Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Maximum Security (Cherub)

Maximum Security (Cherub)

Robert Muchamore
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2011   ISBN: 978-1416999423

Eighteen months ago James Adams was an angry and disillusioned orphan who was surely going to get into big trouble in the not too distant future. Now he is a thirteen-year-old  CHERUB secret agent who has survived one hundred days of basic training and who has successfully completed two missions.

One day James and some of his fellow agents go to a bowling alley to have some fun, where they encounter some teenagers, and then get into a fight with said teenagers. Back at CHERUB headquarters they are told that their punishment for behaving in such an irresponsible fashion is that they will be sent to children’s homes to recruit new students.

James is very relieved when he is presented with a mission that his bosses think he would be perfect for. For years the FBI has been trying to capture an in international arms dealer called Jane Oxford. Though they have spent a great deal of time and money trying to find her, the woman is so good at staying hidden that they don’t even have a current photograph of her. Purely by chance the FBI finds out that an inmate in a maximum security prison in Arizona is Jane’s son. Fourteen-year-old Curtis is in prison for killing three people. The authorities know that Jane Oxford is keeping an eye on her son and that he has protectors in the prison. What they want James to do is to pose as a prisoner, make friends with Curtis, and then break out of the prison taking Curtis with him. The hope is that Curtis will lead the FBI to Jane.

Complete with an elaborate cover, James and Dave, another CHERUB agent, are taken to Arizona Max. They know that what they are doing is dangerous, but when they are taken to their dormitory they quickly realize how bad the situation is. In their dorm there is a war going on between a group of skinheads and a group of Mexicans. After Dave, James’ bodyguard, is injured, James finds himself alone and he is lucky enough to be taken in by the skinheads, who are also taking care of Jane Oxford’s son. James is surprised to find out that Curtis is a quiet boy who more than anything wants to be left alone so that he can draw in peace. The boy’s uncertain lifestyle, the one forced on him by his mother, has caused him to become nervy, unpredictable, and very unhappy, and James finds himself feeling sorry for the boy.

Without Dave to watch over him, James knows that he has to befriend Curtis and get out of the prison as fast as he can before he is hurt by the inmates or before they force him to hurt someone else.

This third CHERUB title will take readers on an adventure that is often quite terrifying. One never quite knows what is going to happen next, and just when you think James is safe, something else happens that makes it necessary for him to change his plans.