Monday, November 19, 2012

Colfer, Eoin. Artemis Fowl. New York: Hyperion Books, 2001. Print.

Annotation:  Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old criminal mastermind…a ruthless, cold-hearted genius who uses his smarts to break the law…and make lots of money.  After finding proof that fairies do exist, Fowl is on the trail of the biggest treasure in the world; fairy gold.  His evil plan to kidnap a fairy in ransom for the gold seems to be going well -- until he meets an elf who just may be smarter than he is.  

Justification for Nomination:  Artemis Fowl by Irish author, Eoin Colfer, is like “Jimmy Neutron on steroids.”  This child prodigy is a true genius, but unlike good ole Jimmy, Artemis is cold, calculated, and cares nothing about being honorable, but everything about obtaining treasure. And, he’s good at it.  Medical experts all over the world are left dumbfounded and confused by his uncanny abilities.  Oh yes, it may have been better to keep a good eye on Artemis who was too smart for his own britches, but left to his own devices Fowl has created a terrible plan.  Learning that fairies are real, he designs a plan to kidnap a fairy for a ransom of gold, but not just any gold…one ton of 24K fairy gold.  After obtaining The Book of the People, the fairy “Bible,” which describes the history and teachings of their kind, Artemis discovers a ritual that leads him to his captive, Captain Holly Short, who possesses healing powers.  Unexpectedly, Fowl finds he has met his match in this elf, and stunningly, he begins to change his cold, clammy heart, but not before some serious intelligent rule-breaking occurs. 

Eoin Colfer has created a real gem in the Artemis Fowl series, eight books in total.  When we think of overly smart, young technical geniuses, it is easy to think of Jimmy Neutron, the big-haired adolescent on the popular animated television show, who builds spaceships, robots and gadgets.  Like Jimmy, Artemis is just too smart for his own good, but unlike Jimmy, Artemis has no time for kindness.  He is a 12-year-old with a seriously bad attitude, who prides himself in committing “dastardly acts.”  He makes no apologies for it.  Artemis is willing to do just about anything, including kidnapping, to get what he wants.  Initially, there are no feelings of remorse or regret or tweaks of the conscience, but as the story grows, there are changes, growing up themes that present themselves.  It is a story about good and evil, and the consequences of greed.  Artemis begins to soften and learn from others, namely his captive. 

Humor is a big plus in this story.  Colfer’s narration is funny, as well as the dialogue between characters.  Colfer is the “Artemis of humor” as he weaves the story.  The narration is fast moving and easy to read.  Young readers will enjoy this simplistic, humorous style of narration, but also the complexities of character, setting and fantasy world-building.  The story contains successful use of literary necessities in young adult reading  -- we have the ‘quest’ theme, the ‘who am I’ factor, the battle of conscience, good and evil, and consequences of decisions -- all done with a humorous, light edge that make this reading fun and difficult to put down.  With Artemis's change of heart, he just may become the James Bond of YA literature; he certainly has the smarts for it. 

Genre Category:  Nonfiction/Fantasy/Humor/Greed

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