CHERUB is an espionage/military organisation whose operatives are between the ages of ten and seventeen. All are trained professionals with one essential advantage: adults never suspect that children are spying on them. For official purposes, these children do not exist.
It is both surprising and disappointing that this series has garnered such a wide fan base and achieved success on the bestseller lists worldwide. The books are written in a style that is neither engaging nor inspirational. They are narratives that tell all and show little. While an improvement in style over the Alex Rider books, I would actually recommend Alex Rider over CHERUB. While Alex Rider may be only acceptable in terms of style, originality and ideas, the CHERUB series sinks even lower. The first book, at least, is action-packed and clean. However as the series progresses the characters deteriorate with drug-use, sex, lesbianism and even infidelity becoming more common among the teenage characters. The issues they face are equally problematic and include abuse in many of its forms. Violence is often justified as well. The graphic descriptions of some scenes have even led to some books being censored before publishing.
I would recommend The Ranger’s Apprentice series (books 1-7) and, reluctantly, the Alex Rider series as alternatives. A word of caution is necessary however; CHERUB is one of a selection of adolescent action novels that, while they may begin acceptably, deteriorate as the plot develops and flounder when tackling ethical issues. (The Maximum Ride series is a prime example of this.) It seems that a selection of authors, some of whom have achieved a level of commercial success in the realm of adult fiction, are attempting to appeal to the emotions and appetites of a younger audience to the detriment of the latter.
Maryana Garcia is the eldest of four sisters. A student at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, she plans to major in History and is currently an employee of the Mount Albert Community Library.