Reviews: Artemis Fowl

A Loss of Potential

Artemis Fowl started off really well. I loved it when I was younger. It was funny, it was entertaining, and it had very enjoyable characters. The plot twists weren't necessarily expected, but they made sense. It was refreshing.

Artemis was a great character. He was clever without everyone else being made stupid to elevate him. He was interesting because he was a criminal. While he did care about his family, he also legitimately enjoyed breaking the law because of the intellectual challenge it posed to him. That could have been a great thing to hold onto throughout the rest of the series, but for the most part, Artemis stopped being brilliant once he stopped being a villain.

As the books continued, they got more and more full of contradictions and the plots got progressively more bizarre. I'm inclined to be more forgiving about that when it comes to the Atlantis Complex than I am when it comes to either the Time Paradox or the Last Guardian because as ridiculous as the Atlantis Complex was, it was at least fun. The other two were just kind of dumb.

Another thing that bothered me was that in the later books, other characters that started off smart and interesting also got progressively less so. Foaly, Holly, Opal - they were all supposed to be smart in different ways. By the end, that was gone.

This series had so much potential, but it got thrown out the window. The first three books were really good. I even liked the fourth and the fifth. They were a little different, but they were still entertaining and the contradictions and character derailment hadn't hit full force yet. Then the last three took a good thing and removed pretty much everything I liked about it.

The First Book Stands on its Own

I remember loving this series as a kid, but when I think about it, it's mostly because I started reading it when Harry Potter was still going, and was at exactly the right age and in the right mindset to love it. It has magic, and it's about a preteen boy; those are more or less where the similarities end, but they're enough to catch a kid's attention.
The things that will keep one interested are the description, the dialogue, and the world; the first of these actually made me lose interest in the book at first, given that it starts In Media Res and I wasn't used to that, but the dialogue is genuinely funny and the world no less than fascinating.

The plot of the first book starts as "young boy swindles fairies out of gold," and manages to thicken, develop, and progress without becoming a drag or taking great mental effort to keep up with, aided by unexpected but logical twists that will neither be seen coming nor confuse the reader enough to make them call BS.

The characters in the first book are all well-distinguished and interact with each other nicely and convincingly, and this mostly holds true for the second as well, but even in the second, the problems start piling up, slowly but surely, and they just do not stop.
Past the first book, Artemis is almost never a thief anymore, which was most of the reason he was so interesting in the first place; love interests for the poor kid come and go like the ball in a shell game with no warning, and often with no explanation; speaking of which, his relationship with Holly visibly confounds and confuses the author to no end; the books gradually become more and more blatant about environmentalism; by the third book, the principal characters can barely be distinguished from each other in dialogue; and, perhaps most damningly, the villains get more and more transparent, with the same one even being recycled and used in three different books.

The books up to the third are at least decent, but speaking as someone whose username for everything used to be Artemis92, they serve best as good examples of what not to do in a book series.
(Really, why couldn't he have just stuck with Minerva? He and Minerva were actually halfway believable. ...And both named after Greco-Roman goddesses, which somehow took me until now to realize.)

Not fantastic, but entertaining

I'll get right down to basics: Artemis Fowl is not the best series ever written. It isn't even close. What it does wrong are stupid plots in the last half of the series, the weird romantic chemistry between Artemis and Holly, and the rapid aging shaft they gave Butler. What it does right? They're fun. They are stupid, semi-intelligent fun that do get younger readers to actually think. They are funny, action-packed, and move along at a faster pace than a tunelling dwarf. Similar to Mathew Riley, Eoin Colfer writes books that make people that don't read do so, and he does it WELL. That said, if you try to take them seriously, you'll be disappointed. If you don't, however, it's a pretty good ride - even if Paradox is stupid.

Just stop reading after the third book

The first book was refreshingly unusual, featuring a clever main character and a clever plot The second book was a little bit weaker, but worked still fine. The third book was brilliant, with great twists and an ending which was the perfect tie in to the prologue of the first book.

The fourth book ruined the series. Not only did it undo the perfect ending of book three, from this point onwards it became more and more unreadable with each instalment, partly because the author wasn't able to keep the main figure a true criminal, but also because useless characters, time travel (of the "this doesn't make ANY sense" kind) and "let's just change the rules to bend the story however I like it" moments where thrown in.

So, read book 1-3 and enjoy. But don't make the mistake to read more, it will just ruin a perfect memory.

Fun, funny, and worth the read

I loved reading this series. It was creative, unique, and I loved all the books up until book eight. Colfer knows how to create a plot with just enough twists and turns so you don't know what's coming, but not so many it seems contrived. The characters will keep you entertained, and the series isn't afraid to take a slightly darker turn when it has to.

It's a blast for younger readers just coming off Harry Potter, and I highly recommend it.

At least, up until book eight.

Colfer pulls an amnesia card on us at the very end of book eight. Artemis Fowl and all the memories and character developement he'd accumulated over the course of the series, gone in an instant. It negates the entire series and its efforts to make Artemis a better person, and makes you wonder what the point was of the first seven books.

All in all, the series is lightweight and enjoyable, but give the eighth a pass unless you want to make up your own ending.

Yay to the first half, boo to the rest

Ending Spoilers are used in this revue.

This is one of my favorite series after similar genre types like Harry Potter or Discworld. The premise for the series is original, a modern day cops and robbers heist caper with fantasy elements. To this end I enjoy the first four books of the series. That could have been a closer for me.

Let's recap the endings of each book:

Book 1, Artemis schemes the fairies of their gold and gets his mother's sanity restored.

Book 2, Artemis and the LEP develop mutual respect, save Haven and find Artemis Fowl the Senior

Book 3, The LEP is forced to mind wipe Artemis and the Butlers but Artemis has a memory gambit in store, tying to the next book.

Book 4, Haven is saved from being revealed to humans, Holly quits the LEP because of Root's death and Artemis and Butler get their memories back.

Book 5, Artemis, Holly, and N1 are sucked into Hybras and help move the island out of Limbo. Unfortunately there's a time skip and everyone else has been waiting for them for two years.

Book 6, Artemis reveals the existence of fairies to his mother and pushes Past Opal Koboi to the edge but she is still stuck in the future to cause more time paradoxes.

Book 7, Turnball Root calls off his scheme due to pleas from his dying wife, making the efforts of our heroes almost pointless. Artemis still has his mental disorder and the ending sentence has Butler stepping in turnip soup. I am not kidding.

Here's what I think causes the derailment of this series: when young criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl stops being a criminal, he stops being a mastermind. This starts after Book 5 that ends with the time skip, especially jarring given Butler's rapid aging in book 3. Artemis handled himself fine in Book 5 until they got to Hybras. In Book 6, he travels back in time and is suddenly getting outsmarted for most of the book. True, his memories aren't really what he thinks they are due to Time Paradoxes but come on, this is Artemis Fowl we're talking about. He should be more competent. His only bits of brilliant strategy in this book are bringing his past self to the present and tricking Koboi in the chase. This becomes worse in Book 7 given how the characters affect nothing, leaving a downer ending to the next book that will hopefully wrap up the series.