Sunday, 1 August 2010
Review: Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer
ARTEMIS FOWL’S CRIMINAL WAYS HAVE FINALLY GOT THE BETTER OF HIM...
Criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl has summoned an elite group of fairies to Iceland. But when he presents his invention to save the world from global warming, he seems different. Something terrible has happened to him... Artemis Fowl has become nice.
The fairies diagnose Atlantis Complex (that’s multiple-personality disorder to you and me) – dabbling in magic has damaged his mind. And now the subterranean city of Atlantis is under attack from vicious robots and nice Artemis cannot fight them. Can fairy ally Captain Holly Short get the real Artemis back - before the mysterious robots destroy the city and every fairy in it?
It was with some sadness that I recently read that Eoin Colfer has announced that he intends to bid farewell to Artemis Fowl, with the latest outing for the his popular anti-hero, Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex, being the penultimate book in the series. However, having since read this latest episode I am now of the mind that Mr Colfer is right to be doing this. The Atlantis Complex, in comparison with others of the genre, is still a good read and will be thoroughly enjoyed by the myriad young fans of the series, but in comparison with the rest of the series it is a relatively poor relation. I am left with the feeling that the series has perhaps run its course and now that Artemis is fifteen there are not many more places that the author can take his leading boy/man.
That opening paragraph may seem a little negative, but that is only because I have come to expect the very best from Eion Colfer, eagerly awaiting every new Aretmis Fowl adventure, and until now never feeling disappointed. I am still trying to figure out the reason why I am not so enamoured with The Atlantis Complex. I think it may be that this book feels a lot more grown up, and therefore some of the magic has been lost. We also do not see as much of the Artemis we have come to know and love as he is suffering from what we would term a mental illness, and what the fairies call Atlantis Complex. As such, Artemis has become paranoid (even to the point of distrusting the ever-loyal Butler), he is suffering from OCD (manifesting itself in a phobia-like avoidance of anything related to the number 4) and then his personality changes completely and he becomes the sickly nice Orion. Mental illness in a book like this is a rare thing, and even rarer to be treated with the sensitivity that the author affors this issue. Lesser authors would have had their character acting the fool and being ridiculed, but Eoin Colfer has us instead feeling like we are watching the decline and suffering of a close family member.
Things get pretty dark in this book if you read it at an adult level and maybe that is my problem - I was not reading it as a child. However, although I feel some of the magic has gone, this is certainly not the case for the Colfer trademark humour - there are just as many laugh out loud moments in this book as there were in its predecessors. The author knows exactly when to inject humour into a scene, whether it be to lighten a dark moment or to create rapport between characters, and the book is chock full of oneliners that will have your children giggling away.
The plot of The Atlantis Complex is also not quite as strong as in previous episodes. For me it just doesn't seem to flow as naturally as in these earlier books and there are elements that seem a little forced or over-contrived. Again, this is not something a young fan would notice or care about, but I personally expect more from this author.
Many of the characters that we have come to know so well are present in The Atlantis Complex, and they are just as colourful and funny as usual. There is a scene set in Mexico towards the beginning of the book where Butler has rushed to what he thinks is the aid of his sister Juliet which is amongst the funniest I have ever read from Eoin Colfer, and the banter between these two is a joy to read. We are also treated to more of Foaly than we have become used to in the past, with him now finding himself out in the field, and in his disdain at the Orion/Artemis personality issue he delivers many more classic oneliners.
As I have already mentioned, Eoin Colfer intends to write only one more Artemis Fowl novel, about which he has said "There's not going to be any huge battle, and going up the stairs to heaven, it's not going to be that kind of finish. There will be the big adventure, but the end will be in a little epilogue. End of story." Fortunately it doesn't therefore look like Mr Colfer intends to kill off his main characters; I do not know when this book will be published but I hope that it will end the series in a way that is satisfying to the thousands of Artemis Fowl fans out there. The full article from which that quote was taken can be found at The Guardian website.
Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex is a book that will be enjoyed by thousands of young readers and despite my criticisms it is a must-read for any young fan of the series but adult fans my find themselves feeling slightly disappointed. The book is published by Puffin and is available in stores right now. Thanks go to the generous people at Puffin for sending me a copy to review.