Typical Spencer: "I used to like church. When I was a kid, I looked forward to Sunday school, bringing my quarters for starving children in Africa, making cross crafts out of popsicle sticks, memorizing Bible verses, singing songs with hand motions, and showing Grandma the cartoon story in the take-home paper. Somewhere along the way I just lost interest. But Im glad, you know? Because when I look at the people who are my age those churcher teens I dont want to be one of those people. Those happy, peppy, Yay, God! types. Ive got my friends. I dont need all that joy."
Spencer Garmond thought he was an ordinary kid who lived with an ordinary grandma and who went to an ordinary (though boring) Christian school. And then he gets an opportunity to join the Mission League. A bunch of Christian spies? What a joke. But threatened with military school and intrigued by his family history, he joins them. Now this better not be a waste of what might have been a great basketball conditioning summer. And they better not preach at him.
I seriously loved "The New Recruit" with its action-packed story that was also full of truths about God. Jill Williamson did a great job of making Christianity something very real and applicable to teens. At first, Spencer doesn't want anything to do with the "churchers," but later he comes to realize that maybe God really does care.
Spencer is a great character, who is fun to read about and very relatable. His voice, dripped with boyishness and quick wit and just plain freshness, was one of the best parts of the story.
"The New Recruit" is free on kindle. It is the first book in The Mission League series. The others are "Chokepoint" (novella), "Project Gemini," "Ambushed" (novella), "Broken Trust," "Lockstep" (novella), and "The Profile Match."
Join Spencer Garmond, a would-be juvenile delinquent with his sights set on the NBA, as he is introduced to an international Christian espionage organization. Not only is he invited to join, but he learns his family has long-term connections to the Mission League. He's not sure about all these churchers, but they challenge his beliefs and his future. Is the nightmare he's fought for years about to come true?
Their summer assignment in Moscow flings open the door to much more adventure and danger than anyone dreamed. Spencer keeps finding himself in troublesome situations. His fate may end up worse than being sent home in disgrace, if he can stay alive to face it. This thrilling novel appeals to readers of all ages. I'm looking forward to the next one in the series.
Teen spy/adventure story -- but not what you think
April 10, 2013
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 doesn't 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, "The Mission League takes on the forces of darkness to expose the truth" (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 "real" in his struggles with faith issues. He doesn't 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 author's note, and acknowledgements are included. I dislike having the author's 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.
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!
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 she's one tough girl. I do think she shouldn't be punching the guys on her team (in the shoulder)-even if she doesn't mean it in a bad way-it's good for girls to know they can be tough without throwing their weight around/being aggressive unnecessarily (i.e. just because you can kick someone's butt to Mars doesn't mean you should :)). I understand that in books, to show a character's personality, actions like hitting guys in the shoulder may be necessary and don't get me wrong, I love that there's a Christian girl in a book who can fight. It's awesome! I just wanted to make a "real life" note to girls who want to be seen as tough; it's enough that you know you are tough...you don't 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 didn't 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 didn't know they were my teammates, I'd have fought back to the death-literally. If someone tried to kidnap me, I'd break their bones and/or hurt any other part of their body I had to. So unless the "attacking" teammates wear thick (preferably knife-proof) padded clothing (and a cup), they really shouldn't be sent on a drill like that. This is another "real life" note...it doesn't 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 don't think I ever quite figured out Jensina, Isaac, or Jake. And Nick is a certifiable jerk. And I would've sent him packing in a minute if I was in charge. Just saying.
Speaking of the leadership of the Mission League, I personally don't like that they recruited Spencer since he's not a Christian. I mean, it's explained in the book but a real-life mission organization would (hopefully) not send a non-believer to do mission work so it still doesn't 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 don't know how much I can say about the plot without giving things away. The villains are very creepy, dark characters. I think it's 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 don't let people leave. That part of the book is very realistic. I think it's cool that most of The New Recruit takes place in Moscow, Russia. It's interesting to see Russian words/phrases sprinkled into the dialogue.
Wow, I don't 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 "real life" notes above.
If you read The New Recruit, I'm sure you'll have some thoughts of your own!
Note: I received this book for free from Team Novel Teen in exchange for my honest review.