This book has been on my shelf for quite a while. I don’t know where I first saw it, but something about it seemed appealing in a Harry Potter sort of way. I generally enjoy YA fantasy and this seemed to be a very popular series, so when the movie trailer was released, I thought I better get it read before the movie arrives.
It was a pretty major disappointment. Without giving spoilers, the basic gist is that a 12-year old genius billionaire and his personal bodyguard devise a plot to get gold from the fairy folk by ransoming one of them. The world-building has some serious promise, but it’s always a warning sign when you just don’t like the “protagonist.” (Not really sure Artemis is the protagonist, truthfully, that may rightfully belong to Holly. So maybe I should say “title character?”) The fairy side of things seems pretty cool. But the Artemis side of things… just seems pretty shady. In the current world agenda of erasing concepts of “good” and “bad” and instead turning everything grey, I can see how this has become popular. The idea that we’re pushing this to our kids is something that maybe people should consider. Besides that, though, it just seems unbelievable. Harry Potter as a 12 year old with magic is written much more believably. Artemis is written as something of an emotionless savant. His bodyguard, Butler, is essentially a combination of John Wick and Neo, being trained at some ancient academy which apparently was established to train protectors for the Fowl family. Interesting concept, but it just doesn’t seem plausible. As in, not even as plausible as magic.
Then there’s the idea that he is from an ultra-wealthy family with a criminal history, but is resorting to crime to further his wealth. Why would you do that? Why risk it all? At some point, even if you are a crime family, you have to switch over to legitimate ends so you don’t end up destitute and in prison. Why not use that wealth privilege to make money from legitimate opportunities? And then there’s the problem of his parents. His father has gone missing. His mother is literally insane and disconnected from reality. And we’re supposed to believe that they were somehow able to raise an adolescent that is essentially a super genius, able to outsmart every opponent?
The whole thing just doesn’t really fit. It’s the concept of a Mary Jane, only much much worse. Maybe your mileage will vary, but I just didn’t find it enjoyable overall. Even the enjoyable parts were far overshadowed by the stuff mentioned above. Perhaps this is a product of my age, now so much farther from my youth than the intended audience. But that explains why I’ve rated this one at 2/5. I’d really go for a 2.5. I didn’t actually hate it, and there is some cool opportunity in the world Eoin Colfer has created here.
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