Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Don’t Underestimate Artemis Fowl

     Recently on The Fangirl Initiative, I’ve been taking a few strolls down memory lane with classic fandoms like Narnia, Redwall, and The Lord of the Rings. Those stories were the bread and butter of my childhood, to be sure. But memory lane wouldn’t be complete unless I mentioned (nay, gushed about) one of the few young adult book series that has yet to be adapted into a movie… for good or for ill.

     For anyone who is still looking for a good summer fantasy to distract them from the looming semester ahead as it creeps ever closer, allow me to give you a good spoiler-free explanation about why you should try diving into the modernized faerie world of Artemis Fowl.

Hogwarts Fowl Manor, A History

     The series was written by Irish author Eoin Colfer, who later went on to pen the fairly popular sci-fi adventure The Supernaturalist, as well as the sixth installment of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. However, most readers know and love him because they first read his work on Artemis Fowl. The saga spans eight books, and the first four have also been released in graphic novel form with art by Giovanni Rigano.

     There’s a 2009 video-game adaptation for Nintendo DS and DSi as well. As for movies? Well, rumors, announcements, and plans for a film adaptation have come and gone for over a decade without results. Colfer actually participated in a lot of the arrangements, writing the screenplay(s) and such… even Disney tried to produce a film that would combine the plot of the first two books into a movie with a new hybrid plot… but, with occasional actors' strikes in Ireland and the latest announcement shrinking into the distance of 2013, it’s unclear whether or not the series will ever get its much-deserved screen time.

The Plot

     The series begins when eleven-year-old Irish criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl II, begins to investigate the existence of fairy-folk. When he discovers that magical creatures have managed to adapt to life deep underground in order to avoid the human race, Artemis drags his bodyguard Butler along on a mission to capture a fairy and hold it for ransom in exchange for gold to restore his family’s fortune.

[Designed by R3AP3RG1RL of DeviantArt.com]

     However, Artemis did not plan for his victim to be a combat-ready spitfire cop of the high-tech, highly-dangerous Lower Elements Police Recon (LEPrecon)… and he soon finds that holding captain Holly Short captive may be more trouble than it’s worth.

[Art by monotogne of DeviantArt.com]

     The rest of the series follows Artemis, Butler, Holly, and an entire host of their wisecracking companions as they go from being enemies to allies to friends and then enemies again. Life is complicated when you’re a criminal mastermind, after all.

     The eight books are as follows:
     1. Artemis Fowl
     2. The Arctic Incident
     3. The Eternity Code
     4. The Opal Deception
     5. The Lost Colony
     6. The Time Paradox
     7. The Atlantis Complex
     8. The Last Guardian

[Art by SharksDen of DeviantArt.com]

The Appeal

     Eoin Colfer’s modernized version of fairy-folk is fast-paced and brilliant, and his constant stream of snark and sarcasm throughout the books is almost enough to keep readers laughing too hard to narrate out loud to one another. He even lines the pages of his books with fairy language for super-fans to translate!

     However, perhaps the main attraction in this series is the title character himself: Artemis Fowl. Neither hero, nor villain, nor even antihero… Artemis is as brilliant and despicable and addicting as an eleven-year-old version of Sherlock Holmes. Every character around him is different, and their diversity slowly molds him as he grows from a preteen to a teenager to a young adult as the series progresses.

[Art by monotogne of DeviantArt.com]

     Whether he’s holding a fairy for ransom, fighting a troll, getting sucked into a time-travel vortex, extorting fellow criminals, or even developing multi-personality disorder, fans still find themselves rooting for Fowl.

The Rating

     The general series is probably PG, with a few PG-13 moments of mild language and body humor. It's great for readers just hitting their teens, and will keep adults intrigued as well.

     Violence: The action here is a mixture of sci-fi and modern criminal thrillers, but literary violence is different from film violence. The graphic novels show a fair amount of blood, because a lot does happen to these poor people. Characters are incinerated, mauled by monsters, beaten senseless, smashed by vehicles, blasted by missiles, and sometimes literally blown away by dwarf flatulence (I wish I was kidding).

     Sex: Interestingly enough, this series has more on the subject of sexism than anything else. Holly is the lone female officer of the LEP, and a large part of her struggle takes place just within her own brigade of bigoted male operatives. There’s little more in the way of romance than some flirting and an occasional kiss. Some minor characters do marry or have kids, but romance generally occurs in the background of all the action and mayhem of the saga, rather than being the main event.

     Language: Most fairy expletives are made in gnomish, like the not-so-ambiguous “D'Arvit.” But there are occasional uses of [mild] European curse words that might not be suitable for children under the age of 7 or so.

The Genre

     The genre is a colorful mix of sci-fi-fantasy, and it also involves some of the suspense that come with modern criminal thrillers.

     There are bloodthirsty trolls, laser guns, Russian gangsters, nerdy centaurs, nuclear missiles, escaping hostages, and enough witty banter to fill the Fowl mansion eight times over.

     There aren’t a ton of themes that the series revolves around, but simply by following the lives of its characters we learn more about loyalty, friendship, familial love, sacrifice, excellence, and other types of strength besides just the physical.

     So is it worth it?

The Decision

     You bet it is. Artemis Fowl may not have its own movie yet, but it’s still an addicting read and you’ll find yourself flying through the pages in no time. In fact, I think I'm about due for a re-read myself.

     I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like the series… if for no other reason than because of the Oscar-worthy sarcasm and memorable quotes that fly between the characters during their every waking moment.

     And if you’re still on the fence, just give it time. There are plenty of fan-made trailers on Youtube that might interest you if you’re more of a visual person (like myself). Some are better than others. One fan has made a pretty decent compilation of different film clips that provide a decent taste of Artemis Fowl, albeit with none of the wonderful snark.

     Another fan actually got some actors and props together to film a trailer that included actual quotes from the books. It was… okay. It was creative, certainly, but definitely homemade.


     In the end, I’d recommend that you at least sit down with the first book and give it a go, perhaps in a group of friends where you can read and laugh aloud together. Artemis Fowl is a modern fantasy that will keep you on your toes… whenever you’re not rolling across the floor in stitches of laughter, that is.


  1. A movie adaption was announced by Disney, but it may have been canceled. I don't see it on the Disney films list on Wikipedia anymore...

    1. Yeah, that was back in 2013 and it's just sort of faded into the distance since then...

  2. I LOOOOOVE Artemis Fowl. And it makes me happy. I love the graphic novels, and I miss my copies of my books, that are packed away in boxes. *sniffle* Still. If anyone is in doubt, the books are awesomesauce. That is all.