#59.Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
I actually started with Artemis Fowl: the Artic Incident, as the first book still was MIA from the library. About halfway through the book, the first Artemis Fowl had finally arrived.Artemis Fowl is a young-adult fantasy novel written in the third person, by Irish author Eoin Colfer. It is the first book in the Artemis Fowl series, followed by Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident. Throughout the book, the third person narrative switches repeatedly from following the human characters to following the fairy characters to present underlying themes of greed and conflict. Described by its author as “Die Hard with fairies”, it follows the adventures of Artemis Fowl, a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind, as he kidnaps a fairy for a large ransom of gold.
You might notice there’s a string of mumbo jumbo along the bottom of every page of the book. It’s a message in code, and yes, it is possible to break it because I managed to. You can decide for yourself whether it’s actually a worthwhile activity, but only after you’ve done the work. I’ll tell you this though, just to prove that I really did do it myself – the message is repeated, and the author is merciful enough to tell you when to stop.
The book received a mostly favorable critical response, and several awards. ‘Wildly original… and you thought fairy stories were just for kids.’ Artemis Fowl tells the gripping story of a clever yet sinister young boy who has discovered a secret world of “fairies”. Not fairies as you would probably think of them e.g. cute with wings and star wands – more like a race of little people with limited magical skills. He uses this information to try and blackmail the Fairy race into giving him vast amounts of gold. Unfortunately for him, the fairy he tries to capture is a member of the fairy secret police force and his troubles are just beginning. This book is very funny in places and quite gripping in others. While there is a bit more violence than you would generally find in a book of this type, I feel that it’s appropriate for the age group of the targeted audience. A film adaptation was reported to be in the writing stage in mid-2008, with Jim Sheridan directing, but no further information was given as to the sit-rep of the movie.In general, the book received a very positive critical response – in 2004 it received the Young Reader’s Choice Award and Garden State Teen Book Award, among other awards. The New York Post said “Artemis Fowl is great … a new thriller fairy tale that will grab your interest, no matter your age.” and the Library Journal said “Fun to read, full of action and humour, this is recommended for all public libraries and to readers of all ages.” Time.com said, “Artemis Fowl is pacy, playful, and very funny, an inventive mix of myth and modernity, magic and crime,” while The New York Times Book Review said that “Colfer has done enormously, explosively well.” Kate Kellaway of The Observer wasn’t as impressed and called the book “a smart, amusing one-off. It flashes with hi-tech invention – as if Colfer were as much an inspired boffin as a writer.”The Amazon.com official review highly complimented the book, saying “Fantastic stuff from beginning to end, Artemis Fowl is a rip-roaring, 21st century romp of the highest order.” and the book was also generally well received by the public, with an average score of 4/5 from Amazon users. So Colfer must have done something right. However, another Time Magazine review criticized the “abysmal” writing and the characterization, calling Artemis “repellent in almost every regard.” It concluded that Artemis Fowl is “an awkward, calculated, humorless and mean-spirited book.”
USA Today’s review concluded: “All the familiar action-flick clichés are trotted out: the backstabbing, politically astute subordinate; the seemingly loony but loyal computer expert; the dabs of family loyalty; the requisite happy ending; the utterly unsubtle plugs for the sequel; the big action scenes. … Resist the hype, parents, booksellers and librarians. This is not the new Harry Potter, nor is it a good children’s book.” Seriously, this is too bad, that USA Today cannot appreciate that even if children decide to read the Artemis Fowl series, at least they are indeed reading.