Author: Eoin Colfer
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publishing Date: June 1, 2009
I decided to pick up this novel because I’ve recently found myself drawn to middle-grade reads, and the cover seemed very interesting! It had a pre-teen double O-7 feel to it. Once I read the synopsis, the idea of a 12-year-old genius villain really enthralled me, and when they mentioned the kidnapping of a fairy, my interest had peaked.
One of the things that really made this novel great for me was the amount of detail Colfer used when writing. The images were painted very clearly in my head, and I could honestly see everything. Now, everyone knows that little things go a long way in novels, and one of Colfer’s strengths is his use of police jargon. I really loved the banter, and the use of terms that I grew up hearing in all of the police shows that I watched. Colfer was also careful to explain why things worked a certain way in Fowl’s world (i.e. the use of a Butler, etc)
Though I enjoyed much of the novel, I did find myself cringing at certain parts, and questioning who would someone cast this as a “middle-grade read,” which is defined as ages 8-12 years old and is intended to have appropriate content for the said age range. Personally, I think this book is inappropriate for anyone under the age of 10. There is “graphic” violence, grossly depicted use of excrement, and other things that make this book seem as if its target audience was 10 to 12-year-old boys. Add in a few minor curse words, and some innuendos to even more curse words, and you’ve got a novel that’s better suited for the Young Adult genre. Parts of the novel did feel drug out, as well, leaving me to push through and force myself to keep reading at times. I have heard from many people, however, that the second book in this series picks up in pace and makes it much easier to read.
On the bright side, though, Colfer writes his characters beautifully! The characters inside this novel were well-developed and well-rounded. None of them felt flat or ignored. One character, in particular, Mulch Diggums, didn’t receive a lot of development, but I honestly believe that’s because he didn’t get a lot of “face-time” in the book. With the little interaction that I had with him, I was disgusted the entire time, you’ll understand once you read it for yourslef. We also meet one Captain Holly Short, who experiences several different phases of emotions and thought processes throughout the novel, and the shifts in these emotions and thought processes are placed perfectly. She has her fair share of flaws in the beginning, with being lazy, and she starts with a victim mentality. Eventually, once she understands why her superior is a bit harder towards her than he is to anyone else, she realizes she needs to step up to the plate and become a responsible LEP-Recon officer. There’s also Captain Root, your stereotypical hot-headed officer, who is old-fashioned and set in his ways, but by the end of the novel, even he begins to soften, and it’s quite a beautiful site. Lastly, from the “good-guy” side, we have Foaly. Foaly is a paranoid Centaur and is your go-to if you need a joke, some sarcasm, or some form of humorous harassment. He’s brilliant and knows his way around the technological world as if he himself created it all, (and in some ways he did). Between his brains and his humor, he’s easily my favorite character.
Over on the “dark side”, we meet Butler, an immovable man-servant/assassin, and though he has a hard exterior, he has cracks in his armor. We get to see that above all duties, family comes first for him and that honestly warms my heart. Butler has a sister, Juliet, who throughout the entire novel, she pretty much remains innocent. There’s little character development on her end, but she primarily remains a “supporting” character. Along with the innocence of Juliet, we also have Mrs. Fowl, who, since the loss of her husband, has retreated into the shell of her mind, presenting behaviors similar to bipolar dementia. Lastly, we have the infamous Artemis Fowl, who is pretty much evil to his core. Between his witty comments and evil deeds, we do see moments where the “evil-genius” mask slips and we see that he’s still a 12-year-old boy. Colfer did a great job ensuring that we get to know each character on a personal level.
I spent a lot of time laughing with the characters in this book, a lot of time frustrated with Artemis, and the adults in his life, and I spent a lot of time determined to reach the end so that I could get to book two. My journey with Captain Short had me wanting to sit down and have a serious conversation with her about her poor behavior initially, and then towards the end, I developed some respect for her and found myself admiring her as an officer. My time with Captain Root honestly made me want to give him a prescription for blood pressure medicine because he has one hell of a temper. Throughout the entire novel, Foaly honestly made me want to be his best friend. He was pretty much my idol in this book. The only time I found myself conflicted in this novel was with Butler, because his duties kept him bound from holding to his moral standards, and that broke my heart. I truly appreciate the experiences I had with each of these characters.
I gave this book a PG-10 rating because I really don’t think some of the material is appropriate for readers under the age of 10-years-old. Between the violence, and the minor language, I personally wouldn’t want my eight-year-old to read it. A novel about good vs. evil, overcoming the odds, and a war between The People and the Fae, this book was genuinely good read.
“Confidence is ignorance,” advised the centaur. “If you’re feeling cocky, it’s because there’s something you don’t know.” – Foaly
“Passion was the enemy of efficiency.” – Butler
“If I win, I’m a prodigy. If I lose, then I’m crazy. That’s the way history is written.” – Artemis Fowl
“I’m right there with you, darlin’. Unless you step on a landmine, in which case I’m way back in the Operations Room.” – Foaly
“Hit that back-stabber where it hurts, right in the ambition.” – Foaly