Last weekend I house-sat for a friend and watched their cat while they were out of town, but I had foolishly left my laptop, notebooks, and books at home. So I browsed their shelves, 98% of their library being history or historical fiction. As a recent graduate with a B.A. in history, that would’ve been fine. But I had a hankering for something more speculative. After finding probably the only YA novel they owned--Artemis Fowl--I snuggled with their cat on the couch and read the whole thing through.
(If any of you think that’s an impressive and unusual feat, then you clearly don’t know many bookworms. Assuming there are no plans that involve social interaction, book-binging with a cat is a pretty typical weekend.)
Basically, a twelve-year-old brat tricks a bunch of fairy-people into giving him gold. He does it because his family went from billionaires to poor l’il millionaires a few years ago and he wants to fix that. Also, his family is in the crime business, so morals aren’t really a thing.
That’s a great theme throughout the book: morals. Artemis’s (the aforementioned brat) plan centers around kidnapping a fairy, Captain Holly Short, and holding her for ransom. All of the major characters face a moral dilemma in the following twelve hours: Artemis is surprised at feeling guilt for his actions, Holly has to choose whether or not to save one of her kidnappers, Commander Root has to balance saving his subordinate against keeping the secrecy of the fairy race, etc.
The book itself is funny and very well-written. It takes on themes like guilt and ethics without being preachy. It’s suspenseful and hilarious to see a twelve-year-old take on the entire fairy underworld.
The biggest disappointment of the book was Juliet, one of Artemis’s servants/bodyguards. Teenage Juliet and her big brother are members of the Butler family, which has served the Fowls for centuries. They’re renowned for their excellent fighting skills, which her brother (only ever called Butler) uses on multiple occasions. When we first meet Juliet we’re told she’s big into wrestling and is one of the few people close enough to Artemis to sass him, and he may or may not have a crush on her.
Okay. Sixteen-year-old wrestler, bodyguard extraordinaire with attitude. Sounds like a cool character. I’m sure she’ll have at least one fight scene (since her brother has three), and that she’ll be a major part of the plot moving forward.
Nope. Juliet is delegated to DID mode (damsel in distress) after Holly uses magic to manipulate her into letting her go. Holly spends the majority of the book as the main DID, being the kidnapped fairy held for ransom, which is somewhat annoying since she’s supposed to be the fairy equivalent of SWAT. But she more or less gets herself out of the Fowls’ captivity, so it’s less annoying.
Holly also fights a troll a couple of times. The first time she is very low on magic and just barely pulls it off. The second time, when she’s reclaimed her magic and is much more powerful, her role is reduced to healing Butler so he can defeat the troll to save Juliet, which is managed without any of the technology/magic Holly needed to do the same thing.
Oh, that’s another thing. Butler should’ve been killed off. Artemis got away with his plan scot-free, having risked everything and lost nothing. Had he lost the closest thing he had to a friend/family, that would’ve been a tremendous emotional suckerpunch. The story would’ve been much more powerful. It also would’ve given Juliet and/or Holly a chance to defeat the troll in an awesome fight scene.
Obviously the story itself is very good, else I never would’ve read the whole thing in three short hours. The characters were intriguing and the plot kept me guessing. I may spend some money investing in the next book in the series, since the epilogue alluded to Holly becoming a total BAMF in future clashes with Artemis. There’s also some terrific world-building going on that I’d like to see more of. But if every book has zero losses and a minimum of girl-driven storylines, then I’m not going to waste my money. Not even Artemis himself could convince me otherwise.
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!