I worked at a recycling centre with a Take It or Leave It, Book Shed. I wish I had a picture to share, but it was a long time ago. It was a small aluminum building commonly used to hold lawnmowers and garden gnomes. There were three solid walls, and the fourth consisted mostly of the doorway. The shed was popular and frequented by many of the citizens who recycled. We would take turns tidying and organizing the shed, so it was easier for people to search for treasures to read. There were many copies of Artemis Fowl there, and I ended up reading the entire series from the shed. I didn’t have to worry about finding the next book in the series, as the children’s section had a high turnover rate. The city of full of voracious readers.
From the inside of the book jacket:
Criminal child mastermind? From Ireland! The front jacket already told me I would get to travel to Ireland and experience the magic from Artemis’s point of view. I loved the idea of a child criminal looking to take advantage of the fairy people and looked forward to experiencing the chaos Artemis was about to unleash.
Unlike the ebook, the paperback books contain the gnomish code at the bottom of the pages. A fun puzzle for those inclined to translate it.
You might notice the water stains at the bottom of the page, I picked this copy up at a used bookstore. Someone previously loved it either in the tub or maybe lakeside, as there was a bit of mould present as well. Don’t worry, I disinfected it:)
Artemis follows in his father’s footsteps as a criminal mastermind. The family fortune gone, Artemis has come up with the most clever of the scheme, to steal the fairy gold. Lacking parental supervision, his father has vanished and his mother mentally ill, Artemis, with support from Butler, his um, butler, searches for the means to refill the family coffers. He discovers fairies are real, finds a sprite who, in exchange for the return of her magic, lets him make a copy of The Book. The Book holds all rules for the fairy world, and with it, he hatches a plan to separate the fairy world from some of its gold.
This book has a fun antihero the reader must remember is twelve years old and therefore makes decisions a pre-teen would make. Solely focused on his own goals, he sets a trap to kidnap and ransom a fairy. Unfortunately for him, Captain Holly Short, a member of the LEPrecon Unit, will not sit quietly while he steals the gold. Holly is my favourite character, followed closely by Foaly, her centaur friend. Will Artemis be able to outsmart the fairy world and take their gold? Will Holly outsmart the boy genius?
From the beginning, I was on Holly’s side. Though Eoin Colfer did a good job of making me sympathize with Artemis and understand his drive to regain the family fortune. An ill mom and a missing dad will do that to you. To take control of his life without his parents, to remind him to consider if he should. Butler and his sister Juliet, both Butlers, were wonderful characters, but in the end, serve the family and therefore cannot be Artemis’s ethical compasses. It is only through his interactions with Holly, Artemis understands there is more to life than wealth and power.
I thought it would be fun to share a translation of the symbols at the bottom of the book. My daughter translated some of it, but this translation is from the Artemis Fandom site. It drove me crazy when I read the book that an important clue was sitting there waiting for me to unravel it.
Goblins shall rise and Haven shall fall.
A villainous elf is behind it all.
To find the one who so disappoints,
Look ye to where the finger points.
Instead of one face, this elf has two.
Both speak false and none speak true.
While publicly he lends a helping hand,
His true aim is to seize command.Eoin Colfer, translated by Artemis Fowl Fandom
When I heard the movie was coming out, I was overjoyed. I made my daughter watch the teaser often enough that she would roll her eyes when I brought it up. I then forgot about it as the pandemic combined with international living became more challenging. My daughter stayed with her cousins for a few weeks and watched it at their house. I asked, with bated breath, what it everything I hoped it would be? Did they bring the magic to life? Her answer, “It was okay.”
I decided we would watch it again together. After all, I still hadn’t seen it, and seeing it with a different crowd changes how we perceive movies, books, and TV shows. After we watched it together, I knew the truth, she was being kind.
It was not the story I loved. They reduced Butler to a soft butler who didn’t even want to be called Butler, the opposite of the books. It made me want to cry. No-fault lies with the acting. Whoever wrote the screenplay reduced his importance to the detriment of the story. Changing Butler’s sister Juliet to a niece was another loss. She lost her skill set; I missed the old character.
I didn’t even reread the book before the movie; I have made that mistake before. The movie story changes were so obvious, and not for the betterment of the story. I won’t watch any more movies in the series. It seemed they wanted the sole focus on Artemis and forgot the importance of team dynamics. I think ultimately, it will reduce the redemption arc Artemis had in the books, where he learned ethical behaviour and the importance of other people and fairies in his life. If you watched the movie first, prepare for different character development in the books.
Still, I will reread the book series and get the movie out of my head. I enjoyed it the previous times I reread Artemis’s adventures. I am sure I will enjoy them again.
If you are interested in a light adventure with a young male protagonist, I would suggest this series. Although I was not a fan of Artemis, I understood his reasoning and hoped he wouldn’t win the gold, but maybe a family in the end. His growth through the series was fun to watch and Eoin Colfer gave the supporting characters true depth in the book series.