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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Action-Packed, Pre-Teen Wish-Fulfilment

The Recruit  - Robert Muchamore

Robert Muchamore's cherub books have sold in vast numbers and I'm told that a film is in the offing. So I had to read one to see how he does it. The answer is plot, plot and more plot. Setting and characterisation are kept to a minimum. Instead the book explodes off the first page into a firework display of action-packed, pre-teen wish-fulfilment.

The Recruit is the first in the series. It's the story of James, an eleven year old boy recruited into Cherub, a branch of the British Secret Service that utilises child agents. James goes through an intensely macho basic training and comes out able to out-fight boys twice his age, speaking a foreign language, and fully conversant with bomb-making and other hi-tech terrorist gimmickry.

Then he is given his first mission - to infiltrate a hippy commune where it's believed eco-terrorists are hatching a plot to blow up a forthcoming conference of foreign ministers and oil executives. Despite a brush with anthrax, James completes his first mission with glowing colours and earns the coveted navy blue t-shirt only awarded to an outstanding agent.

I found it a very engaging read at first but the lack of texture and depth meant it soon lost its grip on me . But then I'm not the target audience. It's aimed at pre-teen boys who would absolutely love it.