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Class A (CHERUB #2) (Bk. 2) - Robert Muchamore When James Choke's mother dies, it looks as though he's on the fast track to a young offender's institution. It seems as though luck is on his side, however, when he is recruited into CHERUB, a secret branch of the government that trains and uses children as spies. He becomes James Adams, and his new life begins.

Class A covers James's second big mission as part of the CHERUB organisations. James and three other CHERUB agents (Kyle, Kerry and Nicole) are given the task of helping MI5 task force, Operation Snort, bring down Keith Moore, Europe's most powerful cocaine dealer, and his company, KMG.

I enjoyed this book a little more than the previous one, as I felt that it didn't fall into the same pacing pitfalls. Whilst it was still fast-paced and action-packed, I didn't feel as though Muchamore was trying to cram too much in. There were also slower parts of the book (though not too slow), which allowed James and the reader to regroup themselves after the more dramatic scenes.

There were a few issues with the style, however, which still prevented me from being able to give the book five stars. A couple of times in the narrative, it seemed as though Muchamore jumped to someone else's head from James's third person limited point of view. This was rather jarring, even in the obviously deliberate case of Dinesh. I could kind of forgive the scene where we were in Dinesh's head, but I didn't like the couple of sentences where we were suddenly seeing things from Kerry's point of view (to name an example that particularly stood out). This might be nitpicky, but when you are completely immersed in someone's mind, it is unsettling to suddenly be in someone else's, especially for only a sentence or two.

Aside from that, however, I really enjoyed Class A. The danger level seemed to be kicked up a notch in this book, with Jame exploring the dark, dangerous world of the drug trade. Without giving too much away, I also really liked how the conclusion to this one was much more action-packed and out of control, rather than just fizzling out like the end of the previous book. The only thing that I didn't like about the conclusion was that they didn't really give an explanation for James's disappearance to his friends or to his mark - they could have at least faked his death or something.

Though this is a book aimed at the young adult market, it is definitely for the older end of the spectrum. Muchamore deals with some dark issues in this book, specifically the drug trade and the lives that are effected by it (on both sides). There is also some quite strong violence in this book, particularly in the lead up to its conclusion. I really admire Muchamore for bringing some of these issues into young adult literature, as they are important and cannot just be swept under the rug. Some readers may baulk at the idea of 12/13-year-old kids anywhere near drugs, so be aware that there is at least one scene that can be described as explicit. The novel is also quite explicit about the consequences of drugs as well, so it in no way encourages taking them (in case anyone was worried about that).

Class A sees James's interest in girls continue to increase. I like how Muchamore handles the minefield that is young love, with James's interest wavering from girl to girl (depending on who he's likely to get a kiss off). However, despite this there is only one person who he truly likes - though we'll see how long that lasts, haha, seeing as he's only thirteen by the end of the book.

I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that Kyle came out as gay to James in this book (though, looking back, it shouldn't have been that surprising). Not only is it nice to see a prominent gay character in a book series aimed at boys, James's reaction was totally believable. He wasn't just instantly accepting - he was confused and a little bit disgusted, but thankfully still managed to remain friends with Kyle and grow to accept him (slowly). It wasn't dealt with in any overt fashion, but it was still dealt with, and I (again) admire Muchamore for that.

James grew as a character over the course of this book. He is still very much a pre-teen boy who gets himself into all sorts of trouble by being a reckless idiot, but I felt as though he grew up a lot in this novel. This was epitomised by him giving his ill-gotten gains from drug-running and shoplifting to charity at the end of the novel. He also had to rely on his own smarts and reflexes in the conclusion, which was great. You really got to see how James reacted in a crisis, which was great.

I have to admit, I liked Lauren a lot more in this book. I actually felt as though she deserved her place in CHERUB in this book, whereas I didn't in the previous book. I'm looking forward to seeing how she grows as a character.

In conclusion, I really liked this book, despite the couple of problems I had with it. I'm looking forward to seeing where the future takes James and his friends at CHERUB. :)