I’ve decided to create another feature column here at Homekeeping Adventures: Book Reviews! Big Man and I are both avid readers, and we hope to instill that same love of books in Little Man and Little Lady. Our Little Ones are currently in the picture book phase, but in just a few years they’ll be old enough to appreciate having books read to them, and then to start reading on their own. I think one of the best ways to encourage reading is to make sure the kids have access to lots of good stories. And while there are some very good stories in the literature world, there are also a lot of mediocre books. In hopes of creating a list of great stories to pick from when our Little Ones are ready, I’ve decided to write reviews of the books I read and enjoy. I want to be able to remember the pros and cons of the storyline as well as the “maturity” level of each book. And I’ll be posting my reviews here in case they are useful to any other parents out there.
I read a wide range of genres, but recently I’ve been on a Young Adult Fiction kick which started when I read The Hunger Games Trilogy (review to come). I picked up the Kindle Edition of Artemis Fowl a couple months ago when it was Amazon’s free-for-the-day list and finished it recently. My review is as follows.
Book: Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, Book One)
Author: Eoin Colfer
More info: Amazon listing here*
Plot Overview: This book is the first in the Artemis Fowl series. Artemis is a twelve-year-old genius, a millionaire, and a criminal mastermind. His latest scheme involves kidnapping a fairy (Captain Holly Short) in hopes of collecting a large ransom. However, he gets more than he bargained for when the fairies of the LEPrecon Unit launch a rescue attempt.
Pros: The story is definitely creative, and the book is a fun and entertaining read. The fairy mythology Colfer has created is different than most “traditional” details about magical creatures (except trolls, which are pretty standard in every fantasy story I’ve read). I enjoyed the details about fairy history included in the book, and the whole concept of the LEPrecon Unit is a fun twist on the standard leprechaun. Some of the characters display positive traits, like mercy, courage, and love.
Cons: By the time I finished the book, there were more negatives than I had expected in the beginning. The biggest one is pretty obvious, in that Artemis is a full-fledged criminal yet he is not really portrayed in a negative light. While the author’s intent may have been to present the fairies as the heroes and Artemis as the villain, instead it was more like the story of two opposing sides, neither of which could really qualify as “good.” There is some mild language, including a fairy-language expletive that is used most often. Descriptions of violence and bodily functions are fairly common, which is not overly offensive but somewhat gratuitous. The humans-are-destroying-the-environment theme was a bit heavy-handed for my taste.
Summary: This book is the literary equivalent of a PG-rated popcorn flick. It is light and entertaining, with just enough content to pull a rating higher than G. The fairy mythology is intriguing, the characters are shallow but likable, and the plot is neatly wrapped up by the end of the book. I may pick up Book 2 in the series the next time I’m looking for something I can read in a couple days. Overall, I’d rank Artemis Fowl as a middle-of-the-road YA book. While it is better than a lot of other YA fiction, there are definitely much better stories out there.