Artemis Fowl : Better than Harry Potter. No, Really.
I didn’t read Artemis Fowl when it first came out, years ago, because some evil person told me it was a Harry Potter cash-in novel. I must work out who they are, so that I can post them rotten fruit. Of course it was nine years ago, and there won’t be a note to say why I’ve done it, or who I am, so as revenge goes it’ll look a bit random, but really, some people deserve a decaying custard apple in their mailbox, and so in quest of natural justice, I’ll wrack my brains to see who merits it.
This children’s series is just excellent. The plots are well designed. The characters grow and change. The stories have action and humor. They don’t talk down to a young audience. They don’t rush, like the last Harry novel, or play silly games with the readers, like the random deaths in HP6. They have been edited properly, and so are not the size of a housebrick. Frankly, they are fantastically good. I particularly like them in audiobook, and if you’re one of our members, we have the whole lot available for free through OverDrive. The reader is very good at characterisation by voice.
So, on to plot: Artemis Fowl II is a genius, and a criminal mastermind. He’s also a twelve year old Irish boy. At the start of the first book, we find Artemis has a plan to revive his family’s fortunes. His father is missing, and the Fowls are almost broke, so the newest scion of the family decides he’s going to kidnap a leprechaun. The faeries in this series are a cluster of technologically advanced, subterranean races, whose laws are kept by the Lower Elements Police. When LEP Recon officer Holly Sharp is taken prisoner, she needs to use her professional skills and advanced technology to bring the prodigal to justice.
In later books in the series Artemis and the LEP work together to save the faerie peoples from human discovery, from various megalomaniacs, and from a few villains who have perfectly understandable motives. Artemis grows up through the series, although he can never quite shake off the idea that being a criminal mastermind is almost a duty for a Fowl. Eoin Colfer also has a strong environmental message in the books. Artemis is free to be a villain at times, against people who clearly deserve it. He is the lesser evil which opposes greater evils.
The supporting characters really make the series: Holly and Artemis are the leads, but the other members of the LEP give the story heart and humor. Artemis’s family are served by the Butlers, who have been their bodyguards for generations. Butler, Artemis’s bodyguard, provides the action scenes and some of the darker jokes. Some of the villains are pure parodies, and some want to take over the world (as villains so often, and so inarticulately, do) but some of the villains rise above this sort of comic bookery.
I’m an omnivorous reader, but I’m fussy with it: I’ll read or listen to pretty much anything, but not be all that impressed by a lot of it afterwards. This series though, is an exception. It may be in the junior section of the library, but I’d recommend this series for people who like light fantasy novels. I also strongly recommend it for people who like audiobooks, because the read of this series is just great. His role requires both male and female voices, young and old, and in a variety of accents, and he manages to make each distinct.