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Book Review

The Dealer by Robert Muchamore has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the second book in the “CHERUB” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

James Adams, who recently turned 13, is a member of a British spy organization called CHERUB. CHERUB is made up of clever, highly trained children under 17 years old, who can gain information in places and situations adults cannot. Even most of the British government doesn’t know CHERUB exists.

CHERUB recruited James and his younger sister, Lauren, after their mother died. Mum was a morbidly obese women who ran a shoplifting ring from her home. She died after repeatedly mixing alcohol and pain medication.

CHERUB operatives felt the kids were smart and had the potential to rise above their unfortunate beginnings. In The Recruit, James completed basic training and his first mission. In this second book, he and his teammates are sent to a town outside of London to befriend the children of drug kingpin Keith Moore.

Under the supervision of their “parents,” (married adult agents Ewart and Zara), James and his teammates Nicole, Kerry and Kyle begin a new life with fake identities. They attend school with Moore’s children, and each is assigned to become friends with one of the Moore kids.

James gets to know Junior and begins boxing with him at the local youth club. Moore won’t allow Junior to deal drugs, but Junior’s friends get James a job as a drug runner. James spends time at Junior’s house, catches the attention of his sister, April, and even impresses Moore as a solid friend for Junior. James and his CHERUB teammates plant surveillance devices, get information from other kids and discover the inner workings of Moore’s operation.

Nicole starts dating Junior and begins using cocaine with him. She is permanently dismissed from CHERUB when she’s caught. Kyle also starts using cannabis, but he receives a lesser punishment because the drug is not as dangerous in CHERUB’s eyes. CHERUB leaders make both kids leave the mission immediately.

During this time, Lauren is undergoing her basic training back at headquarters. She lashes out at a superior and is dismissed from training. James talks to the CHERUB leader, Mac, to help Lauren get a second chance at training and ensure she’s not expelled from the program.

Moore invites James to spend time at their Miami beach house with him and Junior. James enjoys the trip overseas and likes visiting theme parks. He hacks into Moore’s computer and retrieves information about bank accounts.

James and Junior are returning from the beach one night when they walk in on a skirmish between Moore and some of his Florida drug contacts. One man is dead, and James is forced to kill another in self-defense. CHERUB leaders step in and arrest Moore. James and his team move back to CHERUB headquarters. James admits to Kerry that he’s liked her since basic training, and they start dating.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

CHERUB leaders monitor the kids for safety during their missions. They give them a great deal of freedom and autonomy on their missions and at headquarters, even preteens like Lauren and Kerry. They look the other way when kids use alcohol, as long as it isn’t in excess.

Keith Moore plays the caring father. He takes his kids on lavish trips and tries (unsuccessfully) to keep them out of his drug-related endeavors.


The Lord’s name is frequently used in vain in various forms. Words including d--n, s---, p---, h---, butt, d--khead, suck, crap, balls, arse and tits also appear. James flips Amy off. Lauren swears on her mother’s grave that she will complete basic training the next time around.

James and Junior find a man dead in a pool of blood. James kills a man in self-defense.


James urges Kyle to recommend the large-breasted Nicole for their mission. Kyle tells James that he’s sexist, but James says he doesn’t care.

Kerry is surprised when James admits he likes her because he’s always talking about tits, and she doesn’t have any yet. Nicole and Junior make out and touch each other sexually during a movie. Junior later tells James that he’s happy because he had his hands everywhere on Nicole.

James makes out with Junior’s sister, April, at the same movie. James makes out with Nicole on another occasion. One of Junior’s friends talks about putting his hand up a girl’s shirt.

Kyle reveals he’s gay. James talks to Nicole and Kerry about it, saying he’s not comfortable with the whole gay thing. The girls tell him it took a lot of courage for Kyle to admit the truth, and they threaten James with bodily harm if he isn’t supportive. They also say they’ve heard that one in 10 people are gay. They mention that gay people are sometimes taunted with words like faggot and queer.

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Drugs: James’s dossier about the mission explains cocaine’s origins and uses. It states the drug isn’t addictive but is still very dangerous. Junior and Nicole use cocaine, and Nicole is kicked out of CHERUB for it. James is about to try it but is interrupted. Kyle befriends a boy who frequently uses cannabis. He ends up using it himself. Since CHERUB sees the drug as less dangerous than cocaine, Kyle is punished, but not expelled.

Alcohol: Junior smuggles his father’s alcohol into a party at the youth club. Alcohol isn’t permitted, but adults look the other way as long as kids don’t get out of control. CHERUB leaders follow this same unspoken rule regarding underage drinking. Junior and Nicole get very drunk at the same time they’re high on cocaine. The other kids drink, too. While trying to sneak in and search a factory, Kerry, Lauren and James drink a little beer and slosh it on themselves. They want to appear to be drunk, rowdy kids if they’re caught. James jokes that having a crate of beer and some hot chicks would be a good way to celebrate his 13th birthday.

Crime: James reveals his mother ran a shoplifting ring before she died. Kids steal cars, joyride and are pursued by police. Kyle offers to sell James one of his old essays so James can pass a class.

Other questionable behavior: James laughs about how his class often makes a certain teacher cry. Students at James’ school call another student a retard. Nicole and Junior throw foul-smelling liquid on a man in the movie theater. James goes to the bathroom without closing the door while Kerry is nearby.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

12 and up


Robert Muchamore






Record Label



Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, a registered trademark of Simon & Schuster Inc. Originally published in 2004, this edition was published in 2010.


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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