Saturday, August 04, 2007

Artemis Fowl

I've just finished a lightning fast (for me) read of Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl and I absolutely loved it. In a way it provided me with all the answers to what I feel is lacking in the Harry Potter series (although I won't go on about that anymore- I know most people don't agree with me).

Colfer's novel is aimed at young readers. It tells the story of one Artemis Fowl, a criminal mastermind and twelve year old, who embarks on an ambitious scheme to steal fairy gold. Artemis is a wonderful character, neither obviously good nor obviously evil, smart, aristocratic and supremely confident in his ability to pull off this job.

The fairies in the story are also great. In Colfer's world the fairies, along with trolls, dwarfs and other magical creatures, have been driven deep underground in order to keep their existence a secret from the Mud Men (humans). Policing this vast underground world is the elite LEPrecon unit, and Captain Holly Short is their first female officer. When Artemis manages to kidnap her during a rare but necessary journey above ground to perform a ceremony that will renew her magical abilities, the LEPrecon unit begins a rescue operation that will stop at nothing to keep the world of fairies and that of humans from colliding.

Colfer has so much fun mixing genres in his novel. The fairies of the LEPrecon unit are straight out of a cop show, especially cigar-chomping, hard-living Commander Root, and some of the dialogue is priceless, especially when Colfer makes fun of cliched police speak. These fairies smoke, swear and have all the petty ambitions and jealousies of humans. I also particularly enjoyed the character of Foaly, the tech expert who is a little too big for his boots, but who is the only one who understands how all the fairy equipment works. Oh, and who just happens to be a centaur.

Young readers will love some great fart jokes involving a dwarf with a rather 'explosive' digestive system. I have to admit I laughed out loud during this part of the novel, proving you never really out grow toilet humour.

Artemis Fowl is witty, fun and thoroughly unique in style. This is a fantasy novel in which characters aren't telegraphed as 'good' or 'evil' and I appreciated this more complex approach to morality. In fact, I really wasn't sure who I wanted to come out of the story triumphant, the charismatic Artemis with his stolen booty of fairy gold, or the LEPrecon fairies, who risk their lives to recover the treasure and restore balance between the worlds.

I can see why Colfer's series has been so popular. He never talks down to his audience, young or old, and he resists the urge to oversimplify. And, of course, he writes a cracking good yarn.

3 comments:

Ange said...

I've read the original book, The Opal Incident, the Eternity Code and Opal Deception and they are really fun. I love Holly. She is a very cool fairy indeed. Artemis is also pretty hilarious. I think the original book is the best though...have you read the others? Jess - Harry Potter is NOT lacking. OK, JK is not as good as Phillip P but I think I would put Potter ahead of Fowl. Fowl is quicker to read however and although that sounds like quite a shallow thing to day, ti means the reading experience is less of a saga and more of a whirlwind of action which in itself is compelling.

jess said...

Hey Ange. I haven't read the rest of the series but I probably will, based on the first one.

We'll have to agree to disagree about the HP issue, I'm afraid! AF is so much more interesting, if only because things are problematic in the AF world, unlike Rowling's very simplistic black and white morality.

Anonymous said...

After reading the last Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl is a lot better.
I like how in the books Artemis learns how to care for other people besides himself.
And besides if Harry Potter ever met up with Artemis, Artemis would kick his butt.