Well . . . it's different! And it's a lot of fun. We are definitely not in Kansas. We are, however, "at the dawn of the twenty-first century" in North Dublin, where we meet Master Artemis Fowl. He is descended from a long line of legendary lawbreakers and is a criminal mastermind himself. He is a kidnapper, a conniver, a computer genius . . . and he loves his mother. He is 12-years-old.
His father is missing, his mother is temporarily out of her head with grief, and that leaves Artemis out of school and free to skedaddle about the globe with his trusty, bonded-to-him-for-life manservant, Butler (an avid Guns and Ammo reader), on a spree to refill the family coffers with fairy gold, thereby restoring the Fowl family fortune to its billionaire status, a status that was plunged into jeopardy by his father's bad investments and involvement with the Russian Mafia just before his ship was blown to bits along with Butler's uncle and 250,000 cans of cola. Whew! Let me catch my breath.
Enter Holly Short (the kidnappee), generally known as a fairy, technically an elf, also a leprechaun, "but that was just a job." Holly is a renegade member of LEPrecon, an elite branch of the Lower Elements Police. Fairies, trolls, goblins, gnomes, sprites and pixies live a rich underground life all around the globe, their existence unbeknownst to humans. But Artemis has discovered the People (such a precocious lad) and has cracked their code. He knows secrets. He devises a plan that could "topple civilizations and plunge the planet into a cross-species war."
Does he do it? Do Holly and her crack team of commandos curb Artemis Fowl? Do we all wake up in the morning? The cantankerous cast of characters includes a troll with a monumental case of flatulence and more high-tech gadgets than a dozen James Bond movies. This is a raucous romp through Irishman Eoin Colfer's imaginative world, where ulterior motives are the order of the day and we are promised that this spectacle will continue "across several decades" (and a movie in 2002) and that our anti-hero will continue to win some, lose some, but always come back for more, "after eighteen solid hours of sleep and a light continental breakfast."
Deborah Wiles' first two books for children, Freedom Summer and Love, Ruby Lavender, were published this spring. Copyright 2001 BookPage Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Fall
A twelve-year-old criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl brings the fairy folk to their knees when he kidnaps one of their own. The self-conscious revisioning of the fairy world as a sort of wisecracking police force occurs throughout the novel, stealing focus from the one truly intriguing character, Artemis himself. There's a lot of invention here, but it's not used enough in service to the story. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2001 #4
Meet Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter's Irish evil twin. A twelve-year-old criminal mastermind, Fowl brings the fairy folk to their knees when he steals their sacred book (translating it on his computer), and kidnaps one of their own, demanding gold for a ransom. Yet while the Harry Potter series exposes the magic tucked within the mundane, Artemis Fowl goes the opposite route. These fairies opt for technological gadgets over pixie dust and, if their dialogue is any indication, seem au courant with our cheesy action movies ("Freeze, Mud Boy"). In fact, Colfer informs us, leprechauns aren't the knicker-wearing, shamrock-waving creatures humans think they are. They are actually "an elite branch of the Lower Elements Police," a.k.a. LEPrecon unit. The self-conscious revisioning of the fairy world as a sort of wisecracking police force with friction among the ranks occurs throughout the novel, stealing focus from the one truly intriguing character, Artemis himself. It is a relief to see fleeting chinks in Artemis's James Bond style cool, as when he thinks about his mother, who has become severely depressed and delusional since the disappearance of Artemis's father. Still, the long stretches devoted to the fairy world's maneuverings, which only readers fond of technical detail will find appealing, overwhelm these moments. There's a lot of invention here, but it's not used enough in service to the story, and may well be deployed to better effect in the feature film slated for next year. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Magazine
Kirkus Reviews 2001 April #1
A 12-year-old Irish crime lord takes on the realm of Faerie to recoup his family fortune in this madcap leap aboard the Pottermania bandwagon. Having done his homework, thanks to a fairy manual extorted from an alcoholic sprite in Ho Chi Minh City, youngFowl and his omnicompetent butler, Butler, not only seize the equally aptly named Holly Short, feisty member of LEPrecon (an elite unit of the Lower Elements Police) for ransom, but are well prepared when her pointy-eared compatriots rush to the rescue with a combination of old magic and futuristic high technology. In the ensuing battle, fought as much with wits as weapons, Fowl proves himself a brilliant strategist, if not quite as dastardly or self-confident as he'd like to be, and thanks to what amounts to a magical technicality, he comes out of the dustup alive, with a half-ton of fairy gold, and even a wish (which he puts to good use). Though the violence occasionally turns brutal, Fowl and Short make splendid, well-matched rivals, supported by an inspired cast that includes huge rogue trolls, malicious goblins, an irreverent techie satyr, and kleptomaniac dwarf Mulch Diggins--all of whom are likely to reappear in sequels that are even now underway. Readers familiar with Sherlock Holmes, as well as an array of modern fantasists from Roald Dahl on, will find plenty of homage paid in this savagely funny page-turner.First printing of 100,000; $250,000 ad/promo; film rights to Miramax; author tour Copyright Kirkus 2001 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved
Library Journal Reviews 2001 June #2
Colfer is already well known in Britain for his popular children's books. The quirky characters and delightful humor of his latest work will undoubtedly delight American readers as well. Artemis Fowl, 12-year-old criminal mastermind and consummate self-server, is out to win fame and restock the dwindling family fortune. The wealthy Fowls, underworld moguls, have fallen on hard times with the disappearance of Artemis's father and the questionable sanity of his depressed mother. Having discovered the true existence of fairies and their magic, Artemis foments a wicked plot to steal their gold. Coercing a fairy on the skids to show him her book of magic, he manages to crack the code and acquaint himself with fairy magic and technology. But Artemis realizes that he needs more bargaining power, so he kidnaps the fairy, Capt. Holly Short of the LEPrecon (Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance) Unit, intending to ransom her for the gold. As the book progresses, readers suspect that this child prodigy is perhaps not so foul as he seems, nor are the good fairies quite so wonderful after all. Fun to read, full of action and humor, this is recommended for all public libraries and to readers of all ages. [The publisher, jointly with Hyperion Books for Children, is promoting this to the young and adult fans of Harry Potter. Ed.] Jennifer Baker, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2001 April #2
Colfer's (Benny and Omar) crime caper fantasy, the first in a series, starts off with a slam-bang premise: anti-hero Artemis Fowl is a boy-genius last in line of a legendary crime family teetering on the brink of destruction. With the assistance of his bodyguard, Butler, he masterminds his plan to regain the Fowls' former glory: capture a fairy and hold her ransom for the legendary fairy gold. However, his feisty mark, Holly, turns out to be a member of the "LEPrecon, an elite branch of the Lower Elements Police," so a wisecracking team of satyrs, trolls, dwarfs and fellow fairies set out to rescue her. Despite numerous clever gadgets and an innovative take on traditional fairy lore, the author falls short of the bar. The rapid-fire dialogue may work as a screenplay with the aid of visual effects (a film is due out from Talk/Miramax in 2002) but, on the page, it often falls flat. The narrative hops from character to character, so readers intrigued by Artemis's wily, autocratic personality have to kill a good deal of time with the relatively bland Holly and her cohorts, and the villain/hero anticlimactically achieves his final escape by popping some sleeping pills (it renders him invulnerable to the fairy time-stop). Technology buffs may appreciate the imaginative fairy-world inventions and action-lovers will get some kicks, but the series is no classic in the making. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2001 May
Gr 5-8-Twelve-year-old genius Artemis Fowl decides to reinvigorate his family fortunes by kidnapping a fairy and demanding its gold. Having obtained and decoded the Book, a tome containing all of the fairies' secrets, Artemis captures an elf named Holly Short and holds her captive at his family mansion in Ireland. However, he hasn't reckoned on the resources and cunning of the LEPrecon Unit, an elite branch of the fairy police force, whose members will stop at nothing to rescue Captain Short. It seems that the wicked ways of the Mud People (humans) have driven most of the magical creatures underground, where a gritty, urban fairy civilization is flourishing. The fairy characters are mouthy and eccentric, but Artemis is too stiff and enigmatic to be interesting; the story bogs down when the focus is on him. The combination of choppy sentences and ornate language will appeal to some readers, although not necessarily to Harry Potter fans; the emphasis here is more on action (some of it gory), technology, and deadpan humor than on magic, and only one character (Artemis) is a child.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2001 August
Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl took over his family's evil criminal empire after his father's disappearance and his mother's nervous breakdown. Artemis and his trusty sidekick, Butler, kidnap a fairy for fairy gold, unaware that this fairy is not the old-fashioned kind. Artemis finds himself up against the thoroughly modern LEPrecon, an armed and dangerous branch of the Lower Elements Police led by Commander Root, who will do anything to ensure Captain Holly Short's safe return. The strength of this book is in the creation of a new underground world peopled by progressive fairies, goblins, trolls, and other fantastical creatures. Sly in tone with generous dollops of humor, this story does not shy away from difficult topics. One scene is violent, describing a troll attacking Butler and his younger sister. The pat ending-Butler is healed by the same fairy that he held hostage, Artemis's mother starts living her life again, and Artemis gets to keep the fairy gold-seems a bit much, but the epilogue hints at Artemis's deviousness and sets up sequels by referring to future encounters with LEPrecon Captain Holly Short. This story has lots of action, but ultimately, interesting gadgets and nefarious plots do not compensate for an unsympathetic main character. The LEPrecon and those living underground are fascinating and worthy of their own books. Despite marketing claims, this book is no Harry Potter, but as fantasy adventures go, it should have a wide following among middle schoolers, especially boys. More than a fantasy, it is the story that might result if James Bond were mixed with legends and the folklore of fairies, trolls, and goblins. Like the Potter books, it might appeal to teens of all ages. Author Colfer is an elementary school teacher in Ireland, where his previous novel was a best-seller.-Susan Smith. 3Q 4P M J S Copyright 2001 Voya Reviews