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The Recruit: CHERUB, Book 1

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

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 10 reviews

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
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
Adult Written byLucyinLA June 26, 2018

Beware of the content of this series!

My 12-yr old son started reading this series and couldn’t put the boooks down. He told me there were some inappropriate parts and vulgar language. I looked thro... 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
Kid, 9 years old June 19, 2016

Good Book

It had less violence then I expected but more sex,drugs,language.

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

Themes & Topics

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