Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex

Confession: I've written this post four times over the last four weeks. It keeps getting eaten by blogger.

I've been reading the Artemis Fowl series since they first came out (and I was in an adolescent literature class and plucked it off the "free" cart my professor had). It's a fantastic series, one I adore, and one of my go-to recommendations for kids, especially kids in the 4th grade to 7th grade zone. Like Harry Potter? Percy Jackson and the Olympians? Chances are you're going to like this one too. I'd rather forgotten the series in the last year or so, but when the latest volume came in to the library, I happily grabbed it off the new cart and devoured it. Can't remember why I forgot this series, even 7 volumes in it still is a very enjoyable read.

Book: Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer*
Vital Stats: Published in 2010 by Disney/Hyperion Books, 357 pages
Marketed Toward: Ages 9 to 12
The Quick and the Short of It: Recommended for fourth or fifth grade (ages 9 or 10) and up

Book Synopsis
Artemis Fowl is an evil genius and the latest in a long string of criminal masterminds who have built up the Fowl Empire and live on an estate in Ireland. You do not want to jump into this the seventh book without having started with the first book (the eponymous Artemis Fowl). If you read the first volume, you would know that Artemis proves that fairies are real, have some magic and extremely advanced technology and live far underground. In the seventh volume, Artemis is beginning to repent of his criminal past and obsesses about the good he can do with "the project". His project will save the environment, benefiting both humanity and fairy-kind. Unfortunately when he's demonstrating this project to his fairy allies, there is an attack. The attack could have devastating consequences for human and fairies alike and normally (and in all previous volumes) is exactly the sort of thing that would bring out the genius of Artemis Fowl and allow him to save the day (and probably make a profit) in a fiendishly clever way, but the attack pushed him over the edge into madness. How can the assorted (and after 6 previous volumes beloved) cast of fairies and humans save the day and Artemis?

My Take
I love these books. (Did I say that already?) The premise is fun, the cast of characters is memorable (and after all these volumes beginning to feel like friends), the mixture of real world and folklore elements are handled with charm and wit. Overall a lot of fun. This sort of thing can get boring after a while. (There is a great danger either because Artemis ran into trouble during a money making scheme or because someone else was a criminal and wanted to make money and now everyone must work together to save the world. Really you can only read that plot so many times.) Throwing the element of Artemis Fowl's spiral into madness keeps the whole thing fresh and readable. Plus it was a nice new glimpse into an otherwise well known character. So while the plots are beginning to feel predictable, Colfer keeps them fun and readable. Still a very solid and enjoyable choice for fantasy/adventure fans. It will particularly appeal to boys (though girls love it too).

Possible Issues/Christian Connection
The fairies probably tipped you off, but there is magic in this book. And in the first book, Artemis starts as a criminal. However the magic seems to be outshined by the out-there science (in fact magic is used rarely in the first few books though plays a larger role in lter books) and is primarily of the pretend-style. As Artemis grows a conscience over the course of the series, it is interesting how morality changes for him (or at least he begins to recognize it). That would be interesting to read/discuss from a Christian point of view. There is some violence in this book, but it is not over emphasized or glorified in any way. And there are the deaths of a couple of prominent characters throughout the series. In balance, I would recommend this book for a Christian household.