The Recruit is the first novel in the CHERUB series, written by Robert Muchamore. It introduces most of the main characters, such as James Adams (Formerly James Choke), Lauren Adams (Formerly Lauren Onions), Kyle Blueman and Kerry Chang.
This book is about James Adams, how he joined CHERUB and a mission against HelpEarth. His mother is an obese woman who is the leader of an illegal London-based shoplifting ring.
James is taken into care after his step-dad (Ron Onions) takes custody of Lauren. At his care home, Nebraska House, James and becomes "friends" with Robert Vaughn, an older boy who leads a gang of truants. However, James offends a member of the gang by joking about his family and the gang get revenge by getting him arrested for shoplifting.
The next day, James wakes in a mysterious building, where he is given a military-style uniform with a shirt bearing the logo "CHERUB". He meets Doctor Terrence "Mac" McAfferty, the chairman of CHERUB, who offers James a place at CHERUB in return for agreeing to become an agent for British intelligence, the rationale being that no one would suspect an adult of spying on them. In order to enter, James sits for a test: a sparring bout with CHERUB agent Bruce Borris (who easily overpowers James despite his smaller size), an intelligence test, killing a chicken, an obstacle course twenty metres off the ground and retrieving a brick from a pool, which James refuses to do as he cannot swim. James worries that he has not done enough to pass the test, but Mac informs him that his actions during the test have demonstrated the intelligence and strength of character necessary to become a CHERUB agent and offers him a place at CHERUB campus.
James is sent back to Nebraska House to consider joining CHERUB. There, the home's parent counsellor, Jennifer Mitchum, and James' roommate 'Kyle Blueman' reveal that they both work for CHERUB and arranged for James to join. James moves to CHERUB campus and soon makes friends with several other cherubs, including Kyle, Bruce, twins Callum and Connor Reilly, and older agent Amy Collins, who helps James learn to swim. James then enters basic training, where he is partnered with an Asian girl, Kerry Chang. After 100 days of intensive physical training and learning espionage and combat skills under the tutelage of sadistic training instructor Norman Large, James, Kerry and the other trainees pass basic training and are awarded their grey shirt, qualifying them to go on missions. James returns to CHERUB to find that Lauren has also been recruited, after Ron was imprisoned for smuggling, drug possession and theft.
James begins to worry after all his friends begin receiving missions while he remains on campus, but after two months Amy reveals that she suspended his mission clearance so that she could arrange for him to poos as her brother on a mission. It is feared that eco-terrorist organisation Help Earth plan to attack an oil conference being held in the Welsh village of Craddogh. CHERUB have been asked to help with security, and so they send James and Amy undercover to a nearby hippy community, Fort Harmony, posing as the nephew and niece of hippy Cathy Dunn. James soon befriends Brian "Bungle" Evans, an American environmentalist, and adolescents Clarks and Sebastian Dunn, cousins of suspected Help Earth members Fire and World Dunn. He also strikes up a relationship with Craddogh girl Joanna Ribble.
CHERUB mission controller Ewart Asker discovers that Bungle was previously a roommate of an ecoterrorist and lectured Fire and World in microbiology at university. James breaks into Fire and World's workshop and discovers that the two are using radio-controlled cars to infiltrate the building where the conference is being held. James' initial suspicion is that the two are smuggling bomb components into the building, but Ewart realises that the two are planning an anthrax attack and that James has been exposed to the bacterium. James is rushed to a military hospital and treated, only for it to be discovered that he was only infected by an attenuated strain that Bungle planned to use to inoculate the innocent staff at the conference centre. While he is hospitalised, anti-terrorist police storm Fort Harmony and arrest Fire and World, although Bungle escapes. James returns to Fort Harmony so as not to raise suspicion, but police soon arrive to evict the residents of Fort Harmony. James, Amy and Ewart return to CHERUB campus. James feels guilty about his role in the destruction of Fort Harmony and feels sad that he will never see Joanna again.
At CHERUB, Mac explains that MI5 are following Bungle so that he can lead them to other Help Earth members. He awards James the Navy shirt as a reward for his performance on the mission. Kerry and Bruce disbelieve James when he claims to have earned the Navy shirt, until Amy comes in and congratulates him for his excellent effort on finishing the job.