If there is one particular type of young adult literature I love, it’s kid spies. I mean what could be better? You throw a bunch of dysfunctional kids into a terrorist situation and they save the world! Currently, two of my favorite series are Alex Rider by Anthony Horowitz and CHERUB by Robert Muchamore. As per recommendation by my fellow fan-girl Hillary, I am going to compare and contrast the two series.
1. One spy or fifty?
Alex Rider is about, well, Alex Rider. He’s one kid forced into the adult world of spies and espionage, and he handles it pretty well considering he’s only fourteen. He makes difficult decisions that end up saving grown-up spies and obviously the world as we know it. CHERUB is about a school of spy children. There is one kid that the series follows, James Adams, but each book includes various other children spies. James’ little sister, his girlfriend and his ring of friends are featured in many of their adventures.
2. On your own vs in a school.
Alex is completely on his own. He goes to a normal school so they think he’s a freak for being absent all the time, and there was that one time he accidentally burned down a whole wing of his school….#oops. But because of that he’s pretty isolated when it comes to friends, which makes me really sad because he’s a sweet little cinnamon roll! He can’t even tell the lady that looks after him what he does because it could endanger her. Then there’s CHERUB. They have a campus devoted to making sure the kid spies are looked after. They have special school programs that work to make sure that the kids catch up on homework when they’ve been out on missions. They also make sure that they are properly trained in things like French and martial arts and grenade launchers. All important life skills.
3. The gadgets
Now in terms of cool stuff. Alex Rider defiantly trumps! I mean Smithers, the guy that invents all the stuff, has an elevator in his desk!!!! How cool is that? He made bubble gum that can open doors and a game-boy that doubles a geiger counter. The guy is basically a genius. CHERUB definitely has its share of gadgetry but it is more things you would expect of military spies. Walkie-talkies, computer chips, hidden microphones ect, more realistic, but certainly not as cool. I mean who wouldn’t want a key chain figurine of Tiger Woods to be a flash bomb! That’s fabulous.
4. The British slang
Maybe this is completely silly, but I love the way that CHERUB is full of the Britishisms. Being an American I don’t really get to experience that in my every day. I mean I’ll swoon over any accent, but usually it’s prim and proper Downtown Abbey or poetical Shakespeare. Rarely do I get to come face to face with everyday language and I love it! Alex Rider doesn’t have it as much because he’s not nearly as crass as the CHERUB kids (I mean they were basically raised in the gutter so who can blame them), but even in Alex Rider, he does point out some of the differences. In book 3, Alex goes to America for…reasons…and they want him to sound like an American kid so he has to say “math” instead of “maths” and for some reason this sort of detail just makes me so happy.
5. The girls
Now this is where Alex Rider could use a little help. And disclaimer: I’m only through book three so this could change in the next eight books, but you know as of now, I could really use a kick-butt 14-year-old girl spy. Then there is CHERUB, which has a never ending list of kick-butt girls. James’ girlfriend, Kerry, is fantastic. Especially because she can literally kick his butt. She is a top student and a great spy and she is one of the best at martial arts in the CHERUB school.
All in all, I basically love spies and kid spies are even better. These two series are great and if you are looking for another series to ruin your life and suck out all your time, well here you go. I will say that because they are young adult books they read really fast. I read the last Alex Rider book in a day and a half. So forget making dinner or doing laundry go and find yourself a kid spy!
Horowitz, A. (2005). Alex Rider. London: Walker.
Muchamore, R. (2010). CHERUB. New York: Simon Pulse.
Photo by Leonardo Veras
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