This book, like all of Eoin Colfer's so far, has delivered a powerful warning shot to all the legions of Harry Potter disciples - there are other childrens/adults books out there, written with the same attention to plot and cadence, with the right mix of gags, punchlines, graphic cartoon violence, slimy monsters, and Sam Spade one-liners. This book, like all the others in the series, is a joy to read, and has had me laughing out loud, much to the discomfort of my early morning tube train companions. The whole series appeals to the 8 year-old prankster in all of us, yet has a puckish good humour that cracks even the most cynical old crust on occasion, and the inventively outlandish gadgets, locations and otherwordly species that pop their spiky heads in and out of the narrative only serve to drag you in deeper. Colfer positively revels in describing loathesome characters and their body functions, drooling monsters with impossible abilities, nose-picking halfwits, technological marvels we all secretly wished really existed, and inventively explosive bad endings for some of the bad guys. All the children I have bought these books for have lapped this all up and begged for more.
I bought the first book for my young-teen daughter, so far all subsequent episodes have remained firmly on my shelves! Part of the appeal of the stories is that they read like an old Saturday morning cinema serial, where each episode ends on a clifhanger, after some unbelievable plot twists, and the following week the heroes have to pull off even more outrageous and unlikely stunts to extricate themselves, win the girl and get the kiss. I hope Eoin Colfer keeps Artemis and his cronies on the shelves for many years to come, after all, my generation had William and Jennings, this generation needs Artemis Fowl!