Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Artemis Fowl: Review on the 1st book in a series (For kids)

Genre: Children's books ages 10+ Fantasy

I was getting my afternoon pick me up, the Very Berry Hibiscus at Starbucks, and they were offering quite a few iTune downloads.  One was for their book pick of the week, Artemis Fowl: Book One.  Since I know that there are other readers out there besides the Fifty Shades fanatics, I thought it was time to review a kid's book.  So I read Artemis Fowl: Book One by Eoin Colfer.  Here's the premise of the story.  12 year old Artemis Fowl, who lives on the family estate in Ireland,  is left virtually an orphan when his father, a nefarious criminal of unsavory means, is killed.  This throws Arty's mother into a tail spin.  She stays in her own room with all the curtains closed, she is paranoid, sees creatures, and stuffs her husband's wedding tuxedo to emulate her deceased husband.  This leaves Artemis, who is a genius, in a void. Read more...
And geniuses without guidance, well, nothing good can from from that.  He becomes arrogant and in many ways delusional.  But evilly delusional.  This situation is not helped by his body guard, aptly named Butler.  The Butler family has been aiding and abetting the Fowl family for years.  They are trained to be obedient and non questioning of the Fowls.  So when Artemis tells Butler to jump, he asks, how high? Even though Artemis is only 12.  Butler is like a walking, dangerous hulk to Artemis' diminutive size. Artemis knows that when his father died, the family estate lost 15 million dollars.  Being by himself, no longer being made to go to school, with large amounts of cash at his disposal and with his mother closeted in her room, Artemis comes up with a scheme to steal millions of dollars of gold...from fairies, elves, leprechauns.  You know.  The pot at the end of the proverbial rainbow.  Artemis knows there is no pot of gold but he does believe enough in the ancient myths of Ireland to believe that fairies have got to be hiding something.  And he wants it. And he will use any means, yes, there could be murder, to get it. 

Colfer describes Artemis Fowl as, "Die Hard with fairies".  It is a mixture of folk lore, fantasy and high tech.  Colfer dishes up, in addition to the fairies, elves and leprechauns, trolls, gnomes, dwarfs, and a Centaur (who just happens to be a wiz with high tech gadgets).  Artemis gets his hands on The Book of The People, (the fairies) and is going to use it to entice the fairies out of their underground hiding world.  He has learned through The Book that the fairies have a "ransom" fund.  Through his high tech world, he has learned the language of the People and understands what they can and can not do once they are above ground.  So, he finds a way to capture a fairy, one Holly Short, a Captain in the LePcron forces (Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance).  He holds her as a hostage and asks for the ransom all to be in gold bars.  When he does, he unleashes forces he thought he could contain.  All kinds of fun weaponry are thrown about, with magical helmets and portable wings, iris eye cameras and lava lifts.  Throw in 15 foot, smelly trolls with gnashing teeth and poisoned tusks,  as well as a tunnel dwarf who unhinges his jaw and chews his way through the earth like a roto rooter.  This, I must say, is where I chuckled on at least two occasions.  OK, it's minimalistic bathroom humor.  But when the dwarf eats the dirt, it has to come out somewhere...and with great flair (or flare.  A teachable moment)!  And Holly...well, Holly is a well trained officer of the LePcron and ends up utilizing her powers very well, thank you very much. 

What about Artemis?  How should you feel about a kid who maneuvers a kidnapping which could possibly cause the death of many fairies as well as the deaths of himself, his mother, Butler and Butler's sister?  One reviewer said (Fantasy Book Reviews),  "Artemis is a supremely intelligent child that considers any signs of humility as weakness; however, he is not quite yet the hardened criminal his father was before him so remains likable and not completely a ruthless character."  I disagree.  There were times when Artemis did show his humanity but he almost always reverted back to his "selfish" self, disregarding the well being of those around him.   But I think there is enough fantasy, humor, thrills and high tech to keep your kids asking, when is the new Artemis book coming out? And just to prepare your wallet, there are now 8 books in the series. 

P.S.  One of the thrills of the paper books is that at the bottom of each page is a puzzle using the language  of The People for your little people to try to decipher.  E-books don't have them...

If you want more of an indepth review regarding violence, profanity, sexuality etc in any children's book, just go to www.focusonthefamily.com

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