Published: April 1, 2003
Series: Artemis Fowl #1
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade(?)
Pages: 396 (Paperback)
My Rating: 4.0/5.0
Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius, and above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn’t know what he’s taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren’t the fairies of bedtime stories—they’re dangerous! Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl is a riveting, magical adventure.
After the Artemis Fowl movie was released on Disney+ I decided to do a quick refresh of what was one of my favorite childhood books before I watched the movie. I had probably read this book 5 or 6 times as a youngling and even so, the details were a little fuzzy. It was a quick read and I quickly remember why I loved it so much and marveled at how it leaned a little more YA than middle grade and how it probably shaped my taste in books.
I mean really, if you have kids aged 10 or older (and maybe even younger) who love to read this is a fantastic book. Heck, I loved it as a late twenty-something and found it had withstood the test of time ridiculously well.
Artemis Fowl is a twelve year old criminal mastermind, set on starting his own criminal empire and restoring his family’s fading fortunes by stealing fairy gold. In order to do this, he must capture a fairy and do some serious negotiating. This is where LEPrecon captain Holly Short comes in. She’s the first female Lower Elements Police officer and she’s one of the recon members who wrangle fairies that have illegally gone top-side into the human world. It’s after a recon mission that she’s captured by Artemis and then the real fun begins. There’s a kleptomaniac dwarf and eats and then… expels… dirt/rock/other matter, a crazed troll, and a whole swarm of LEP officers that provide both tension and comedic relief. This is not to mention Domovoi Butler and his little sister Juliet who have trained for years so that they might protect the Fowl lineage. Both Butlers are master marksmen, trained in hand-to-hand combat, and numerous other martial skills and are quite likable despite their formidable skillset.
The plot is quite good and is succinctly wrapped up in a single book. There are further books that (obviously) expand the story and bring in new and old characters alike, though I will admit that I thought the series went downhill after the third book and stopped reading after the fourth book. I must say, youngling me was still wise in the way of the series DNF.
I will also note that while the movie kept certain elements of the plot, particularly those surrounding the Holly Short hostage situation, the writers/directors changed so many things that made this book so appealing to little me. I mean, a young criminal mastermind and his cool Russian bodyguard became a little boy trying to save his father by any means necessary and his bodyguard who was a big dude, but not quite as scary as book Butler. Also, they changed Commander Root from a raging, cigar smoking old man fairy to the much less intimidating Judi Dench, thus also taking away Holly’s success at being the first female LEPrecon member. That being said, it was a cute movie and I still enjoyed it for what it was.