Artemis Fowl (Eoin Colfer)Posted: September 21, 2012
I have some history with this book. (Like how I thought Maximum Ride was about a boy on a roller coaster for no apparent reason until I actually picked it up.) When I was really young, my mom would give me books to read, and I’d usually give her some equivalent of a negative-sounding “Hrmph.” Most of these books I reread at a later date and liked better. I could read them when I was young, but I didn’t like them.
Artemis Fowl is about a genius, the millionaire criminal mastermind of the same name (to quote Charles Dickens, “the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this [post]”), and potential thief of fairy gold. He has discovered something hidden for ages: the fairies were kicked off their land by humans and have retreated underground, where they can be safe. Artemis Fowl wants to capture one and take its ransom gold. He thinks he’s prepared. But he isn’t quite ready for Holly Short, the first female LEPrecon (fairy police officer) ever. These fairies are real. And it’s possible they’re prepared even for Artemis.
My initial impression was, Great, a really annoying male hero who’s rude and unfriendly, and an underground fairy culture that’s supposed to be years ahead of humanity, yet still hasn’t managed to have a single female police officer. I put it down.
But recently I picked it up again and I was blown away (if I gave credit to Sophie every time she made me read something, you’d get bored of the repetition, but here I must). Yes, there is that little issue of fairies having more sexism than humans, but honestly, it’s an amazing story of one boy with too many brains dealing with being human, and a bunch of hidden fairies dealing with being not (human).
And I loved it.
OK, I don’t know if it’s something to do with being Irish (I’ve seen multiple books with Irish authors who do this), but the author, Eoin Colfer, writes weirdly (in my opinion). His punctuation is messed up and, because of the font he uses, it looks worse than it is (don’t ask me how THAT works). However, it’s really mostly distracting in retrospect. That’s the technical aspect. In terms of description, etc., he doesn’t go overboard and does not use flowery language. In fact, he often utilizes clichés.
But here’s my rating system’s weakness. See, there’s the technical piece (grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.), and there’s the descriptive piece. These things do matter. It’s important that you’re technically correct, and that you write elegantly. However…some authors don’t, and they still manage to produce a wonder. Mr. Colfer writes for children (I think Artemis Fowl is supposed to be for the 3rd-7th grade level, approximately; but since when should you care?), which I think many people regard as an excuse to allow slack in regard to these types of errors, the thought being that children won’t notice. People tend to ignore the fact that most adults won’t notice, anyway. The point is, Artemis Fowl is written really well. The characters are portrayed well, the scenes are portrayed well, reactions are portrayed well, the plots are portrayed well—what’s the goal of a writer? To make you feel like you’re there. To make you stay up into 3am finishing the book. To make you call “One second!” when you’re summoned while reading—and have that “one second” become half an hour (or until you’re caught out, whichever comes first). Mr. Colfer might not have the technical perfection that makes me comfortable, and he might not go overboard in terms of metaphors or descriptions. Yet I’m inclined to give this a 5/5 anyway.
The plot is strong and unpredictable. It’s at times touching and at others vaguely confusing, but it always makes sense eventually. There’s more loss than you would expect. Don’t think nobody is going to die. Don’t think somebody will. I’m just putting it out there that magic works in weird ways, and, therefore, the book might end with something that looks unsolvable. You know what? 6/5.
Mm…OK, here’s the problem. I personally, as I read the books, didn’t find any specific issues. But this is why I don’t make much sense: I write reviews, but I really don’t think people should read reviews. I’d write a list of books and say, “READ THESE.” But you wouldn’t, so here we have it (and you could just look at the titles of the posts, anyway). The problem about reviews is that I have to tell you what it’s about. Have you ever read a book without having any idea what happens in it? Try it sometime; it’s much more satisfying. (Yes, then you don’t know whether or not you’ll like it, but it’s still more satisfying, in my opinion.) I also end up, whether I want to or not, influencing your opinions. If I say “THIS IS THE BEST BOOK IN THE WORLD” (…*cough*…), you’ll probably be slightly more inclined to think that it’s amazing, and vice versa. Actually, if you read something I rate badly you’ll probably notice it twice as much, because I’ve pointed it out.
I saw shallowness in the characters at times, and cliché, but before I read these books I read a few reviews, and they said that the characters would have shallowness and cliché, so I found it. It’s entirely possible that it never really existed in the first place.
The characters can get predictable (except for Artemis Fowl, because he’s supposed to be smarter than you are. But even he gets predictable). When they aren’t, it’s occasionally annoying—I mean, sometimes they act totally out of character for no apparent reason. Also, they’re sort of stereotyped in ways. There is huge development, but it leaves you wondering, Is this too much development to be realistic?
See? Evil Magical Dubiousness of Doom. Nuh-uh. This is No Good.
The characters, however, are important, lovable, hatable, real. They’re smart, witty, funny, and sad. They’re creative and quick. They make you ache, laugh, and smile indulgently. They make you nod knowingly and/or sigh. (Sometimes the sighs come from them not acting “right,” i.e. what they would if this were “real,” but honestly, I don’t think that’s too often.)
The important thing is that I wanted to meet these characters. That’s really what matters. So I’ll give 4/5 and don’t look for where that extra point went. You’ll regret it.
Je Ne C’est Quois
I think I messed up the order a little. I’m sorry. I’ve been busy. READING. But I am back! So, we will now continue, as you have so delightfully been doing, to ignore the messed up order (however it messed itself up), and proceed to Je Ne C’est Quois, which I believe I have already established to land on an unfair 6/5.
P.S. I think it’s really popular but it’s still really good, and I think you’ve been under the impression that “Bling” won’t be good, so it landed in Obscure Gems as well. I know that defeats the purpose of the categories. You should know by now that I don’t make sense. 😉
P.P.S. An Explanation of Tags
Child thieving: He’s a criminal mastermind. But he isn’t an orphan grabbing things from street vendors, he’s an international embezzler. Yeah.
Environment: The fairies are partly underground and hiding because humans have messed up the earth’s environment, so there are a lot of semi-subliminal messages about how we shouldn’t mess up the earth.
Magic that’s really science: There’s magic, and there’s science, and there’s magical science. So the magic isn’t really science, but the legendary fairy magic is partially technological achievement.
On the run: …uh…criminal mastermind…someone’s got to be chasing him.
Orphans: His father may or may not be dead, and his mother’s sort of out of the picture in a way that doesn’t totally make sense but sort of does. They both make sporadic appearances as Artemis falls into and out of the time stream, does weird things, and comes back home. He’s not an orphan, but his parents really don’t have anything to do with what he does with his life. Or about much of anything he wants, really.
War: It’s entirely possible that there may be a war between fairies and humans. I mean, we kicked them out of their homes. And Artemis kidnapped one of them. And Artemis is the only human they’ve spoken to in a long time. And he’s a jerk.
Photographic memory & genius: He’s a genius….
I believe that’s that 🙂