International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Review
Sleepwalker by Robert Muchamore
Publisher: Hodder Childrens Books (2008)
CHERUB agents can unearth the truth. Theyre trained professionals
with one essential advantage: adults never suspect that children
are spying on them. This was the part of the blurb on the back cover
that made me stop and wonder; ridiculous premise or a genius idea
by the book's author Robert Muchamore. Either way I was intrigued
enough to read on and take a look into the world of CHERUB, a branch
of British Intelligence whose agents are children between ten and
seventeen years old.
A plane has crashed
over the Atlantic Ocean, just two days shy of the anniversary of the
nine-eleven disaster, killing all the passengers and crew on board.
The crash inspectors suspect terrorism, but are unable to rule anything
in or out. There isnt much to go on until Mac, a retired CHERUB
director who has lost family in the airline disaster, believes he has
stumbled on to a lead. Fahim, an eleven year old boy, has called a police
hotline suspecting his father of involvement. Officials put it down
to being a prank, but Mac thinks there is something there.
Enter CHERUB agents and siblings, James and Lauren Adams, two of the
highest ranked and most respected agents on the CHERUB campus. Lauren
is sent on a mission to discover all she can from Fahim about his fathers
possible involvement and Fahim, worried about his mothers recent
disappearance under suspicious circumstances, is more than happy to
help, but progress is slow and there are no breaks in the case from
anywhere else. Is Lauren wasting her time? Meanwhile, James is having
problems of his own, having been placed on a ridiculous, as he sees
it, work experience placement at a Deluxe Chicken fast food restaurant
with his somewhat less than friendly ex, Kerry. It doesnt take
long for James to find himself in trouble when he gets involved with
a domestic violence situation between new friend, Gemma, and her thuggish
Muchamore has written a well constructed story that deals with teenage
angst, sex and alcohol in a realistic way that can be easily related
to by both adolescent boys and girls alike, as well as addressing more
adult themes such as racism, terrorism and domestic violence. The story
moves along at a rapid pace and has action and excitement throughout
with an adrenaline fuelled climax. The Sleepwalker is the ninth
book in the CHERUB series and I found myself wishing I was ten years
younger so that I might enjoy them all as a twelve year old when, in
my mind at least, anything was possible. Even now in my twenties, I
read the book thinking to myself damn, I wish this was true.
For all the praise I have given though I cant say the novel is
without its flaws. There were moments I felt that I couldnt sink
my teeth into enough of the details or, that more should have happened
at certain points in the text. I am still not sure whether I liked James
enough and, although the character is accurate of many fifteen year
olds (cocky and arrogant), I didnt really ever feel like he did
anything to warrant the respect his character was given in the story.
Also the fight scenes ran a bit too much like a choreographed movie
scene, with roundhouse kicks being thrown all over the place. All in
all, The Sleepwalker is a well crafted and well thought out novel
with an excellent insight into the lifestyles of its intended audience.
I would definitely recommend this to all young teenagers who enjoy a
© N Prescott October 2009
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