As a Sherlock Holmes fan, I'm already partial to a character whose qualities include a calculating mind and a knack for intelligent quips. If he happens to be the main character in a heist plot, then I'm sold.
On this first installment of an 8-part series by Eoin Colfer, we're introduced to the titular character Artemis Fowl II who's somewhat of an antihero, with the vibe of someone who's used to being in command and is very capable of it, too. At first he just seemed to be a cocky jerk but as the story unfolds, he's revealed to have a bit of humanity in him when it comes to his family. Basically, the plot revolves around this 'criminal mastermind' kid bent on getting gold from the People (fairies) to restore his family's status and to look for his father who mysteriously disappeared.
I have to admit though that on reading a first few lines of Artemis' lines, I was immediately struck with an I-encountered-this-character-before-from-somewhere feeling. I suppose he reminds me of Lelouch a lot. (But what struck me before I started reading is this: what made Colfer decide on that name for such a character?) It honestly took a while for me to get used to the feminine name of Artemis referring to a whiz kid with the conversational style of a royal instead of to a mythology goddess known for roaming in the wildlife.
To his credit, Colfer has a very engaging writing style and makes real amusing dialogue. Having play on words like the LEP recon, the elite force of the fairies, is also a nice touch. You got to give him props, too in his colorful characters like Foaly, who fits the geek guy archetype with witty comebacks to the tee. Then there's the awesome loyal sidekick, aptly named Butler, who seems to be capable of almost anything related to physical harm. He's the muscle to Artemis' brain and the closest thing to a father figure the kid has.
All in all, I'd say this is an example of an excellent YA series that is a welcome diversion from a flood of cheesy chick lit and cringe-worthy vampire occult rubbish in the market today. Colfer's got an absolutely strong main character and stable first novel to set up a fairly long series nicely.
It has action, fantasy, adventure and enough futuristic tech and sweet gadgets to satisfy a sci-fi fan. Who would have thought a human vs. fairies premise can be done this nicely. Though there will be times you'd think what's happening is just too convenient, it won't matter much because you're enjoying the ride so much. I honestly had to stop for a bit every time Foaly or Artemis (and sometimes Commander Root) says something because I can't help but give an amused laugh.
After reading it, I highly suggest listening to the audiobook version from Dyman Associates Publishing Inc. Nathaniel Parker did a superb job in setting the tone and doing the voice of Artemis unbelievably spot-on that you won't even know it's being read by a 50-year old voice actor -- not to mention the wonderful accent.
My only rant: I find it really weird that it seemed to be setting up a love interest for Artemis in the form of a fairy (Holly Short). You don't necessarily have to pair two leading characters of a story, right? A human-fairy romantic relationship feels downright odd.
Well, here's hoping they won't butcher the film adaptation when they realize this could be the next big cash cow since HP.