Since it was first published in 2001, when I was 13 I’m surprised I’ve not read this book before. I was definitely in its target audience and it’s the kind of thing I would have read. Although having said that I think I remember seeing it in the library and thinking that I was far too grown up for something with a sparkly cover and which featured a storyline about fairies. I mean hello? I was a teenager!
Anyway regardless of my teenaged opinion, Artemis Fowl has made it to number 59 on the BBC’s list and so when I spied a copy in the Cancer Research shop I snapped it up.
In short, Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old criminal mastermind who has designs on removing a large amount of gold from the fairy world. And of all the people who’ve attempted this before, Artemis is the most likely to succeed.
I’ll be honest, the adult me groaned at the storyline (and the glittery cover), it just sounded so….familiar. I find it hard to explain exactly what it is that put me off this book but I was filled with a certain reluctance to start reading it.
Once I did, however, I actually found myself quite enjoying it. I’d say that this turnabout is probably due to the cast of the fairy world. Captain Holly Short, Commander Root and Foaly are all funny, likeable characters who I warmed to instantly. Even Mulch, the dwarf was a great character. The humans on the other hand – Artemis I found fairly flat and didn’t really seem to feature in the way you expect of a title character, Juliet was vapid and uninteresting (I think she was supposed to be) but Butler was fun, I liked him.
I’m not sure which side you’re supposed to be on here. I mean it’s rare for the title character to be the bad guy but with Artemis being human and the same age as the target audience I would assume you’re meant to be rooting for him. But when reading the book, more time is spent following Holly and the other fairies and they are the characters I warmed to most. But they’re all adults. And mythical beings. So I don’t know who you’re meant to cheer for but I was definitely supporting the People (not the human people) although which side won I obviously can’t tell you.
It was a very easy read, I flew through it in three days at most and I loved all the descriptions of fairy technology and the glimpses of fairy history that we were allowed but I felt that the story itself lacked depth. There were twists and turns in the plot, plenty of peril but there was something missing. Possibly it’s something to do with the fact that all the action took place in one night so there was no build up of tension or maybe I’m just expecting too much from something aimed at 10-12 year-olds but coming from the era of Harry Potter I think I’m well within my rights to expect more.
This was the first book in a series of eight (and there were numerous hints at sequels throughout the story) and I wasn’t left desperate to find the others. So perhaps the teenaged me was right after all.