Thursday, 3 September 2015

Return to Fowl Manor

Years ago, while I was still studying, I stumbled over a book, a paperback bound in glittery gold with a two-word title: “Artemis Fowl.” I was curious and the strange symbols at the bottom of each page made me even more curious. I bought the book, I read the story, I translated the secret message at the bottom. I was caught.

The cover didn’t show much, just a name. There was no impressive picture of what awaited me inside, there was no scene from the story depicted, no portrait of said Artemis Fowl. Just a name on a glittery background.
I followed the series up to book six (of eight), but “The Time Paradox” put me off a little. With the time travel, there was something difficult coming into it. Not difficult to stomach, a similar topic had been part of “The Lost Colony” (book five) already. Difficult to include into the story. Suddenly, there was someone going back in time to change history. Someone coming into the future from their own time. Things were getting messy and I stopped following the story. I shouldn’t have, as I learned today, when I finished my reread of the series.
I was, unknowingly, standing at a precipice, right above the exhilarating fall of the last two books (“The Atlantis Complex” and “The Last Guardian”), which are very close together in their story.

After rereading the books during the last few days (they are, technically YA, after all, so not that long), I realize that the story has been tied up very nicely in the last book (the only thing I still wonder about is what happened to Minerva). I realize which amazing change meeting the fairies and working with them has inflicted on the criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl.

The books are not without a body-count. Several characters, including some who have been at the core of the stories, die throughout the eight novels. There’s a lot of danger awaiting the not-so-heroic hero of the novels, one Artemis Fowl II, descendant of generations of criminals and villains. There are those who want to hurt him, those who see him as evil incarnated (though not necessarily for long). But there’s also the most unlikely friendships blooming. There’s expanding family, too.

What I liked most from the beginning is the main character. Admittedly, he is a ‘typical’ boy genius in many ways, with the typical way of talking and the typical mannerisms (most obviously: acting far too old for his actual age). Barry Ween is much less of a typical one. But Artemis has style. And he’s a criminal genius, so there’s heists to be had.
Eoin Colfer, the author, also made sure to give Artemis the weaknesses a main character needs to balance out his strengths. Artemis is not very fit, not a good runner and certainly not a fighter. His coordination is definitely sub-par. He can’t really connect to other people, either.
Artemis grows a lot during the stories, from book to book, there’s a definite change. The twelve-year-old who decides to kidnap a fairy is not the really fifteen-year-old (and technically eighteen-year-old, due to the time shift in “The Lost Colony”) who stops the eradication of mankind at all costs.

There’s also a huge host of additional characters, from Holly Short, Artemis’ abduction victim in the first novel (who turns into a friend later on), over the centaur Foley and LEP-Commander Julius Root (LEP is short for Lower Elements Police, the police force of the fairy world), to villains like Opal Koboi.

Technically, the “Artemis Fowl” series is written for Young Adults, but adults can have a lot of fun with the books, too. Just don’t judge it by “The Time Paradox,” there’s better stuff to come afterwards.

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