Science fiction and fantasy
by Eoin Colfer
So when Artemis kidnaps Holly Short, a fairy who works in the elite LEPrecon unit, the big guns have to be brought out, both magical and technological.
Artemis Fowl has been compared with the Harry Potter books, but in fact it has a lot more in common with Tom Holt's work. It's levity and refusal to take anything seriously set a very similar tone to Holt, as well as the way they both put a modern slant on old myths.
Artemis has managed to get his hands on a book sacred to fairy kind, and he intends to use it to swindle them. The fairy races, who include centaurs, trolls, dwarves, goblins and others, as well as fairies, find themselves outsmarted at every turn by this child. Being something of a prodigy, and living in a world of large mansions and loyal butlers, Artemis is a little unreal. It's hard to like him, or even to suspend disbelief enough to imagine him. His mother, who began to go insane when his father disappeared, allows readers to see that Artemis does have vulnerabilities and a more human side.
Needless to say things go awry, and fairy forces contain the mansion with an inescapable containment field, and threaten to detonate a bio-bomb. This will kill every living thing within, and keep their hidden world secret. This doesn't daunt Artemis, who remains cool in the face of an angry bull troll and almost certain death.
Having an anti-hero means that there is no central character to cheer for. Readers may be torn between wanting the fairy and human characters to prevail. The trouble is, they may end up not caring about either. The fairys profess to care about the environment, and the damage that humans do to it. The book is full of them bemoaning the state of affairs, to the extent that it comes across as quite preachy in parts. On the whole though it's meant to be funny. A lot of the humour is slapstick and visual, such as a particularly gross-out scene involving a dwarf and his digestion.
Artemis Fowl is a pacy, easy and not unpleasant read. The ending is satisfactory if somewhat predictable. It's Tom Holt for a slightly younger audience. It doesn't engage and absorb in the way that the His Dark Materials trilogy does, but if you prefer short and silly to metaphysical and serious, then you will enjoy reading this book.
If you like this, try:Bartimaeus: The Amulet Of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
A young magician summons a djinni to steal a powerful amulet, but the djinni resents being treated as an errand boy and has a few tricks to get even with the upstart magician.
Magisterium: The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Some people seem to believe Callum Hunt is the personification of evil, and the young mage is afraid they might be right. The second novel in the Magisterium series.
Magisterium: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black
A boy gets the chance to go to magic school, but he would rather do anything else. The first in the Magisterium series.