I have to tell you that my review of this book is probably extremely biased because for me its connected to this special nostalgia we feel for things that brought us joy during our childhoods.
I first started listening to the audio books of the “Artemis Fowl” series by Eoin Colfer when I was a child and soon they became a usual part of our family vacations. We listened to all eight parts about the genius Artemis, the elf Holly, their (supernatural) friends and all the adventures they lived through.
Now as a grown woman with more experiences and more knowledge I have a different view of the world than twelve year old me and I read books that are a lot different than what I consumed back then. Still the “Artemis Fowl” series holds a special place in my heart because of all the fun I had listening to the stories and Rufus Beck’s fantastic narration of them.
The “Artemis Fowl” series is a children’s fantasy series which consists of eight books. I will only review the first book here but maybe I’ll review the others in the future when I re-read or re-listened to them. The books take place on the earth but in the world of “Artemis Fowl” there is a the Fairy People, a society of elves, trolls, dwarves, pixies, gnomes and other supernatural creatures living under ground.
After humanity took over more and more of the world, the supernatural creatures (commonly called the People) decided to go underground to avoid war and continue to live in peace. Additionally to their advanced technology the People of this parallel society also have some magical abilities, some strict ground rules and a huge portion of gold.
In the first book of the “Artemis Fowl” series Artemis Fowl, an evil genius and twelve year old heir to a criminal Irish dynasty, discovers their existence and plans to steal their gold to restore his family fortune. To get what he wants he kidnaps the elf Holly Short, first female officer of the Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance force (LEPrecon), to blackmail the People. But his plan does not go as planned because the Fairy People do not want to give up on their gold or Holly.
This first book is a quick and fast paced story. Although the series’ namesake and protagonist Artemis Fowl is introduced as the villain and stereotypical mastermind with criminal tendencies you can still empathize with him and enjoy his wit (and sometimes also his naivety). Holly Short, the second protagonist of the series, is just as lovable as Artemis. She is a passionate, smart fighter and embraces the clishé of the good cop that sometimes bends the rules to do the right thing.
The book also introduces the other characters who will reappear throughout the series. Eoin Colfer often uses stereotypes and common tropes for his cast of characters but with a wink. They are flawed and clishéd but also very entertaining and lovable. We have Artemis’ loyal body guard ironically named Butler, the paranoid centaur Foaly who likes to wear a tinfoil hat, the cleptomanic dwarf Mulch and Holly’s choleric boss Root who could be taken straight from an 80s cop movie.
For a child these characters are just very fun to follow. But for an adult it’s even more fun to see how the author plays around with and breaks these stereotypes. In the German audio book Rufus Beck’s narration adds to the depiction of these characters as he gives each of them a unique voice: Butler is growling, Foaly is neighing, Mulch has a Bavarian dialect and Root appears to be constantly screaming.
I really enjoyed listening to this audio book again so many years after I first fell in love with it. It’s funny and entertaining and also full of suspense as you keep guessing which of the two parties will win. Will Artemis get his gold or will the Fairy People free Holly Short?
However, there were also some things that I see more critically nowadays. Foaly (who was always one of my favourite characters) nicknames his co-workers ‘sweetie’ or promises to give them a kiss. As a child I saw this as an expression of his rather extravagant personality and mocking attitude towards his friends. Now it seems rather questionable (and a little more like workplace harassment).
Another thing that seemed strange to me nowadays is that Holly is the first female office of her police unit. Details like that show that the book was written quite a few years ago (20 to be exact). I think if it was written today she probably would not be the first and that there would be more women in the police force.
When it comes to the German audiobook of Artemis Fowl I also questioned Beck’s narration of the goblins. As a child I thought their very slang and Ghetto German accent was hilarious. However, today choosing this voice for the stupid and ciminal goblins seems to perpetuate racist and classist stereotypes.
Besides these minor flaws I’d still recommend reading the “Artemis Fowl” series if you’re into fantasy, children’s books or just looking for a quick, funny and entertaining story.
Have you read this book? If yes, what did you think about it?
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