Robert Muchamore was born in London in 1972 and used to work as a private investigator. CHERUB is his first series and is published in more than twenty countries. For more on the series, check out CherubCampus.com/USA.
Who would suspect a kid of being a highly trained international spy? This action-packed comic, adapted by Ian Edginton (Scarlett Traces; Sterling's Illustrated Classics) from the popular YA novels by Muchamore, follows 11-year-old James Adams's transformation from an orphan with anger management issues to a promising new recruit in the British Secret Service's top secret child espionage program, CHERUB. James struggles with inner demons and physical obstacles but eventually emerges victorious, putting a handful of dangerous ecoterrorists behinds bars and earning a coveted blue CHERUB shirt. Verdict The premise of training children as spies who carry out high-stakes missions is interesting but cliched. Eye-rolling dialog and clunky artwork make it hard to root for any of the characters in this volume. YA readers who enjoy Muchamore's "CHERUB" novels will probably be interested in reading the graphic novel version. For an overall better take on the "being a teenager is hard, especially when dark forces want to kill you" theme, readers may enjoy the "Morning Glories" titles by Nick Spencer or Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir's Amazing Agent Jennifer.-Ingrid Bohnenkamp, Library Ctr., Springfield, MO (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr 7-10-James has had a rough go of it lately. When a girl insults his overweight mom at school, he hits her and gets in a lot of trouble. He always seems to be in trouble. So when his mom passes away, and his waste of a stepfather separates him from his sister, James is beside himself. What's he to do? Then he wakes up one morning in the lush English countryside, only to discover that he's been enrolled in a covert finishing school for future British Intelligence officers. Recruited because of his geniuslike aptitude for math, among other things, he must prove himself when he reveals that he can't swim (a requirement of the program). Aggs's art is strong, and the use of bold color and sharp lines help drive much of the action and fighting James goes through before he gets initiated. Some elements are a little silly, such as the school's name being CHERUB (even the headmaster doesn't know what it stands for), but despite the fantastic situation of having a 12-year-old spy, it's all handled with a surprisingly levelheaded and grounded perspective.-Ryan P. Donovan, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The first book in Muchamore's CHERUB series, a bestselling line in the U.K. since 2004, offers an enjoyable mix of action and teen drama, while avoiding some of the wackiness that can plague teen spy novels. When 11-year-old James is orphaned after his petty criminal mother dies, he comes to the attention of CHERUB, a spy agency that only uses minors as agents, because kids make such unlikely suspects. Much of the novel is standard spy training stuff, including a grueling boot camp (complete with a relentlessly tough and sadistic instructor), bonding sequences with his fellow recruits, and a first mission that goes awry. In this case, that mission involves infiltrating a camp of ex-hippies who are planning to attack oil company executives. If the plot is predictable, Muchamore presents both the spies and the dangers they face realistically, avoiding over-the-top gadgets sand slapstick. Well-fleshed out minor characters-including James's training partner/crush, as well as his sister-help elevate the story above the standard fare. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.