After reading The Last Guardian, I thought it would be appropriate to go back to the very beginning for a series readthrough, something that I haven’t ever done with the Artemis Fowl books before. I started the first one last night and finished it this morning after waking up.
Reading this book was almost like stepping into a time machine, going back to when I was a sixth grader reading it for the first time. It was even better this time around because I read the first book immediately after finishing the eighth and final book, so I was able to see all of the references that The Last Guardian made to the beginning of the series; for example (mild spoilers ahead), the closing paragraph of The Last Guardian is the first paragraph of Chapter 1 of the first book (spoilers end here). The flashbacks don’t start there, as we see references to certain gadgets or characters that were created at the start, only to be brought back or mentioned at the end. At the end of a series, it’s always satisfying to know that the author cares about bringing things full-circle for his/her readers.
I’m straying away from the first book, so I’ll focus only on it now: Artemis is at his most sinister, and it’s delightful. When I first read this, I was Artemis’ age, so it was almost empowering to imagine this kid who was no older than I was accomplishing so much. Another part of the appeal of this book was that there’s not necessarily a true hero – who do I root for? Who is the villain? There isn’t a “hero” because the title character, who you’d expect to be the hero, is a criminal mastermind who is using his superior intellect to kidnap for ransom. Despite his genius, though, we do see a glimpse of Artemis’ humanity every once in a while, which is refreshing because it grounds the character and gives us something further to identify with.
As for the People, that is to say, the elves, pixies, dwarfs, centaurs, and trolls that Artemis is taking advantage of, their world and existence is so beautifully imagined by the author that I’ve had the same vivid pictures of the various characters in my head since I was first introduced to this universe 8 years ago. Perhaps the most impressive part of their world isn’t the beings, which are merely re-imaginations of classic mythical creatures, but instead the technology. Everything from Neutrino 2000s to iris cams to time-stops to bio-bombs is incredibly detailed and, to a 12-year-old especially, super cool! Even now, I wish that I could sit down with the centaur Foaly and have a look through all of his technological innovations.
I didn’t realize until this read-through how “green” the series is; Colfer constantly seems to be promoting environmental preservation, condemning pollution, violence, and humans’ tendencies to kill of entire species of animals, doing this all through the perspective of his elfin non-human characters. It’s great to see Colfer showing kids the importance of our environment and the value of an animal’s, or even a human’s, life. I noticed these same messages were still present in The Last Guardian; it appears to be close to Mr. Colfer’s heart.
Everything wraps together to create a book that is nonstop from the get-go. Of all of the Artemis Fowl, this first one is the most captivating. While it’s no Harry Potter, Eoin Colfer manages to spin a tale that kept me reading for eight years. Who knows? If you give it a chance, you may find yourself just as enthralled as I was.
Rating: 5 (out of 5)
P.S. – Read my review of the graphic novel adaptation of this book here!