Adams lives in a roughish part of London, CHERUB campus is disguised as a military facility and the mission of the story takes place in an environmentalist camp known as Fort Harmony; which is actually little more than a series of shacks.


Despite its lack of the grand settings of a James Bond film or the action of a Bourne film, its personal connection that it will establish between you and its characters makes the story compelling and interesting. Furthermore, the settings it does have provide an excellent backdrop for great character interactions.


The Recruit is excellently paced, with very little padding or unnecessary elements. It does not lack detail but nor does it drown you in technical details or overwhelm you with espionage language. Instead, Muchamore cleverly presents things from the perspectives of characters who are smart but still learning. 


Characters do not discuss in detail things which they should already be aware of, but when it becomes time for the audience to have relevant information, they can be perplexed, confused or worried, forcing an explanation in a far more natural and flowing way. This is one of many ways in which the story immerses you, in this case, simply by not breaking immersion while the story exposits.


The Recruit is not without its flaws. While the dialogue is sufficient and often humorous, at times, it can come across as unnatural. This is not a frequent problem, however a notable example is at the very start when a bully named Samantha insults our main character with a series of fat and mother jokes. While this depiction of teenagers isn’t entirely inaccurate, it does not feel quite right and; ironically, the dialogue improves when the espionage setting is introduced.


Also, the final conclusion of the story feels slightly underwhelming. Our main lead is hospitalised, chemical weapons are discovered at Fort Harmony and then… these elements are resolved. In quick succession and with some unsatisfying payoffs. The medical threat to our hero turns out to be nothing, the chemical weapons are seized without trouble and the villains who we have spent much of the second half of the story following are either dealt with quickly or left in the air.


While this is not a bad conclusion, it lacks a sense of consequence in places and pales in comparison to finales of other books in the series. Though, the actual ending itself is good and a great pay-off to an emotional and humorous setup from earlier chapters.


Overall, The Recruit is a great start to the series, introducing great characters, concepts and ideas. Excellently paced, well written with a natural sense of progression and a genuine sense of realism, it starts what is among the best YA series. Only its finale and a few small elements hold it back. However, these flaws are not nearly enough to prevent me from recommending it nor from saying it will hook you start to end.


The Recruit has RECRUITED me as a supporter. 





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