BOOK REVIEWS

The Escape (Henderson's Boys) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-02-17 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 18 user ratings
ISBN:0340956488
LANGUAGE:English

"In the debut book of Robert Muchamore's new prequel series to CHERUB, Henderson's Boys, a 12 year old French orphan, Marc Kilgour finds himself in a new unfamiliar world than that at the orphanage. This new world is Nazi controlled France in 1940. Marc, after stumbling into an abandoned house, wakes up to a very very painful Nazi interrogation. The house belongs to a British spy named Charles Henderson, who after returning to the house to find a badly beaten boy, decides to use Marc to locate blueprints for a new type of spy ware, that lie in the hands of two children. Marc and Henderson have to race across enemy lines to get to the kids, before the Nazis do.

In the series, I noticed right off the bat that it is supposed to basically be exactly like the cherub series. The two main characters, Marc from Henderson's Boys, and James from CHERUB, are literally exactly the same. They have the exact same personality, which of course, is intended. The book, as I've heard, is supposed to answer many questions about CHERUB's background, but so far, the first book is just supposed to set up the other two still to come in the series. Theres supposed to be some big secret that reveals something about CHERUB. Although it would be helpful to decipher some of the clues in the book, you don't need to have read the cherub series to understand the escape.

But, if you've read the CHERUB books, you'll absolutely love this, because it's almost the exact same, same writing, same personalities, same idea, with just a different story plot. Overall, I totally love this book.
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" said.

"I really enjoyed the original CHERUB series, and started reading this prequel series set during World War II. Here we have the adventures of the famous Charles Henderson who started CHERUB, and his first young agents. It has a lot in common with CHERUB: the same writing style and the same kind of graphical violence.

This book, however, did not work for me as well as CHERUB had. I did not connect with the characters and situations as well as I had in the previous series. While the concept of CHERUB felt quite original, this is just a standard spy story, only with children involved in the plot. To be honest, the premise is not more unrealistic here, but with CHERUB I was able to suspend disbelief more easily, considering that a lot of effort was made to minimize the young agents' exposure to violence. Here, killing is not a desperate last resort, but it's the standard procedure, even for the good guys. Yes, it's war, and yes, these children had already had their childhoods destroyed, but who would willingly involve them in this business? It's fiction, and I'm not squeamish about violence, but I just had more difficulties suspending disbelief and getting into the story.

Anyway, the story and the characters are enjoyable enough. It's a fast read, and I'll continue with the series. Hopefully in time I'll care about these characters as much as I cared about James Adams in CHERUB. I'll give this one a vote of confidence and give it 4 stars instead of 3.

EDIT: Book 2 of the series is actually the second half of the story started here. Read together, they work better.
" said.

"I was a bit puzzled as I read a good portion of this book and had not yet met Henderson - I kept thinking, "Where is he? Isn't he a key character?"

By the time Henderson came on the scene (more than halfway through - though his name does pop up early in the book), I better understood what the author had done for the first half of the book. His careful construction of the lives and stories of siblings Rosie and Paul (children of British spy Digby Clarke), and also the parallel story of Marc (a 12-year-old who escapes from an orphanage) does a fantastic job of painting a shockingly realistic portrait of not only the children and their lives and losses during the German's mad rush forward into Paris, but also the suffering and starving French soldiers and the brutality of the German (particularly the Gestapo) officers. There are many well-detailed examples of injured and exhausted refugees, bombs devastating cafes where people drinking a cup of coffee are sometimes killed by buildings collapsing and catching fire. The author does not shy away from death or telling the truth of how awful war is.

At the same time, the creativity and spunk of the children is inspiring (I loved Paul's drawings), and when Henderson meets up with Marc and then brings the three children together in an attempt to escape with him, his clever ideas to outwit the Germans and keep himself and the children alive kept my eyes glued to the page. The children all are forced into growing up in a hurry as they learn that sometimes you have to kill in order to survive. A very powerful story that will keep you on the edge of your seat, with a somewhat painful cliff-hanger ending that will make you wish you didn't have to wait for the next book in the series.
" said.

"I was a bit puzzled as I read a good portion of this book and had not yet met Henderson - I kept thinking, "Where is he? Isn't he a key character?"

By the time Henderson came on the scene (more than halfway through - though his name does pop up early in the book), I better understood what the author had done for the first half of the book. His careful construction of the lives and stories of siblings Rosie and Paul (children of British spy Digby Clarke), and also the parallel story of Marc (a 12-year-old who escapes from an orphanage) does a fantastic job of painting a shockingly realistic portrait of not only the children and their lives and losses during the German's mad rush forward into Paris, but also the suffering and starving French soldiers and the brutality of the German (particularly the Gestapo) officers. There are many well-detailed examples of injured and exhausted refugees, bombs devastating cafes where people drinking a cup of coffee are sometimes killed by buildings collapsing and catching fire. The author does not shy away from death or telling the truth of how awful war is.

At the same time, the creativity and spunk of the children is inspiring (I loved Paul's drawings), and when Henderson meets up with Marc and then brings the three children together with him, his clever ideas to outwit the Germans and keep himself and the children alive kept my eyes glued to the page. The children all are forced into growing up in a hurry as they learn that sometimes you have to kill in order to survive. A very powerful story that will keep you on the edge of your seat, with a somewhat painful cliff-hanger ending that will make you wish you didn't have to wait for the next book in the series.
" said.

"The Escape is the first in the Henderson's Boys series which serves as a prequel to the CHERUB series, following an organisation which uses children as spies. This book surprised me a little as I expected an early form of CHERUB to have been created by the end of the book but that didn't happen. In fact Henderson himself takes a long time to turn up for a series which bears his name.

The book is set early in World War 2 as the Nazis begin to occupy France and the French surrender. It alternates between two perspectives, that of Marc, a French orphan who escapes from the orphanage and that of siblings Rosie and Paul as they too try to survive in occupied France. All three of the children are great characters but when Henderson does eventually turn up they mostly take a backseat and it is all about him. He is not a great character at present although there are still many mysteries surrounding him which may make his character more interesting. I'm still skeptical a British spy would so willing travel with a child though.

The best thing about this book is the way it brings history to life. A children's book set in World War 2 is a rare thing indeed and Muchamore does a great job at making it feel real. I felt the way he evilized the Nazis though was a bit over the top though- surely not every Nazi was an evil psychopath!

My biggest disappointment here was the ending, or the lack of one. Clearly this series is telling one story and therefore there was no closure at the end of the book. This is a terrible crime to commit when writing a book- even if the story continues there ought to be some sort of closure!

A good opening to the series and a great way for young adults to get into the history of World War 2, whilst having lots of action sequences that boys will love.
" said.

"The Escape by Robert Muchamore, the first novel in the Henderson’s Boys series, did not make the greatest impression on me. The style of writing itself was not that unappealing and did keep me somewhat interested. However after reading this book and reading summaries of the next few books in the series, I find that it follows the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz almost identically. Both series involve using teenaged kids in the art of espionage, However the difference is the Henderson’s Boys series is actually based off real life events, such as World War 2 in The Escape, whereas the entirety of the Alex Rider series is completely fictional. I feel that this kept me interested in a way, as I am interested and intrigued by the history of the World Wars. However as with Anthony Horowitz's writing style, The Escape’s writing style did not go into extreme detail about surroundings and equipment mentioned throughout the book, which led to a dissapointment.

I almost feel as if reading the Alex Rider series prior to reading this book has, in a way, discouraged my approval of this style of writing. However the way Muchamore writes, using non-fictional settings and events, such as WW2 and Hitler’s regime, has given the characters and situations much more believability. I feel as if I had never read or heard of the more popular series Alex Rider I would enjoy reading the entire Henderson’s Boys series.

However I enjoy the very subtle and not so subtle differences in the two. From the start of the series in The Escape, two boys, coming from a very different lifestyle, join together in their journey to make for some interesting situations with a very interesting relationship between the two.

So to conclude, I somewhat enjoyed this book because of the imaginative storyline and uniqueness of the situation. The only reason I would rate this book a four is because I do not enjoy the style of writing Muchamore uses throughout this book.
" said.

"Une excellente lecture qui se démarque de la saga CHERUB par son contexte historique et la richesse offerte par l’auteur !

Je ne suis franchement pas déçue. Alors que les Allemands envahissent la France, on suit le parcours du jeune orphelin Marc, fuyant l’orphelinat de Beauvais, et des deux enfants Rosie et Paul au travers de Paris, lesquels doivent remettre des plans essentiels à un certain espion Anglais : Henderson. Pour leur malheur et notre bonheur, leur chemin va finalement se croiser…
On retrouve donc des personnages présents bien avant l’organisation CHERUB. Henderson est censé créer l’organisation au cours de la saga. Dans ce livre, il va affronter mille dangers : Barrages Allemands et SS, par exemple, en compagnie d’un seul enfant, dans le seul but de mener sa mission à bien. Il est un personnage déterminé et attachant car il est le père créateur de l’organisation et celui qui va guider les enfants sans perdre son sang froid. De plus, les personnages sont plus approfondis et peu stéréotypés, avec par exemple Paul, garçon un peu froussard et Rosie, sa grande sœur courageuse.
Le scénario, si l’on peut dire, est très bon, très entraînant avec toujours cette écriture fluide typique de Muchamore. On retrouve sans cesse des péripéties et des retournements de situation qui nous clouent au livre. Le schéma se détache de CHERUB : on ne retrouve pas l’éternelle mission que les agents doivent poursuivre, mais juste un but : faire traverser la Manche à d’importants documents, de par un climat de guerre. L’originalité est plus présente encore, et on voyage au travers de la France au milieu de l’action.

J’ai beaucoup aimé le livre pour toutes ces raisons et pour les scènes d’action également. Beaucoup plus réalistes que la saga CHERUB, elles sont très sanglantes mais nous montrent une vraie réalité, et un contexte d’espionnage différent que j’ai apprécié. Muchamore ne nous épargne pas et on est loin des péripéties parfois peu probables de la saga CHERUB aux enfants parfois trop parfaits. Même la fin offre de quoi se jeter sur le deuxième tome !
" said.

"After reading the CHERUB Series, I really liked Robert Muchamore's books and my friends had also been reading the series "Henderson's Boys", so I decided to give it a crack myself, and i'm really glad I did!

The story opens in France, 1940, during World War II. As Germany are advancing and getting closer and closer to conquering France, a boy named Marc (13) has no parents and has been living in an orphanage for as long as he can remember. Meanwhile, many English spies are being caught in France and either sent back to Britain or slaughtered on the spot. Two children (Rosie (13), Paul (11)) do not know that their Dad is one of the spies being hunted down. I really enjoyed the buildup in the story which covers two different lives, and how they come together as one to attempt to escape France - this is one of the key reasons I continued to read the book because you never know whats going to happen next, or how these completely different lives can tie up into one.


One of my favourite characters in the book is Marc because not only is he an exciting character and very unpredictable, but the mystery of his parents really intrigued me and how he manages to cope on his own in France during the war, avoiding bombing, fighting Nazis, breaking into houses - its astonishing how much he can do for himself! Marc also meets up with a man called Charles Henderson, one of the few spies that hasn't been caught yet. He partners up with Marc midway through the story and it is a test to Marc's fighting abilities and emotion control in my opinion.


When reading the book I learnt how easily some people can gain power, and within a flash be taking over cities and countries - at times is as if you were in World War II, experiencing the tough challenges Marc, Paul and Rosie had to go through. Reading this makes me feel very fortunate that I live in modern times!

A quote I enjoyed from the book was "For the first time he could remember, Marc wasn’t woken by the director yelling or other kids jumping on his bed". When I read this quote I realised how to some it must be a luxury to have a warm house, food every night, a Mother and a Father, clean water - I could go on and on. It just hit me that you really should be thankful for what you have, because it could be gone in a flash.

" said.

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