"Forced to choose between military school and a Christian spy organization, skeptic Spencer Garmond signs on with the Bible geeks. But before he even boards the plane for Moscow, Spencer realizes this is no Bible club.
These guys mean business.
Stumbling onto a case involving a gang of homeless boys, a chilling tattoo, and the always beautiful Anya Vseveloda, Spencer struggles to find the faith needed to save the Mission League from enemy infiltration."
For creativity in the overall presentation of the story and for ingenuity in depicting the cast of characters, The New Recruit gets a thumbs-up! Spencer Garmond is a teen with a passion for basketball and a penchant for getting into trouble. But there's much more to his background (and perhaps his future) than Spencer realizes...
An offer to join the Mission League sets him on a path that forces him to face who he is and decide what (if anything) he believes in. Forget trips to the principal's office or weekends doing nothing but playing video games - the life of a new recruit is a lot more exciting (and dangerous) than Spencer initially imagines!
And the people Spencer meets are much more interesting than they first appear to be, as well. Many of Spencer's fellow agents-in-training are fleshed out throughout the book in a way that makes those secondary characters more real. I enjoyed getting to see more behind the faces shown in the sketches in the front of the book, including their faults along with their more exemplary qualities. (I must say that Gabe is a favorite of mine! I love his gentle nature and his genuineness.)
Told in a series of reports on this first of four missions (that is, in this first of four books in "The Mission League" series, with this book representing "Mission 1: Moscow"), this book is quite clever. The various images and maps scattered throughout the pages add to the feel of reading confidential files - but the narrative style is too witty and personal to be dry, thankfully.
Most of the reports are written from Spencer's perspective (in first-person), and I must say that the author pulls off the teen-boy perspective well (at least as far as this female reader can tell!). The views on the various girl characters, the attitude, the observations...it all sort of "reeks" of teen boy, which may be intriguing or off-putting, I think, depending on the reader. (Of course, as all good characters change in some way throughout the course of a story - and go through moods - it doesn't have to be one or the other throughout the whole book.)
As for the general concept of this series - the League and its purpose - I think it's clever if not entirely realistic (a bit over-the-top, in some ways). The story includes a theme of spiritual warfare and talk of angels and demons. With such a strong emphasis on faith and on learning how to use one's spiritual gifts for God's glory, Christian teens should find this an engaging story. There are some good points throughout on respecting others' choices, on learning to work well in a community, and on seeking to serve in the best way each individual can. Plenty of topics for discussion - and the ending leaves plenty of questions and promise left for the rest of the series!
While this isn't exactly my favorite type of story, I enjoy Williamson's writing style, and this book has some great elements. The New Recruit brings something "new" to the Christian YA "table," and it's an overall fun reading experience!
*With thanks to the author and publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*
- Check out the previous book spotlight post for this book to learn more about the author and watch the book trailer!
- "The Mission League" series has its own website! Learn more about the books HERE.
- If you'd like a glimpse at the story, read the first chapter of The New Recruit HERE.
- In celebration of this book's release, until October 29th you can enter the "Go Undercover Scavenger Hunt Contest" for a chance to win a $100 Barnes & Noble gift card! Click the image below to learn more.