May 29, 2006
Amid the furror over the Harry Potter books, there is a series geared toward young readers that is consistently being missed. The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer is entertaining reading that should be at the top of any teenager's reading list.
The first book, simply titled Artemis Fowl, sets the stage well. We meet Artemis himselfa deviously clever 12-year-old, far more inteligent than his years, and too intelligent by far for the good of anyone he meets. He is the heir to the Fowl family fortuneand the criminal empire that obtained that fortune. He has hit upon the idea of a lifetimehe's discovered the existance of the world of fairy folk, and is intent on exploiting that world for his own gain.
The second book is entitled The Arctic Incident. The setting should be obvious from that titlewhat isn't is how our heroes get there. Artemis' father. who was missing and presumed dead, has been foundand is being held by the Russian Mafia. Artemis needs the help of the fairy folk from book one to pull off a rescue attempt that is so crazy that it just might work ...
The third book, The Eternity Code, is (in my opinion) the weakest of the series so far. Artemis' latest get rich quick scheme is to sell fairy technology on the open market. He's double-crossed, and the fairy realm is in danger of being discovered by men! So it's off to his friends from the LEP to try and save the world one more time.
I just finished reading book four, The Opal Deception. Artemis has lost all memory of the fairy realm, and is back to his old self. But something's wrong in the fairy realm, and this time, the fairy folk need Artemis' help!
The characterization in the series is outstanding, as we see Artemis mature and change from a greedy pre-teen to an almost-mature teenager. The supporting cast is also well-written, especially Butler. Though the third volume was a bit disappointing, the fourth more than made up for it, and I'm looking forward to reading the next installment. Collectors may want to take note: the hardcover versions of the books have messages written in code at the bottom of each page. As far as I know, the key is only in the first book, but it's fairly easy to break the code without the key (and much more fun).
Teenagers and pre-teens need more good books to read, and parents need to know that Harry isn't the only game in town. Artemis Fowl is an excellent series, recommended to kids of all ages.
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