The prologue is a psychological assessment from the ‘teenage years’ of Master Artemis Fowl, the 13 year old genius criminal mastermind who happens to be the main protagonist of this book. Reading the first two pages was enough to make me very excited about a book that promises goblin sightings, fairy technology, and a genius multimillionaire pubertal boy.
And the But Kicks In…
However, I found my thoughts drifting away from the text several chapters into the book. Perhaps it didn’t help that this is the second of the Artemis Fowl trilogy and there were a lot of allusions about the first book that I know virtually nothing about. I would have preferred a greater exploration into Fowl’s psyche – which is what was promised at the prologue with a supposed ‘psychological assessment’ of the boy. Instead, what followed was a series of adventures, or misadventures, one after the other. He only had two sessions with his psychologist: the first one found in the beginning of the book, the second one during the last two pages. Of course I wasn’t expecting a 22-paged psychobabble that dealt with his anxieties or unresolved oedipal conflicts, it’s just that Artemis Fowl didn’t become real to me at all.
The book was action-packed alright, from the first page down to its 277th page. I have a feeling that this story would soon be in the big screen and I am more than certain that children and adults alike would love it, given all of Artemis’ escapades.
Thing is, I get lost whenever there are detailed accounts of people jumping off bridges, being nearly saved but not quite, hence a counter strategy would have to be conceived of at the last moment, then an entirely new narrative would be devoted solely to that counter plan. It’s just way too complicated, it doesn’t suit well with me. I have no problem with Colfer’s narrative style. Except for the fairy jargon and the entirely new technology that he introduces into the book complete with all its new techie names – the writing is witty and playful with a touch of the mischievous and the disgustingly grotesque. Perfect for kids and adults who are kids at heart really, except that it was just way too overboard for me. Might be of interest though to a lot of high ability learners/gifted students – teachers could likewise explore moral and social issues and responsibility alongside dealing with and accepting one’s brilliance/talent.
The Son rescues the Father with his Motley Crew
The entire story is built on Artemis Fowl Junior’s clever attempts to rescue his father from the Russian Mafiya who has held him hostage in the Arctic. And for Artemis to successfully carry out his schemes, he needed to tie up with the people whom he has messed with on the first book: the foxy, dexterous and beautiful fairy Captain Holly Short whom I believe he has kidnapped in the first book – and where he got his fairy gold treasure nuggets from; Commander Julius Root with the blasted “D’arvits!” which I assume is fairy-speak for Damnit; the brilliant centaur Foaly; and the repugnant master-thief Mulch Diggums with the vile and nauseating dwarf-farts whom everyone thought was dead, but was actually stealing Oscar trophies (yes, as in the Academy-Oscar) from actresses, directors, and screen play writers. Not to forget, of course, the indomitable presence of Butler, Fowl’s ever-dependable bodyguard.
Apparently, this is the first time that Fowl Junior had to be a team player, since allusions to the first book indicate that he prefers to work alone. However, it appears that fairy techonology is universes better than human gadgetry, and for that alone he needed help. However, his assistance was also required since the underground world was likewise in deep dung, since Briar Cudgeon, the demoted LEP officer (again because of what happened in the first book) had a vendetta to pursue and he found a powerful partner in the presence of Opal Koboi, who is also a techie wizard next to Foaly. But as all quests and adventures go, the evil partners are unwilling to share the seat of power (absolute power corrupts… yes absolutely, since we are playing trite here) and they end up blasting each other, after they have cannon-blasted off their goblin minions who were depicted to be mindless idiots in addition to their being repulsive.
Yet, the love Artemis Junior feels towards his father is lost with all the jampacked action devoted to each page of the book. It came as an afterthought really. His one-minute meltdown after he found out his father was alive and was saved by Captain Holly encapsulated all of his feelings towards his dad.
Source of my Discontent
Perhaps what made me displeased about the entire narrative is the fact that the characters were mere sketches to me. They did not jump out of the book, but were simply flying, kicking, LEP-gun-toting creatures battling goblins and evil plotters (LEP being Lower Elements Police). They were two-dimensional, flat jigsaw pieces. While I was intrigued by Fowl’s genius, it didn’t really shine through in the book, though admittedly, his devious plan to save his father in the end was daring, risky, and ultimately successful.
Captain Holly Short’s character, I believe, could have been better explored as well. She seems spunky, defiant, and seemingly like the female version of Jack Bauer – darn the rules so long as she is successful in her tactical operations. Even Butler appears to have a colorful past that was mentioned in tidbits here and there, but not enough for one to form an affinity or even a connection with the giant tree of a bodyguard.
I have just received the first Artemis Fowl book I have ordered from ebay. I don’t know if my conceptions would be revised somehow after I read the first book. It IS kind of odd that I read the second book before the first one, but I have done the same thing with Stargirl and Love, Stargirl. Well, we’ll see. I suppose Anais Nin’s A Spy in the House of Love would have to wait for a bit longer.