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By Faery Means or Fowl
on 2 August 2012
Like most people, I'd heard of Artemis Fowl, of course. It's one of those few YA series that can be mentioned in the same sentence as Harry Potter. Unfortunately the sentence usually runs along the lines: "Artemis Fowl, unlike the more successful Harry Potter books..."
And this is a shame. In the post-Potter YA boom, Colfer's books were sort of put in the shade, and assumed to be imitators by dint of the young lead character's odd name, and the presence of magic.
This first Fowl book is far from Hogwarts though. Rather than twinkly twee magical adventures with heroic well-scrubbed good boys and girls, Artemis Fowl is a YA SF thriller with technologically advanced fairies. Fowl himself is a ruthless antihero, a scheming evil boy genius, and the fact he loves his Mummy is really neither nor there.
Artemis Fowl is a teenage master criminal trying to restore his family fortune by extorting gold from the fairies. He has little compunction about kidnapping, violence and drugging members of his own family, as well as his servants and friends. He is a fantastically amoral creation.
The secondary characters are also well drawn, from Butler, a surrogate father figure, best friend and bodyguard to Artemis, to kidnapped leprechaun Captain Holly Short.
A great book that challenges the theory that crime doesn't pay, I look forward to reading the further adventures of Artemis Fowl... but not straight away. I felt this was a totally adequate standalone novel in its own right, and don't feel particularly gripped to read the next installment.