Wednesday, August 28, 2013

 Title:    The Recruit [Cherub, book 1]
Author:  Robert Muchamore
Rating:  ★★★

After a few stressful weeks, I was ready to find some relief in a piece of fantasy a la Percy Jackson or Harry Potter style. But since I don't have a book along those lines at the moment, and Melissa de la Cruz's The Au Pairs wasn't working for me, I decided to give The Recruit a chance. It has been sitting on my TBR pile for several months (or maybe a year) and I have forgotten about it! Now that I've read it, however, the idea of such a camp, shall we say, has been rolling around my brain.

CHERUB spies, 17 and under, hack into computers, bug houses, download crucial documents, and Do Not Exist. James, recently orphaned, is their newest recruit, and brilliant in math. After 100 days grueling training, his mission begins.

I haven't been able to find and read any stellar books lately - the kind of books where the first page, or even the first line, has already got me hooked. The Recruit, sadly, is no exception. I wasn't gripped by emotion or excitement as I went through the first few chapters. I just kept reading as I wanted to relax. The story took quite some time to get to the exciting part, and when it did, I was caught up in the excitement I almost didn't want to sleep. I just forced myself to put down my tablet because I've been sick for a week and I needed to rest.

In The Recruit, the protagonist so far is James Choke, who becomes James Adam when he joins Cherub. He isn't really a bad kid - more of frustrated with a lot of pent-up anger that he takes out through fighting. There's really not much remarkable about him except his street smarts, and high capability with numbers. He also cares a lot for his half-sister, Lauren Onions. He is not one of those characters who is so awesome you can't help but love him, but I like him well enough. It was great to see him be better, because he wasn't really a bad kid.

The other kids are also cool, and I was so envious because they are so good at a lot of things I don't know about! They are trained for survival, they know how to fire a gun, how to dismantle a gun, and they know karate. It sounds so cool to learn all those things, and you know you'll learn because you have to. Plus, you get all these life skills becoming second nature to you when you get out. You'll also have all the skills and qualifications to make it to the top schools and you learn new languages. Gosh, I almost want to be one of them, except they have are all orphans, and that is not something I want to be.

I also think having such a school is brilliant especially for lost kids who have all this negative pent-up energy inside them and then they'll be given an outlet to channel all that rage and frustration into something positive. They are also trained to become responsible at such a young age. Imagine if instead of being sent to juvie, the young troublemakers in the Philippines (and in other countries) are just disciplined appropriately and then they turn around to becoming outstanding citizens? That would be awesome, and I think things would improve.

But anyway, the point of the story is that these kids become spies. Because again, who does suspect kids to be these capable, right? So I like the whole idea of this plot. Of course the basic plot - a government funded agency to create kid spies - isn't really unique. But what I liked about The Recruit is that these kids are given free reign to be KIDS. They aren't trained to be adults. In their missions, they just have to act their age - be vandals, be nosy, act normal, and even date. Afterwards, they "graduate" and are able to leave normal lives (with one even becoming a prime minister and one was a rock star). These kids are able to have normal lives of their own choosing. That's what I liked most of all - that when they're done being molded into very capable citizens, they can walk away and do their own thing. You are not under threat of having to live such a secret life from people who would probably get revenge on you like in some other YA espionage books. I really liked that about Cherub.

According to Robert Muchamore's Goodreads profile, he created this for his nephews who complained they don't have anything decent to read. This is suitable for kids, I think; it was a bit inspiring to want to be better than I am today, and I'm already an adult! If you're a fan of adult, espionage, and action, you won't go wrong with The Recruit.

Have a safe day,