Author: Eoin Colfer
277 Pages—Ages 10 and up
Published by: Viking Press
Summary (from amazon.com):
Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius-and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn’t know what he’s taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren’t the fairies of bedtime stories; these fairies are armed and dangerous.
Artemis thinks he has them right where he wants them but then they stop playing by the rules.
My interest in this book series stems from the fact that my younger brother used to be a fan when he was younger. I never gave it a try because it was a weird concept to me: having the protagonist of the story be a villain (really more like an anti-hero, but I didn’t know that at the time). Now, after all these years, I’m finally curious to see what it is all about. Although today there are many movies and books where the protagonist isn’t a hero (see Megamind and Despicable Me), Eion Colfer’s Artemis Fowl is the first kind of book I had ever heard in my youth where it wasn’t all about the good guys.
Due to the fact that my brother loved these books in his youth, I have extremely high expectations for them. I won’t even bother speculating what happens because as far as I’m concerned this book is going to have it all: humor, action, adventure, great character development, wonderful setting, and blended worlds. I know that I am pretty much expecting the impossible, but there is something about nostalgia which makes you do that. Even though I have never read the book (until now that is) I still get a sentimental feeling when thinking about it. And even more surprising, I don’t think that this book is going to disappoint.
Let me start out by defining what an anti-hero and a villain are and the difference between them. An anti-hero is a hero that has a darker side. So an anti-hero may use questionable methods to get to his end goal, but usually his end goal is sympathetic to the audience in some way (for example, vengeance or trying to restore balance to the world). A villain also uses questionable or just downright nasty methods to get what he wants and usually what he wants isn’t sympathetic in any way to the audience (for example, power for the sake of power or causing mayhem because they are bored–see Izaya Orihara from Durarara!!).
Now that we know the difference, you know how in my pre-review I said that Artemis was an anti-hero? I was wrong. In this story he is the straight out villain (I guess it depends on perspective really, but he didn’t even have any good intentions). He lies, cheats, and steals to get what he wants (and what he wants isn’t sympathetic until you read the other stories). The whole idea behind the plot is that he wants to restore his families billionaire status by stealing (or really randomizing) a large stash of gold from faeries that live underground by kidnapping one of their people. No good intentions there.
Even with the idea that Artemis was a villain character (at least in this installment of the series), I loved the book and what’s more I actually loved Artemis as well. I thought that he was a well written character who despite being a villain still possessed characteristics such as remorse and guilt. Actually, Artemis kind of reminds me of Ciel Phantomhive from Black Butler. They are both young geniuses and they both use questionable methods to get what they want. Ciel Phantomhive seems a little more violent and less remorseful then Artemis, but in many respects they are extremely similar.
Artemis is by far an immensely complex character. As I mentioned before he feels guilt and remorse throughout the story (mostly at the end) over things like hurting the fairies when they were so human looking. In fact, toward the end of the book Butler and Artemis have a discussion on it:
Butler: “Yes, Artemis. All is forgiven. Just one thing…”
Butler: “Never again. Fairies are too…human.”
Artemis: “You’re right,’ said Artemis, the crow’s feet deepening around his eyes. ‘Never again. We shall restrict ourselves to more tasteful ventures in the future. Legal, I can’t promise.'”
In addition to that, Artemis’ childish nature makes occasional appearances which adds layers to his character and also sets him up to eventually become the anti-hero/hero in the other books. For example, when Holly makes fun of Artemis’ age and tells him that she will bring him a lollipop if he behaves, the only thing that he can think of is that he doesn’t like lollipops and he immediately chastised himself for thinking that.
Even though I have extremely high expectations for this book, I was not disappointed with it in any way. I can’t even think of one thing that would have made this book any better than it already was and I highly recommend it. This first story sets up the stage for the other installments in the series and I can’t wait until I pick up the next book!