Book Review: CHERUB, The Recruit
Sometimes the best man for a spy job is a kid
Think back to when you were a little kid. For some of you this will be an easier task than for others. Remember how it felt. Did you ever feel like you were ignored? That no one ever paid attention to you? Most of us have felt like that at some stage. Now what if you could harness this “power” for good? Could a kid be the ultimate spy, able to slip around unnoticed and help take down the bad guys?
That’s the idea behind the CHERUB series of books by Robert Muchamore. Sometimes the best spy for the job is an 11 year old.
The CHERUB organisation works with British Intelligence to protect the UK from threats such as terrorists and drug traffickers. What’s unique about the spies CHERUB uses is that they are all young people between the ages of 10 and 17. These young spies travel the world saving the day. But it’s not like a James Bond movie with helicopters and explosions. Their job is to get around unnoticed. To do things such as making friends with the kids of the local drug dealer so they can get inside his house and steal his address book. The jobs they do are designed to be quiet and stealthy. But if trouble does come their way, they’re trained to take the bad guys down hard.
The first book of the series, The Recruit, introduces us to James, an 11 year old boy. He’s a trouble maker at school and has the local bullies ready to beat him to a pulp. At home, he and his younger sister struggle with their drunkard mother who is a thief and his no good step-father. Life isn’t that great for James. And when his mother dies and he ends up in an orphanage, it would appear that life is as bad as it gets.
But then comes along CHERUB. James is recruited into the organisation and is trained as spy. What follows in the book is the blood, sweat and tears that are shed as James and his fellow recruits are trained to be spies. It’s a great, thrilling read.
I love these books. And I intend to keep reading through the series. But there are some problems that you should be aware of. These books aren’t for younger kids. The situations that these spies find themselves in can get grim and gritty. It gets a bit too real for a younger reader. Of greater concern is the use of language, alcohol and sexuality. There are words used in these books that I would consider to be heavy swear words and inappropriate for kids. The author puts James and the other kids in situations where they get drunk and get changed in front of the opposite sex with no comment about whether this is good or bad. In fact, by not commenting, the author is implying that these things are perfectly normal. A younger reader would be exposed to scenes and concepts that they are too young to process and evaluate properly. For that reason I would recommend these books for older teens and older to read.
The central premise of CHERUB is that no one notices kids. No one pays attention to them. But the CHERUB organisation values them and recognises that they are special. So does Jesus. Back in the day, children were seen as second class citizens. Some kids wanted to meet Jesus and spend time with him, but the disciples told them to get lost. Jesus said this was not on. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)
Jesus values kids. Kids can be members of God’s family. Kids can be fully Christian. They don’t have to wait until they grow up. If a child or young person accepts Jesus as the king of their life, then they are part of the kingdom of heaven. If you’re reading this, and you’re a kid or young person, know this: you are loved by God. You may not be an international spy, you may feel like you are unappreciated and unnoticed, but God knows who you are and wants you to be in his kingdom. James was recruited into CHERUB. No matter what your age, God is offering you a place in his kingdom. He wants to recruit you. Will you accept?