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Artemis Fowl Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 2, 2001
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Eoin Colfer describes his new book, Artemis Fowl, as "Die Hard with fairies." He's not far wrong.
Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is the most ingenious criminal mastermind in history. With two trusty sidekicks in tow, he hatches a cunning plot to divest the fairyfolk of their pot of gold. Of course, he isn't foolish enough to believe in all that "gold at the end of the rainbow" nonsense. Rather, he knows that the only way to separate the little people from their stash is to kidnap one of them and wait for the ransom to arrive. But when the time comes to put his plan into action, he doesn't count on the appearance of the extrasmall, pointy-eared Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon (Lower Elements Police Reconnaisance) Unit--and her senior officer, Commander Root, a man (sorry, elf) who will stop at nothing to get her back.
Fantastic stuff from beginning to end, Artemis Fowl is a rip-roaring, 21st-century romp of the highest order. The author has let his imagination run riot by combining folklore, fantasy, and a fistful of high-tech funk in an outrageously devilish book that could well do for fairies what Harry Potter has done for wizardry. But be warned: this is no gentle frolic, so don't be fooled by the fairy subject matter. Instead, what we have here is well-written, sophisticated, rough 'n' tumble storytelling with enough high-octane attitude to make it a seriously cool read for anyone over the age of 10. --Susan Harrison
From Publishers Weekly
Colfer's (Benny and Omar) crime caper fantasy, the first in a series, starts off with a slam-bang premise: anti-hero Artemis Fowl is a boy-genius last in line of a legendary crime family teetering on the brink of destruction. With the assistance of his bodyguard, Butler, he masterminds his plan to regain the Fowls' former glory: capture a fairy and hold her ransom for the legendary fairy gold. However, his feisty mark, Holly, turns out to be a member of the "LEPrecon, an elite branch of the Lower Elements Police," so a wisecracking team of satyrs, trolls, dwarfs and fellow fairies set out to rescue her. Despite numerous clever gadgets and an innovative take on traditional fairy lore, the author falls short of the bar. The rapid-fire dialogue may work as a screenplay with the aid of visual effects (a film is due out from Talk/Miramax in 2002) but, on the page, it often falls flat. The narrative hops from character to character, so readers intrigued by Artemis's wily, autocratic personality have to kill a good deal of time with the relatively bland Holly and her cohorts [...]. Technology buffs may appreciate the imaginative fairy-world inventions and action-lovers will get some kicks, but the series is no classic in the making. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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If ever there was a book series that could be used to introduce the concept of “anti-hero” to a middle grade audience, it is Artemis Fowl (or, you know, my novella Anchihiiroo – Origin of an Antihero, but I digress). Artemis Fowl II, in the debut book of this series, is the very definition of someone willing to do anything it takes (even a little kidnapping and ransom-demanding) for what is ultimately a good cause (trying to save his mother). One of my favorite things about this series is that Artemis, being a genius, has a very large vocabulary. The diction in this book is a lot more advanced and complex than many other middle grade books and I personally used it as a benchmark in my own writing for not talking down to a young audience (which I find many, many middle grade and even young adult books do). Colfer has found that great sweet spot to challenge young readers without dismissing their capabilities.
That being said, the story is a simple one that is very easy and fun to follow. The basic frame of the story follows the “heist” format. There are twists and turns and plans on top of plans. Sometimes they work and sometimes they fail. Sometimes they seem to fail but end up working (think of a fairy tale version of Ocean’s 11). Apparently Colfer himself has referred to it as “Die Hard with fairies” with which I can’t argue. Colfer has created his own sub-society of magical fairy creatures that presents the underlying mystery and magic to the series. At the same time, Artemis is a regular (well, as regular as a multi-millionaire genius pre-teen with a bit of an evil mastermind complex can be) human kid who breaks open the mysteries of this underworld.
When I first discovered this series years ago, I was excited to find a middle grade series that had a protagonist that wasn’t your bubbly “chosen one” stereotype. Artemis, due to his intelligence and resources, is way deeper and more complex than your typical middle grade hero. That alone is worth a read. Couple that with a fun and colorful underworld full of faeries, gnomes, and other supernatural beings and it’s a can’t-miss.
This book is more than appropriate for the youngest of readers. Any violence is cartoonish in nature, for the most part. There are no language or sexual content concerns either.
As the series goes on, there are points that get a little darker, but never does Colfer waver from the PG family friendly nature of this first book.
As an aside: there is also a wonderful graphic novel adaptation of this first book that can serve to help a struggling reader or a reader who might need a little more visual aides (or just someone who really likes graphic novels!).
5/5 Giant Cartoon Mallets from Toonopolis, The Blog's Books for Boys Review
I do wish there had been some formatting differences for the rather frequent point-of-view shifts. Sometimes there was no indicator, such as spacing, asterisks, a divider, etc. There was a lot of "gross-out" content. I really grew a little weary of the dwarf and his flapped trousers... For parents, there is a bit of light swearing consisting of mostly "damn" and "hell" (and a few made-up and implied explicitive phrases). Some may be concerned about the death of a rabbit at the hands of the flap-trousered dwarf.
Overall, this was an entertaining read. I will likely be "back" for book two, once I've cleared up some of my Kindle slush-pile. I don't regret re-purchasing this in Kindle format, at least, it filled a few sessions of light reading for a few days.
I began homeschooling my own son when he started 4th grade, and this is one of the first books I added to our home library. I read it, loved it, and proceeded to buy the rest of the published books. My son and my daughter both read all of these books, back to back, and now my grandson has started the series!
It's perfect for those who enjoy fantasy. Artemis is an incredibly smart boy whose father was killed when Artemis was much younger. Artemis' mother is emotionally devastated and spends much time by herself, leaving Artemis to his own devices. And while this is sad for Artemis, it's not overdone or depressing. It also makes him a fantastic character that kids become completely invested in.
If you have a child, or know of one, who is always thinking, always wanting to experiment... a kid with a vivid imagination who's just too clever for their own good, this is a fantastic book for them. Heck, it's good for anyone who loves a reading adventure!