12 – Artemis Fowl

artemis-fowlBook Title: Artemis Fowl
Author: Eoin Colfer
Style: Chapter Book
Target Audience: Young Adult
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
Page Count: 250
Format: Hardcover (library edition)
Reading time: 3 hours
Date Finished: 1/07/17

My impressions: I don’t know what I expected going into Artemis Fowl – I seriously thought it was a talking animal medieval fantasy series in the vein of Redwall or The Tale of Despereuax, but with ducks. Color me surprised that it’s a modern Die Hard type of story told from the point of view of a 12-year-old supervillain. Granted, his opponents are leprechauns, sprites, dwarves, elves and trolls (collectively called fairies or “The People”), but it’s a story that offered far more than I expected.

The book didn’t grip me right away; it begins with such a super serious tone and lack of humor that I had trouble getting into it, especially once the LEP fairy police force was introduced in the third chapter in a sequence that resembled a bad cop drama a little too closely. While I liked the ideas of the story (including the notion that the fairies had long since taken residence in a parallel, ultra-high tech society disguised from our own), there was a little too much in the way of cliché for me to feel engaged.

But then the hostage part of the story began and things got good – Artemis Fowl proved to not only be an excellent and exciting supervillain, but a strong protagonist as well. Some of the other characters who didn’t initially wow me started to earn my attention as the story eased into more humorous moments and interesting conflicts and allowed them to breathe. The absurdity of the story started to sink in, and I realized that part of the fun was in how straight this silly encounter was being played. For example, there is a scene midway through the book where Fowl’s Brock Samson-like bodyguard Butler is nearly killed by a flatulent dwarf, and as crazy as it may sound, the scene is played out like it’s in an action movie, with quick thinking, deadly purpose and the potential for fatal mistakes.

I may have to try another one of these books, but though they’ve been adapted into graphic novels, I think I’ll stick to them in their YA novel form since they’re a quick read. The graphic novels appear to have a high level of extremely stylized art that’s not too faithful to the characters in the source material, and that’s a big turnoff for me.

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