How will two non-criminals view a book about the best fictional thief of our time? Check out Robert and Bryan’s review of Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer.

Bryan’s quick summary:

Artemis Fowl is a brilliant criminal mastermind, and he’s just turned 12. When he learns of a magical realm full of real, live fairies that’s also happens to be rich, he puts his brain to his most dastardly scheme of all. When he succeeds at capturing a fairy, his effort to ransom her off may put him and the entire world at more risk than he ever bargained.

Artemis Fowl is by Eoin Colfer

So what did we think? (From a reader’s perspective)

1. (Bryan) This was a blast to read. If you’re willing to suspend your disbelief about the 12-year-old mastermind, you’re in for a rollicking good time. I loved the world of the fairies that this book set up, and I’m sure it’s explored even further in later books. Not much of this stuck with me afterwards, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it a great deal.

2. (Robert) Crazy characters and fun abound in this rather ridiculous romp. Fowl turns out to be the protagonist we love to hate: slightly cruel; ruthless, VERY clever, and willing to use anyone and anything to achieve his aims. And did I mention he’s only 12 and has a personal butler – called Butler – who is the distilled essence of James Bond on steroids?

3. (Robert) This story is bursting with hilarious characters and funny lines. If you like Terry Pratchett, or Douglas Adams, Artemis Fowl is a great read. There are the wonderfully quirky gadgets in fairy-land (under the Earth’s crust of course. Where else?), the super-cranky Commander, a centaur who is more like “Q” from James Bond – how on earth does he make super-cool gadgets when he only has hooves? (was this where Colfer gained his inspiration? The marriage of Bond and Potter?) Then there’s Captain Holly … our antagonist … but not really. She’s almost the fairy mirror of Fowl: determined, ambitious, stubborn, single minded … and when the two do battle, it’s fun to watch the spectacle.

What did we think from a writer’s perspective?

1. (Bryan) We’ve talked about it time and time again that a book needs to transport you somewhere if it’s going to be a big hit. This book transported us deep beneath the Earth and told us about a new race living beneath our very feet. That definitely qualifies as immersive. Also, several characters were so great, particularly the gruff captain and the butler named Butler. Lots of things to learn about characterization with those two.

2. (Robert) This is not a deep and meaningful story: it’s a romp, just like Heist Society is. Oddly, there are some quite adult moments that seemed jarring. Fowl is a little too overly cruel for a kids book, and Butler’s “death” is unnecessarily gory (again, for the age group). But I loved it, a great read, and I’ll read all the others eventually!

3. (Robert) There’s quite a varied cast and multiple points of view (and head-hopping!), which makes finding a voice tricky. Colfer does this sublimely, and I was never in any doubt whose head I was “in” when the POV changed. A deftly thought-through story and a nice “reveal” at the end that wasn’t overly obvious (though not especially believable either! Why hadn’t anyone figured this out before????).

Bryan and Robert’s Famous Takeaways:

1. (Robert) You’d think Harry Potter had put the lid on development of other human vs magical world stories – but, as readers prove time and again, there can never be too many entertaining books in the world. For children who are voracious readers, aged 12+, this is good fun stuff.

2. (Bryan) There’s no need to make a plot overly complicated. Keep things simple, short, and sweet, and your younger and older readers will appreciate it.

3. (Robert) Just because a story isn’t high-falutin’, doesn’t mean it is NOT well-crafted. I felt the dialog, scene-progressions and characterizations were spot on. And that takes work.

Prompt of the Week:

Your main character is not an adult, and possesses a singular determination to achieve a lofty goal, just like Fowl’s desire for gold to restore his family’s fortune. What magical forces and creature stand in their way, and what will your hero be forced to learn to defeat them?

Write your response to the prompt or the show in the comments!

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