CHERUB is a series of young adult spy novels, written by the English author Robert Muchamore, focusing around a division of the British Security Service named CHERUB, which employs minors, predominantly orphans, as intelligence officers. As revealed in the Henderson's Boys novel Eagle Day, CHERUB stands for Charles Henderson's Espionage Research Unit B.
Initially, the series follows James Choke, better known as James Adams (his adopted name at CHERUB), as he enters CHERUB and performs various missions. However, the focus later turns to his sister Lauren and several other characters who get vital roles in the novels. The initial series of twelve novels runs from the recruitment of Adams to his retirement from CHERUB at age seventeen.
After the success of the series in the United Kingdom, the novels have been released in the United States, New Zealand, and Australia, and translated into several languages including French, Danish, Spanish, Russian, Czech and Portuguese. A film adaptation was also commissioned. Man vs Beast was the last novel to be published in the USA.
A further series has been announced which involves an almost completely new cast of CHERUB agents, centred upon Ryan Sharma, however, sixteen-year-old Lauren Adams also appears. As of 2010, three novels have been announced.
The CHERUB novels have been released in twenty-seven countries to date.
CHERUB is the name of the fictional organization in the series. After years of speculation, Muchamore said in the Henderson's Boys novel Eagle Day that CHERUB stood for Charles Henderson Espionage Research Unit B; this was later confirmed in Secret Army by Eileen McAfferty in a telegram. CHERUB is a division of MI5. It was formed during World War II by Charles Henderson; a British spy who had used children during an operation in France. However, the official administrator of CHERUB was Eileen McAfferty. CHERUB began with a small number of boys which swelled in size as the government realised its worth. After several years of operation it took in a trial group of girls, which proved successful. Thus, girls became a part of CHERUB. Since then the CHERUB campus has grown a significant amount, improving many of its facilities. The dojo was built on behalf of a successful operation that took place in Japan and the new mission preparation building was built by the chairman of the first 6 novels, Dr. McAfferty, better known as Mac. The present chairwoman is Zara Asker.
James Adams is put through a rigorous training course that lasts for 100 days, called "Basic Training." He is sent to Malaysia with his training partner and friend Kerry Chang as part of the training. After completing Basic Training, James goes on a mission with Amy Collins where they must infiltrate a commune called Fort Harmony. James has to stop two teenagers, Fire and World, and a redneck environmentalist Brian "Bungle" Evans from killing thousands of people in an anthrax attack. While investigating Fire and World's workshop, James is suspected of contracting the anthrax disease but is later (after a lot of very toxic and vomit inducing drugs) pronounced to have a vaccine strain of the disease and so is fine. Also in a nearby town, Adams has his first girlfriend called Joanna, but they later split up as James has to go back to CHERUB Campus. After the mission James is awarded his navy T-shirt and he is especially proud about it, and shows off to his friends who don't believe that he actually earned it.
At campus, Kerry, Nicole, Kyle, and James are sent on a mission to infiltrate a drug gang called KMG, led by Keith Moore. On the mission, James has to work to befriend Keith's youngest son, Junior. He and Kerry get involved in a drug dealing delivery that ends with them stealing a car and burning it. This nearly unveils their CHERUB training but luckily they find their way out of it. The four agents are exposed to drugs and on the mission Nicole snorts a large amount of cocaine. She gets expelled because agents are not allowed to take drugs, especially Class A drugs.
James gets invited to Miami by Junior and his dad Keith Moore. He also gets his 2nd girlfriend, April Moore, although he dumps her in favour of Kerry. Whilst in Miami, they are attacked, causing James to shoot and kill a man. Keith eventually is incarcerated and the agents return to campus.
At the start of the book, James is struggling to come to terms with shooting someone in the previous book. He gets into a fight at a bowling alley and as punishment is sentenced to a recruitment mission.
However, James is saved from the recruitment mission when he is offered a position in an upcoming mission. James is joined on the mission by Dave Moss. Moss is one of James's role models since James and the rest of CHERUB campus believe that Dave once made a girl pregnant. He is also joined by his sister Lauren Adams, on her first mission. The mission is about Jane Oxford, international arms dealer, who has been untraceable for as long as she's been on the CIA's most wanted list. But then they come across a breakthrough. Jane's 14 year old son Curtis Oxford has been jailed for murder.
He's being held at Arizona Maximum Security Prison. They ask a favour from CHERUB, an organization with one essential advantage: even experienced criminals don't expect kids are spying on them. However, after a prison fight Dave is injured and taken to hospital leaving only James to break out Curtis. James becomes friends with Curtis and they break out of the prison after injuring some planted guards. Met by Lauren, they travel hundreds of kilometres until they reach Los Angeles.
However, Jane Oxford betrays them and orders some of her men to murder James and Lauren. With James having snuck out early, one of the murderers tries to suffocate Lauren with a pillow. In response, she stabs him in the throat and knocks him unconscious. James, with an FBI team, follow the other killer and Curtis, who is being taken to Jane. They see Jane and arrest her and James and Lauren return to England.
Ironically, the murderer from the team assigned to dispose of James and Lauren, wounded during a shootout, survived his wounds only to be sentenced to death by an American court at a later date.
After coming back from a mission with Shakeel, James is dumped by his girlfriend, Kerry Chang. As he leaves Kerry's room, he sees a red-shirt CHERUB called Andy Lagan and takes his temper out on him, beating him up. For this, James finds his friends ignoring him, and is punished with no holiday, suspension from missions, cleaning the mission preparation rooms every night for three months, and having anger management sessions with a counselor.
Zara feels sorry for James, so she gets him a low-risk mission to get him out of the punishment and so he can spend some time away from his friends blanking him. For a second time, James is working with Dave, a 17 year old black shirt. They are being sent to investigate Leon Tarasov who runs a garage. When they get to their flat in south London, Dave gets a job at the suspect's garage, and James gets a girlfriend called Hannah. During his first night in the area, James gets into an altercation with two goons and is arrested for it. As he is being placed in the police car, police officer Michael Patel assaults him. Hannah tells James how her cousin, Will, fell off the top of the building more than a year earlier. As James has no computer that she knows of, she gives him Will's old one.
Back home, James finds that Will had a CD with information about a robbery at a casino almost a year earlier. The theft totaled £90,000 but is too small for what they are looking for. Dave later realises that if the casino had an illegal floor with more gambling equipment that was also robbed, then there would be enough money to be what they are looking for. To help find more evidence to capture Michael Patel, Kerry and Lauren join the team. A few days later, Hannah reveals that after Will's death, Patel had deliberately run over to the body and touched it, supposedly to see if he was still alive. James and Dave figure out that that policeman had killed Will.
They tell their mission controller, John Jones, who gets a special section of the police to investigate. They do, and find out that Alan Falco, the retired evidence keeper, had destroyed the statements of the witnesses which contained evidence which could have Michael Patel arrested. In return for immunity from prosecution Falco returns the statements and Michael Patel and Leon Tarasov are arrested for murder of Will Clarke and for robbery of the Golden Sun Casino. James and Dave return to campus and James reconciles himself to his friends, including Kerry.
James and Lauren Adams and Dana Smith are sent on a mission to Australia, posing as the children of an ASIS agent. They have been sent to determine whether a cult, The Survivors, is associated with Help Earth, and as such are sent to a "recruitment hotbed" area. The "family" starts going to cult meetings, and are eventually accepted into the commune. Lauren and James are accepted into an elite cult school in the Ark, the cult's headquarters. There, James befriends Rathbone "Rat" Regan, son of the cult's founder. After a while, Lauren develops a crush on Rat, and he uses his influence with one of his father's many wives to get her and James jobs in the offices, rather than in the stifling warehouse or laundry rooms.
Dana, meanwhile, extremely depressed about her unspectacular role in the mission, is summoned to the head of the commune's office. There, she and another cult member are told that they are to participate in a Help Earth mission to blow up an oil tanker. Her attempts to warn the mission controllers fail, and she ends up having to stop the attack herself.
However, ASIS now knows of the links between Help Earth and the Survivors. Having been waiting for an excuse to attack the Ark, elite troops are sent in to destroy it, despite the CHERUB agents' warnings that the cult is well-prepared for such an event. A helicopter is shot down and dozens of troops are killed in the first attack. In the lull that follows, James, Rat and Lauren attempt an escape. However, they are captured and locked in a room full of toddlers by a sadistic overseer.
When they manage to overpower her, Lauren points out that they need to take the kids with them or risk them dying. James reluctantly agrees, and they drag the half-asleep toddlers with them. Rat says that the most likely way out is through the sewage system, so they go there. James is making his way through the tank when an engineer appears. A brief moment of panic is proved unfounded as Rat persuades the man that he is on a divine mission. The man then offers to help them.
The now nine-strong group get out, but later hear that in another ASIS attack, several dozen children were killed when a wall collapsed on them. Rat is reported dead, but is revealed to be alive and going out with Lauren, who receives a black shirt. Dana is given her navy shirt, while all James gets is a stomach bug caught in the sewage system. Rat is recruited as a CHERUB agent and the four return to campus.
The book starts with a 14 year old boy called Andy Pierce witnessing his mother getting assaulted by two masked men who are working for the Animal Freedom Militia.
The book then skips to Kerry being annoyed by her boyfriend, James. James goes into his room and he is met by his sister Lauren. She asks him to help her and her best friend Bethany to sneak into the basic training compound to give Bethany's brother, Jake, and Lauren's crush, Rat, some food. James refuses but Lauren blackmails him by threatening to tell Kerry about him cheating on her during a mission a year before.
James joins the girls on the mission to get the food to the trainees. All goes fine but Mac watches them on the back up CCTV and they get caught. James is not punished for being blackmailed and he, Lauren and Kyle and sent on a mission to bring down the AFM (Animal Freedom Militia).
Lauren is stuck with the ex-con while he meets up with his old animal rights protest group. They get invited to rescuing dozens of dogs from the compound which were supposed to be sold onto the testing company. All goes well in the rescue, but the rescuers were overwhelmed because many more dogs were rescued than they thought. This chapter ends with Lauren saving a puppy from getting run over by Zara's car. They end up keeping the dog in the chairwoman's house. Lauren always visits the puppy, who was called Meatball (due to Lauren being a vegetarian).
Together James, Lauren and Kyle succeed in their mission and return home. On the mission Lauren becomes a vegetarian and at the end James puts meat in her bag on the plane to annoy her. Zara Asker becomes chairman succeeding Dr. McAfferty who retires. 
An MI5 operation goes disastrously wrong when two agents working with James murder their prime suspect, Denis Obidin, and he is trapped within Aero City, Russia. He is not able to contact campus and when he attempts to he is beaten up badly by a group of Russian thugs. They have heard of a reward offered for James' capture, and as such they call the hotline. A short while later, a man appears, hands them their reward and bundles James into a car.
Once they are driving, he reveals himself to be a CIA agent working undercover, and takes James back to his flat where he treats the boy to the best of his ability before challenging him as to why he was there, and why the suspect was killed. When James protests that their intentions were peaceful, he is shown CCTV footage of the murder. The agent lets James call CHERUB campus before he leaves, telling him not to go to sleep at any cost.
Ewart appears a while later and takes James to an airfield where two British service people are to help with their escape. The Russian authorities appear, though, and they are forced to take the couple with them. On the flight, James passes out when air trapped in his broken nose expands due to air pressure changes and the pilot ends up making an emergency landing in Helsinki, Finland. Half a week later, James wakes up in hospital on CHERUB campus to the relief of Lauren and Kerry.
Once he is up and about, James is made to choose between helping junior CHERUBs preparing for Basic Training or a course in socioeconomics. James chooses the PE training, and is asked to "help" a redshirt, Kevin Summer, who is scared of heights. Bruce Norris helps, but breaks his ankle falling from the height course. However, while this freaks James out, Kevin gains confidence and soon decides to try the height course alone. He succeeds, and James is rewarded for his work by having his history GCSE pass guaranteed.
Meryl Spencer and some of James' best friends get together and organize a day out and they think he deserves it after all he went through. James has no idea what is happening until he gets a message from Meryl.He heads down to her office terrified as he doesn't know why she wants him. When he arrives he learns that all his friends have put together enough money and vouchers to go to a fancy hotel. Firstly they go motor carting and later they go a Spa Hotel where they get drunk and James pressures his girlfriend Kerry to have sex with him. She refuses and leaves in a crying state, but forgives him the next morning.
After the Russia disaster, James has been suspended from all missions and after a talk with Mr. Pike, he suspects Ewart, the mission controller, of betraying him. James needs to have his history homework finished and spills coffee over Kerry's work while he was copying off it, landing in a fight. James is later heartbroken when Kerry shouts at him and accidentally mentions him screwing his mission. James later asks Kerry to help him investigate, but refuses, so James goes alone. While looking through Ewart's office, James is caught by Dana, another CHERUB agent, who decides to help. From investigating some papers they found in the office, they find out that Ewart has been lying about how much evidence he had. After, Dana admits that she fancies James and they end up kissing. Then it leads to stripping and Dana allows James to see her breasts. However, as things develop Lauren walks in and sees James with Dana's bra in his hand. James tries to wiggle out of trouble by saying it was an accident. Lauren is upset and as James tries to comfort her she says to James that he thinks sex is like eating chips.
The next morning Dana and James take one of the CHERUB's pool cars and follow Ewart who meets an old reporter who used to write stories about Lord Hilton, a rival of Denis Obidin (James' mark from the Russia mission) and uncovered links that suggested that Lord Hilton was having people who endangered his son's political career and his own aeroplane business assassinated. He had arranged for Ewart to be killed but James and Dana saved his life for which Zara is very grateful. She apologises for keeping James in the dark and awards him and Dana the black shirt. By now, James had decided that he wants to date Dana. When the new couple go to dinner, Kerry (who found out about their kiss from Lauren) starts a fight with Dana. A food fight breaks out as James stands there, grinning as all hell breaks loose around him and that Dana and Kerry are fighting over him.
This centres around two major drug dealing gangs in the turf war surrounding the collapse of KMG (Keith Moore's Gang) (See CHERUB: Class A). Gabrielle O'Brien and Michael Hendry are sent to infiltrate the infamous "Slasher Boys," led by a man (DeShawn Andrews) who calls himself Major Dee. Later on Gabrielle is stabbed badly in the stomach and back by a Runt, a rival gang member and sent to a hospital. Michael Hendry still stays. In the first part of the book it describes how James and his new girlfriend Dana are helping on the last few days of Basic Training as instructors.
After Gabrielle O'Brien's serious injury the Ethics Committee was thinking of calling off the mission but they decided that they would wait and see. Norman Large, the former CHERUB training instructor and Zara Asker's neighbour, tries to blackmail Lauren so he can be a CHERUB training instructor again. Kyle, James, Kerry, Lauren, and Bruce play a trick on Mr. Large's adopted daughter, Hayley Large-Brooks, who they trick into going for a date with James. When Kyle and Lauren confront Large with photographs of James and Hayley's date, he tries to kill them but is knocked out by Lauren. All the group except for Andy Lagan is punished for this prank with Kyle being expelled, Lauren getting suspended from missions for two-thirds of a year and helping in the junior block, while the agents with more minor roles get mainly suspended punishment laps.
Before James leaves for his next mission, they have a leaving party for Kyle who is going on a gap year and then going to study law at University of Cambridge. James cries as Kyle leaves. Adams and his friend Bruce Norris are sent to infiltrate the group known as the Mad Dogs FC, who is run by Sasha Thompson, a gangster. James uses his past relationship with Junior Moore to make infiltrating the gang easier. He is soon accepted into the gang and given a major role. However, this annoys Junior, who Sasha Thompson is trying to protect. James has sex with Sasha Thompson's (the Mad Dogs' leader) daughter Lois.
Junior asks James to help him rob a shop, and James is forced to refuse and warn the police, so that Junior is arrested. During the book there are many violent encounters. The biggest is a massive storming of an airport where police arrest around 40 people. James, Bruce and Michael are sent back to campus. In the end of the book, James admits to Dana that he had sex with Lois. Dana is happy that he would admit such a thing and forgives him, but makes him take an STD test. The test returns negative. 
In The Sleepwalker, James' role is more of a sub-plot. James is sent to a fast food restaurant for 2 weeks work experience. The book starts with a family in a plane that crashes, later revealed to be Mac's family.
At CHERUB campus, James, Lauren, and Dana are thrown into a training exercise pitting the minds of the black shirts against the white and red shirts. The black shirts have to try and get back to the main building and their beds, while the red and white shirts attempt to stop them. Any black shirt who didn't finish the exercise have to run punishment laps. Lauren saves James, Dana, Kerry and Gabrielle by using her brother's converted golf cart, which had been fitted out with a petrol engine for racing the other day.
While at a club with Kerry, Dana, co-worker Gemma and her boyfriend Danny, he sees Danny pushing around Gemma. He tries to get Danny to stop, however, Danny sets on him and James knocks him out.
Later Danny confronts James with two of his friends in an alley and tries to provoke him into a fight by saying he beat up Gemma the night before. When Gemma comes into the alley from the restaurant, Danny starts beating her to bait James. However, Kerry enters the alley from the restaurant and attacks Danny breaking one of his arms with her bare hands before breaking his legs with a wooden bat he was carrying. Meanwhile, James defeats Danny's friends and stop Kerry from further injuring Danny by taking the bat off her. However, the police arrive and seeing James with the bat wrongfully arrest him.
Both Kerry and James get punished for the tussle. Later on though while fulfilling their punishments (painting) James and Kerry start snogging, but before anything went further than James taking Kerry's shirt off he realizes that what he was doing was wrong and that he didn't want to cheat on Dana. Then Kerry tells him that she still has feelings for him and offers him her body but they decide to stay friends. After the book's events James, Dana and several others are given 50 hours decorating duty for damage done to paintball equipment in James' drunken 16th birthday party.
This involves Adams on a mission at the beginning, acting as a protestor. It later moves on to many other things such as Lauren Adams and some other younger CHERUBs going on a breaking and entering mission to test the security of a new air traffic control centre to be opened in the coming months.
Dana cheats on James with Michael Hendry but is spotted and photographed by Kevin Sumner, who James helped to get through basic training. Despite James' sister, Lauren, trying to hide it, James later finds out and they have an argument. They split up after James tries to beat up Michael. Four weeks later Dana dumps Michael who starts begging for Gabrielle back; she then tells him to stick it.
James then goes on a big war game near Las Vegas with the many other special military forces. British special forces, and CHERUB agents against the American military. James plants a strong laxative in the Americans' water supply which leads to many of their troops being put out of action. He also learns card counting and starts helping Instructor Kazakov win money at various casinos. Working together they win a total of $92,300, playing at two blackjack tables. His dream is to ride around America on a Harley-Davidson and make tons of money gambling.
For the second time, James' plot isn't the biggest. He goes on a mission with Lauren and Dante Welsh to infiltrate the biker gang the Brigands (who appear to share many attributes of the real-life Bandidos Motorcycle Club), led by a man who is fascinated by Adolf Hitler and has therefore adopted the name "Führer". The Führer killed Dante's parents and all but one of his siblings four years earlier (shown in the first part of the book). Before the second part begins, it shows Dante and Lauren's first glance at CHERUB campus.
During a party at CHERUB campus, Dante returns from a long mission, the second longest in CHERUB history and is told he cannot receive his black shirt despite such an outstanding effort on the mission, as you can only receive a black shirt after outstanding performances on two or more missions.
Dante is asked to find a pen that Zara dropped two days ago, as an extra "mission." He finds it under his chair and returns it to Zara thus receiving his Black Shirt.
James develops a rivalry with Julian (Ashley's boyfriend) after he and Ashley flirt. He works at the Marina Heights crepe stand, where the Führer's sixteen-year-old son, Martin, works. He is part of the "rebel tea party," but he still doesn't advance in the mission and it is abandoned. After returning to campus, Kerry challenges James. If he can pin her, he could do "anything he wanted." But Kerry is quicker and she threatens to kill James if he cheats on her again, like with Dana in The Fall. And Lauren is still with Rat, who she kisses near the end of the book.
Shadow Wave, begins with James and Kerry on a mission to finally catch the Fuĥrer; on which they succeed but results in James going to hospital after tearing open his thighs. When he gets back to campus, it's the wedding day of mission controller Chloe Blake and a junior block carer. This is an opportunity for ex-CHERUBs like Kyle, Amy, Dana and Mr. Large to return to campus. Kerry is then taken to James room for a cold bath because of her getting drunk. Kyle finds James's mission briefing and reads through it. He explains that the man James was protecting was a corrupt government official in Malaysia. So James decides to go through with the plan and while so he tries to persuade Lauren to do so but Lauren doesn't want to and wants to go on the shopping treat with the Malaysian minister's wife.