#1: The New Recruit
Teen spy/adventure story -- but not what you think
Award-winning author Jill Williamson delivers a contemporary book filled with spies and adventure, just the type of book to appeal to teens.
In The New Recruit, teenager Spencer Garmond was in too many fights. His grandma gives him a choice: attend a military school where he would give up basketball or go on a summer trip with the Mission League. What Spencer doesnÃ¢ÂÂt know is that the Mission League is more of a Christian spy organization than a Bible club. Spencer is not a Christian, so neither choice appeals to him.
Once he decides to go, he begins training in espionage for his trip to Moscow. One of his new friends explains, Ã¢ÂÂThe Mission League takes on the forces of darkness to expose the truthÃ¢ÂÂ (p.43). He is bullied by one League member, and even faces a few near-death experiences.
Williamson does a good job of capturing the teen boy persona. He was Ã¢ÂÂrealÃ¢ÂÂ in his struggles with faith issues. He doesnÃ¢ÂÂt become a Christian by the end of the book, nor does everything work out. The book is filled with good and bad examples of teens, and it is usually clear which one is which.
The New Recruit is a good start to a new series with possibilities for more adventures. A cast of characters, a glossary of Russian terms, an authorÃ¢ÂÂs note, and acknowledgements are included. I dislike having the authorÃ¢ÂÂs note in the beginning of a book, especially one encouraging the reader to study Bible references about spiritual gifts. I think it would have been better placed at the end of the book.
Disclaimer: Book reviews are my opinion of books I either purchased or received free of cost from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.
April 10, 2013
Fast-paced and engaging from the very first!
A fantastic beginning to what I know will be an amazing series! There were so many things to love about The New Recruit, full of diverse characters to fit every personality, it would be hard not to find at least one characters to identify with. For me as a homeschooler, I really liked how the homeschoolers were well represented by Beth and Isaac!
I loved how engaged I was from the very start, and that Spencer and his friends' senses of humor kept me smiling throughout. There was plenty of action too, but I think one of my favorite things was being able to see the beginning of Spencer's journey towards faith, which I think was well done and very realistic.
The members of The Mission League were all so different, but I really liked how they interacted and became closer through their mission.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and had a hard time putting it down. I loved the mystery of it all, and how Spencer kind of was thrust into a surreal situation and how he had to adjust and find his place on the team. This book is one that can totally be enjoyed by a vast range of ages by both boys and girls, and adults alike! (I even saw my brother giving it more than a few glances!) Jill Williamson hits all the right notes, taking Spencer on a physical, emotional, and spiritual journey, that I will not be forgetting an time soon, especially while eagerly awaiting the next book in the series! A book I highly recommend to practically anyone!
I received this book from Jill Williamson in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
October 25, 2012
The New Recruit (Mission 1: Moscow) by Jill Williamson is a unique twist on the spy genre. A Christian spy organization where spies memorize Bible verses, do mission work, help the homeless, etc. is a very creative idea.
My favorite character is Beth because sheÃ¢ÂÂs one tough girl. I do think she shouldnÃ¢ÂÂt be punching the guys on her team (in the shoulder)Ã¢ÂÂeven if she doesnÃ¢ÂÂt mean it in a bad wayÃ¢ÂÂitÃ¢ÂÂs good for girls to know they can be tough without throwing their weight around/being aggressive unnecessarily (i.e. just because you can kick someoneÃ¢ÂÂs butt to Mars doesnÃ¢ÂÂt mean you should :)). I understand that in books, to show a characterÃ¢ÂÂs personality, actions like hitting guys in the shoulder may be necessary and donÃ¢ÂÂt get me wrong, I love that thereÃ¢ÂÂs a Christian girl in a book who can fight. ItÃ¢ÂÂs awesome! I just wanted to make a Ã¢ÂÂreal lifeÃ¢ÂÂ note to girls who want to be seen as tough; itÃ¢ÂÂs enough that you know you are tough...you donÃ¢ÂÂt need to flaunt your skills :). And by the way, I would love to take League Combat Training (LCT)!
I sympathized with the main character, Spencer Garmond, most of the time. (*spoiler alert* As a nitpicky note, I was disappointed in Spencer because as a 6'3'' athlete, he didnÃ¢ÂÂt do a good job (in my opinion) of fighting back against his teammates when they tried to kidnap him for the drill. And in reality, a team leader would have to have a few screws lose to send students to kidnap teammates. If I didnÃ¢ÂÂt know they were my teammates, IÃ¢ÂÂd have fought back to the deathÃ¢ÂÂliterally. If someone tried to kidnap me, IÃ¢ÂÂd break their bones and/or hurt any other part of their body I had to. So unless the Ã¢ÂÂattackingÃ¢ÂÂ teammates wear thick (preferably knife-proof) padded clothing (and a cup), they really shouldnÃ¢ÂÂt be sent on a drill like that. This is another Ã¢ÂÂreal lifeÃ¢ÂÂ note...it doesnÃ¢ÂÂt mean the writing is bad. It actually made for a very interesting scene in the book! And we find out Spencer is not a great fighter. *end of spoiler*)
My opinion on the other Mission League teens? Gabe and Arianna are nice and very missions-minded. Isabel comes across as very nice but terribly naive. I donÃ¢ÂÂt think I ever quite figured out Jensina, Isaac, or Jake. And Nick is a certifiable jerk. And I wouldÃ¢ÂÂve sent him packing in a minute if I was in charge. Just saying.
Speaking of the leadership of the Mission League, I personally donÃ¢ÂÂt like that they recruited Spencer since heÃ¢ÂÂs not a Christian. I mean, itÃ¢ÂÂs explained in the book but a real-life mission organization would (hopefully) not send a non-believer to do mission work so it still doesnÃ¢ÂÂt quite sit right with me. It does make for an interesting book seeing the Mission League through the eyes of a skeptic, though. And as a side note, I wish there was a Mission League in real life.
These are all life principle things. The only critical thing I have to say about the actual writing is that there were several typos (missing letters/words/etc.) throughout the book that were distracting and sometimes jolted me out of the book as I tried to understand what the sentence meant.
I donÃ¢ÂÂt know how much I can say about the plot without giving things away. The villains are very creepy, dark characters. I think itÃ¢ÂÂs great how this book gives a glimpse into how cults try to lure people into their organization and then keep them in bondage. They make it sound appealing to join and then they donÃ¢ÂÂt let people leave. That part of the book is very realistic. I think itÃ¢ÂÂs cool that most of The New Recruit takes place in Moscow, Russia. ItÃ¢ÂÂs interesting to see Russian words/phrases sprinkled into the dialogue.
Wow, I donÃ¢ÂÂt normally write reviews even close to this long which means this book made me think a lot. I thought about the characters and what I would do if I were in their shoes which is why there are the three Ã¢ÂÂreal lifeÃ¢ÂÂ notes above.
If you read The New Recruit, IÃ¢ÂÂm sure youÃ¢ÂÂll have some thoughts of your own!
Note: I received this book for free from Team Novel Teen in exchange for my honest review.
October 8, 2012
What an awesome book!
I've been waiting to read this book for ages and when I finally got it I couldn't put it down. Jill Williamson is one of my favorite authors and she did such an amazing job with this book.
Ã¢ÂÂWhat can I say? IÃ¢ÂÂm a moronÃ¢ÂÂ I read that first line and I knew I was going to love Spencer. At times I wanted to slap him, but thatÃ¢ÂÂs what makes him a good character. He is real. He is hilarious, hormonal, skeptical, temperamental, sweet, and one hundred percent reckless. As I read New Recruit I felt like I was right there with him as he discovered a cult, got into trouble, struggled to do what is right, and tried to fix his mistakes.
I loved that Spencer had a hard time believing in God and the Christian spy organization. It made it all the more real. The fact that Jill wrote it from a non-Christian perspective really makes you think about the way that non-Christians view Christians. While Spencer didnÃ¢ÂÂt fully believe in God at the end of the book, I did notice a huge improvement in his character.
I really liked was that the characters made mistakes, but they learned from them. And while I have read so many young adult books where the adults just arenÃ¢ÂÂt in the picture New Recruit isnÃ¢ÂÂt like that. The adults are there and they are a huge part of the story.
I think one of my favorite parts of New Recruit despite the non-stop action and hilarious lines, was the fact that all the other characters had a purpose in the story. They weren't flat like side characters usually are. They are well developed and while I wanted to smack certain ones, I loved Beth and Gabe the most.
Jill Williamson has so much skill at weaving stories that you will want to read again and again. New Recruit was awesome and I'll be in agony until book two comes out because I cannot wait to read it and see what happens next.
October 1, 2012