How powerful could a 12-year-old be? Would he be able to outwit a military force, especially ones that are staffed by leprechauns? In Eoin Colfer's book Artemis Fowl the first of a lengthy fantasy series, readers are introduced to Artemis Fowl a young man focused from the first page on regaining his family wealth, and finding his father. Whereas other children’s book series focused on innocent good kids who were trying to be the best in the world, Artemis only cares about what’s best for him.
Starting off in Vietnam with his trusted butler, chauffeur, and bodyguard aptly named Butler, the story places us right in the action from the first page. With the help of Butler, Fowl has learned that magical creatures like fairies are real and has located a cast-off fairy on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. Playing on the weakness of the fairy in Vietnam, Artemis obtains a copy of a secret book about life and the rituals of the fairy world, which happens to be deep beneath the earth.
In Colfer’s literary world, beneath the human's live trolls and fairy's. The best of the best of the fairy's train to be in the LEPrecon Special Forces. This elite group of soldiers works constantly at separating all magical beings from the 'mudpeople' or humans. Since Artemis knows the secrets of the fairy’s thanks to his actions in the first chapter, the young genius has hatched a plan to gain his family fortune back by extorting it from the fairies.
Artemis and Butler capture one member of the LEPrecon Special Forces, Holly Short. He holds her hostage in the Fowl Manor, which then leads to a battle of wills between the retrieval forces sent by Short's commanding officer Root.
Ultimately, Fowl is successful, Short is saved, but Artemis Fowl’s story is only beginning.
I never doubted that this book would be enjoyable. From the first chapter in Vietnam, I was hooked and wanted to know how it would end. I couldn't imagine the layers of story that was within this 275-page book.
On the surface, Artemis Fowl is a basic story of a young boy who lost his father and is watching his mother disappear into dementia. He is trying to right that wrong through any means necessary, even if it’s not legal.
Artemis is not a squeaky clean innocent kid. The first comparison any reader would make is the Harry Potter or Percy Jackson series. Artemis Fowl has magical creatures like Mr. Potter and Jackson, and the characters are roughly the same age at the start of their series, but the similarities end there. Artemis is not a hero, he's the anti-hero.
Colfer has managed to create a young man who is brilliant, willing to do bad things to achieve his goals, but ultimately leaves room for growth in Artemis. Yes, Artemis does kidnap Holly Short, and he does manipulate a desperate pathetic fairy at the start of the story. Certainly, the extortion of the money from the fairy's and the risk he puts everyone at to gain the money he wants, are all questionable character traits. But this is a boy, who has no parental figure and has a lot of money at his disposal. Being unsupervised, super rich, and a genius can result in some negative early development.
His trusted chauffer Butler is not his father. He is only an employee who is good at fighting and defending Artemis, but he has no way to influence the boy. Butler comes from a long line in his family, which served the Fowl family for centuries. Butler is a man who follows his role, with little deviation.
Holly Short is interesting because she is the one character in the whole story who always shows compassion. Whether it was protecting Butler’s sister Juliet, saving Butler from death, or having empathy for Artemis and granting him his wish. Short is the moral conscience that so many others in the book lack. I like her a lot and look forward to seeing how she influences Artemis is the books to come.
If you are looking for a grand adventure, then Artemis Fowl is the book to read.