Nick and I are currently reading the seventh book in the Artemis Fowl series, Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex. We actually interrupted a dip back into the Rangers Apprentice series–we were reading Erak’s Ransom following Siege of Macindaw, which I wrote about previously) when Nick received this latest Artemis book from his aunt, uncle and cousins as a Christmas gift.
It’s hard to explain the zany premise to the Artemis series. Author Eoin Colfer himself called it “Die Hard with fairies.” These are not the ethereal fairies that preschoolers love, and they’re not the helpful fairies that moms hope to discover did their dishes during the night. They are fairies (and dwarfs, and goblins) who live in The Lower Elements and get mixed up with teenage criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl. Not serious literature by any means, the Artemis books are clever and funny, and the emphases on technology, adventure, and a bit of low (not lewd) humor mean the books are well-loved by middle school readers. While this is not really my genre, I’m not immune to the dry wit and sly social commentary. I manage to get drawn to characters who would only sound silly and one-dimensional if I tried to describe them–but which somehow are compelling and real enough that I care what happens to them as they time travel, have technical and magical mishaps, and get in intense battles to save the world–and their best friends.
We read and enjoy a wide range of novels. I admit that I’m more drawn to books like the Little House books, To Kill a Mockingbird, Where the Red Fern Grows, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry and so on. What do you expect from a former college English teacher–in other words, an English major mom and reading geek? And really, Nick loves those books too, and we talk about them forever. They are books that become a part of us. But I thoroughly enjoy these romps through contemporary best seller tongue-in-cheek kidlit.
After we finish romping with Artemis, we’ll get back to the Ranger’s Apprentice title. We tried to keep reading Erak’s Ransom, we really did. But it has the unfortunate quality of being a prequel to several other books, even though it is later in the series. Erak’s Ransom is the author’s attempt to flesh out some earlier years in the ranger’s life, but we readers–who have read the earlier books (which are later in chronological time) know the characters survive to take part in the later stories, which sort of takes the zing out of the life-or-death cliff hangers. And which Nick keeps pointing out, showing that his suspension of disbelief is having trouble staying suspended, despite his willingness to suspend. Still, I’m sure we’ll learn some juicy tidbits about Ranger Will’s life and enjoy the adventures, and we’ll definitely try the next book in the series. But that will definitely have to wait until we figure out how Artemis Fowl will work with the magical underground to counteract global warming while dealing with being obsessed by multiples of five due to contracting the Atlantis Complex illness.
Nick will be disappointed to hear that I’ve found that The Atlantis Complex, released this past summer, is the next-to-last book Colfer plans for the Artemis Fowl series. But we’ve already read and liked some of Colfer’s non-Artemis books, so we’ll just hope he keeps writing.