The Recruit: CHERUB, Book 1

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Recruit: CHERUB, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Teen spy series gets off to rousing start.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 27 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The recruitment of underage orphans as spies-in-training is not at all realistic, but the concept works well enough for the purposes of this action-packed novel. For all its excesses, The Recruit emphasizes discipline and hard work.

Positive Messages

Through discipline and perseverance, people can achieve their goals, even outlandish ones. People aren't always who they seem to be.

Positive Role Models & Representations

At the beginning of the book, James is undisciplined, lazy, and not in control of his anger. By the end of The Recruit, he learns to control his temper, maintain a strict physical regimen, and work as part of a team.


The Recruit has scenes of violence, but most are part of martial-arts training. James pushes a girl against a wall and injures her face on a nail. Later, her brother punches him in the stomach. Two boys torture and kill a pigeon.


James has an unrequited crush on his swimming trainer. Later, he shares a passionate kiss with a classmate.


Swearing and crude language are part of the story. Bullies call James a "retard" and a "faggot." "S--t," "pissing," "pissed," and "arsehole" are used a few times each.


Various manufacturers of cell phones and video game equipment brands (Nokia, PlayStation) are mentioned in passing.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

James gets drunk and experiences a hangover. Some bullies force him into stealing alcohol from a liquor store. Teens smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know The Recruit: CHERUB, Book 1 is the first volume in a series of thrillers about children trained to be international spies. Swearing and crude language are part of the story. Bullies call James a "retard" and a "faggot." Other potentially objectionable words, such as "s--t" and "arsehole," are employed a few times each. There are violent scenes, but most involve martial-arts training. James gets drunk and experiences a hangover. Some bullies force him into stealing alcohol from a liquor store. Teens smoke cigarettes.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymrslidey June 15, 2020

Amazingly addicting

I'd always been into reading as a child, but I was never addicted to a series of books like these, nor have I since been. I'm not exaggerating- I ofte... Continue reading
Parent of a 6-year-old Written byHollie A. June 7, 2017

Finally! A series he loves!

Great book. Quick read. I read it ahead of my 11 year old because the bulk of the book is unsupervised co-ed time together and admittedly I was worried that... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byiliketoread2 October 20, 2019

Books Get Progressively More Inappropriate as the Series Goes On.

The first book is terrific and isn't that inappropriate, occasional cursing is the worst that it gets. Later on in the series it get pretty sexual and only... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byjoshg246 September 3, 2016

A Great Read

I think that this book is great, and perfect for 13+ year old. It is everything most people have ever wanted. The books get better as you go through the series... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE RECRUIT, James Choke's mother runs a crime ring out of their flat. When she dies suddenly, Jack and his sister Lauren are separated by the authorities. She goes to live with her good-for-nothing father, while James is sent off to a boarding school that's actually a training facility for CHERUB, a secret organization that employs teens for spy work. James undergoes a grueling regimen, but the real challenge comes when he's sent undercover on his first mission.

Is it any good?

Author Richard Muchamore keeps the pace brisk, the dialogue punchy, and the action heightened in this thrilling tale of teen spies in training. This volume is an origin story, so it takes a while to prepare James for his first mission, but the payoff is worth the long setup. Lots of kids daydream about what it might be like to be an international super spy, and this novel provides plenty of exciting answers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether children could actually be employed to complete spy missions. What sorts of laws might prevent such a setup?

  • Why are spy stories so popular? What others have you read?

  • What might it feel like to be an orphan? How does society treat teens without parents?

Book details

  • Author: Robert Muchamore
  • Genre: Mystery
  • Topics: Adventures
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publication date: August 30, 2005
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
  • Number of pages: 342
  • Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: August 28, 2018

Our editors recommend

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