N_amandascholz's Reviews > Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
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Oct 19, 2010

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bookshelves: fantasy-sci-fi, series-book
Read from October 11 to 19, 2010

Artemis Fowl is the only child in the current generation of a centuries old criminal family. The twelve-year old anti-hero is a genius, using his prodigious talents for nefarious deeds, primarily the restoration of his family fortune. Artemis' father, lost and presumed dead, risked the family's wealth on an attempt to remove a piece of business from the Russian Mafia. Now fatherless and, essentially motherless (Artemis' mother in her grief over the disappearance of her husband has broken down mentally and physically), Artemis hatches a plan to steal the Book, the tome that every fairy carries with him/her that details magic and the rules governing the use of that magic. Armed with this information, Artemis locates a fairy to kidnap and hold for ransom, a quick way to replenish his family's gold. Artemis is supported in his adventures by his loyal man-servant Butler and Butler's younger sister. The book combines elements of fantasy, traditional folktales, science fiction, crime-fiction, and spy stories.
I know that this book has been and continues to be tremendously popular, yet I did not entirely enjoy it. I was impressed by the world Eoin Colfer created; his details of the underground city populated by fairies and sprites is ingenious and imaginative. He often drops in hints about how insignificant figures or places in this installment will become important in later books in the series. He endows his characters with personalities and interior lives, especially the book's hero, Holly Short, the fairy that Artemis manages to kidnap.
I did not like, though, the book's main character, Artemis. I found him cold and unfeeling, and the reasons for this personality were not well-explained or well-developed; therefore, I had a hard time spending time with him. I suppose his arrogance comes from his intelligence, lack of adult authority figures, and his family's history. I just felt that Artemis' assumptions about his "superiority" and his "genius" were never questioned. In other words, the text never got to a point of self-reflection or crisis that would ask the young man to think about the consequences of his actions and/or the treatment of other people, especially his immensely loyal servant. Perhaps the later books do present opportunities for such reflection. To me - a really "good" book should make me look in the mirror and question myself and my world. Artemis Fowl did not ask me to do that. Now -- one could argue that the book is just for fun, and, in that case, it is great fun. Yet, as I have in class, I wonder about the implicit messages about the world that a book sends to its readers.
At the close of the book, I do gain some sympathy for Artemis based on the wish that he asks of the fairies. However, the wish comes out of nowhere for me. In other words, Artemis' characterization up to this point does not lead to that wish and the conclusion puzzles me instead of leaves me with any sense of satisfaction, whether about the resolution of plot or the emergence of a particular question.
I can see why many middle-school students love this book. I am not twelve anymore, but the book did not remind me of what I thought or felt at twelve either.
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