Monday, 3 June 2013

Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer

This book sits firmly in the Young Adult classics cannon, and it is for that reason that I made sure to read my school's shiny new copy before it went on the shelf- just in case I needed to recommend it a lot. 

I was surprised by how different this book was to what I expected it to be.  I knew through book osmosis that Artemis Fowl was some sort of globe-trotting adventurer millionaire, but I was expecting an Indianna Jones meets Sheldon Cooper eccentric genius character, not the micro-Moriarty slash Tony Stark of this book.  The fairy plot sort of took me by surprise too- expected it (inexplicably) to be much more real world based.

The story centres on 12 year old Artemis Fowl, latest in a long family line of career criminals, and his bodyguard come companion Butler.  Artemis has cooked up a plan to obtain millions of pound's worth of fairy gold.  Not really because he needs the money, but just to prove that he can - the gold is a secret that the fairies have managed to keep concealed from the 'Mud People' for millennia.  We're not talking pots of gold at the end of the rainbow, it's good old fashioned ransom money.  When Atremis kidnaps one of the Fairy underworld's prestigious LEPrecon operatives, the fairies are forced to use all the magic, tricks and weaponry that their fairy fingers have developed over the years, and all the technology that their misanthropic centaur tech-support can devise.

It's a strange experience reading a book where the main character is the antagonist...Artemis is engaging as a character, he's obviously wildly intelligent and there are cracks in his criminal mastermind veneer that prove that he's not the cold hearted robot that he likes to think he is.  However it's impossible to warm to him as a character.  The fairy squadron on the other hand, are funny, resourceful, full of life, conversation and resolve.  They're definitely more like real people than Artemis is.

Overall, a book that's full of action, technology and humour.  A few genuine laughs in this story, and some really clever pieces of writing.  The way Colfer blends our real-world understanding of fairy mythology with the carefully cultivated cover story of the Fairy people in this book is brilliant.  A good YA heist novel that I can understand the appeal of and which I enjoyed, despite it being a lot different to what I was expecting.  I would recommend this to competent readers that are a bit bored of their normal book choices, possibly as a bit of a wild card to gauge their interest generally in the action/adventure/fantasy genre.  The book might also have appeal to anybody with an interest in characters with Asperger's or Autism, seeing as Artemis displays many traits associated with those conditions.  Kids that have read a lot of Beast Quest might enjoy it, and it could offer something different to those who read a lot of stories featuring mythical creatures.  Just in case Fairies become the new Vampires...

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