(This is Book 6 in my quest to read 50 books in 2008. Yes, I’m a bit behind. Don’t worry.)
I started reading the Artemis Fowl series almost by accident. I was teaching middle school computer applications and one of the kids was fascinated by the book, and told me that I had to read it. I read the first one over the weekend, and was hooked. In fact, I have a review of the series up to book 5 (this one) available at Blogcritics. I really enjoy it because it’s the anti-Potter. It’s a series that’s just as intriguing and well-written as Harry Potter, but without all the baggage that’s been attached to it.
I’ve written a summary at the link above, so I’m going to proceed assuming that you’ve read it, and are a bit familiar with the series in general. Over the course of four books, we’ve seen young Artemis Fowl mature, and his character has changed significantly from the first book. In fact, I had figured that the series was over after book 4, since Artemis had finally turned out to be a “good guy.” He’s using his considerable resources and talents for good. Game over, right?
Wrong. Colfer has plans for his genius. Book 5 finds young Artemis, along with the ubiquitous Butler (his name, not his occupation), in Barcelona, standing on a sidewalk waiting for a demon to appear. It becomes clear that they aren’t the only group waiting for this particular demon.
The story takes off from there. Artemis has some competition in this story — a young girl, twelve-year-old Minerva Paradizo, who is Artemis’ equal in just about every way imaginable.
And she is the addition that this series needed. Artemis is 14 in this book, and is experiencing the mental and emotional distractions that come with puberty. You can see where this is leading from there; it’s pretty obvious even at the very beginning that Minerva Paradizo is a future love interest for young Artemis Fowl.
But it’s also about time that Artemis had some competition, a bit of a challenge. He’s done it all, he’s saved the world once or twice, and it’s becoming old to him. A challenge is exactly what he needs — and so do we.
We get a little more backstory concerning the fairy world in this one, too. We learn specifically about the demons, and their exile. There’s a time spell that keeps them separate from Earth, and that spell is fraying. If something isn’t done, the entire demon realm with re-enter Earth’s space-time, and that could cause problems for everyone involved. So it’s up to Artemis, Butler, Holly Short, Foaly, and the rest to once again save the world.
I’m trying to write this without a lot of spoilers, but I figure that’s not too important since the book’s two years old now. Artemis changes even more in this edition (just when we thought he couldn’t) because of some time-traveling, and because of some things that happen to him in the demon dimension. He’s starting to let people know how he feels about them — even Holly, which could be very interesting in future books, especially with the introduction of Minerva. My only problem with this book is that Minerva changes too quickly; there’s no gradual change, as there was with Artemis. I can write that off as being the result of Artemis’ influence on her, or because she’s developed a bit of a crush on Artemis, but it was still a bit unsatisfying; I figured we’d have a couple of books with her taking on Artemis before she eventually came around, just in time for Artemis to take her to the prom or something.
This is a great book, and a welcome addition to the series. Pick it up wherever you can, and be encouraged: book 6, The Time Portal, is due out in July of this year.