Another remarkable Young Adult series ends after 11 years. Aside from Harry Potter, the Artemis Fowl series is just one of the few novels I truly grew up reading (and collecting.) I remember when my parents bought me the books – a collection of the first three - it was summer and as per custom, Mom, Ally and I spent it at Dubai with Dad. Mom spotted an ad in the newspaper of a book sale – a bazaar really – which would take place near the Church close to where we stayed. Naturally, we went – since Mom and I are book lovers and she could never miss out on a sale, no matter where she is.
There was something… wicked in the way I acquired the books. I saw it on top of a cart, which I initially thought was used as storage container rather than a shopping basket because it was piled to the brim and left in an obtrusive part of the bazaar. I saw the three books – a boxed set – on the top, priced for a mere 30 Dirhams – that’s about 450 Pesos only. And considering that one book, a YA novel at that, would cost at about P300 at the cheapest, I knew I had quite a find – or literally, as my Dad and I found out after paying, a steal. Because as the saleslady was packing our purchase, my Dad and I overheard the lady beside us complaining to the cashier that she had reserved a boxed set of the – you guessed it – Artemis Fowl books. Oops. What’s good is that they never found out we bought it – but even if they did, well, I had the receipt of purchase.
It was a stroke of luck that the books “came to me.”
What I love about this series is that it mixed fantasy and faery lore with technology and kick-ass saving-the-world plans (or conspiracies) – an amalgamation of old fantasy and science fiction. I always thought it was ingenious the way Colfer invented (or reinvented) terms such as the LEPRecon and mesmer, or how he designed the People as being more technologically advanced compared to humans, but still retain magic and old traditions and are environmentally-conscious as well. The plot is ingenious, really, and combined with unforgettable characters and winning lines, it’s a sure hit with me.
Last Wednesday night, after a session of mind-boggling analysis (that of which will not be discussed in this blog), I finished reading the last book of the Artemis Fowl Series: Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian. Like the previous books, it was one that you simply can’t put down. Fast-paced and action-packed with a scattering of humor and witty lines and the overly detailed description of various technologies used by the fairies, the final book is brimming to the core with the best of Eoin Colfer’s writing and imagination. The time duration of the book spans only to a few hours and so every page is jam-packed with adrenaline rush moments succeeding a cunning (though in this case, last minute) master plan.
Artemis, Holly and Butler, together with Foaly and Mulch, try to save the day again in this novel. The fate of the entire human race depends on them stopping Opal Koboi from opening the second lock which would destroy all the humans and supposedly keep the People “safe” – though at the moment, they are facing a crisis of their own thanks to her. Opal’s new henchmen turn out to be the Berserkers, fairy warriors who sacrificed themselves during the last battle between humans and the People. The stage for this story is in the grounds of the Fowl Manor, and some of the souls of the Berserkers occupy the bodies of Juliet, Myles and Beckett. With limited time, weaponry and considering the gravity and finality of the situation, Artemis Fowl may have just reached his limit.
Artemis had often told his little brother that intelligence will always win out in the end, and there was nobody more intelligent than Artemis.
Unfortunately, after the events of the past six hours, Artemis did not have the same faith in his own maxim that he used to. And, as Myles told his story, Artemis began to believe that even his intelligence would not be enough to forge a happy ending from the mess they were mired in.
Perhaps we can win, he thought. But there will be no happy ending.
To be honest, I was quite a bit disappointed with the ending of book. Although I admit I enjoyed reading it because it reminded me of the things that I love about this series, but as it is the final book, I had have higher expectations of it. I thought it wasn’t the best book in the series (the last novels usually aren’t) but because of the way it ended, I was disappointed.
I love the characters in this novel because all of them are fresh and unique and unlike the stereotypical characters in YA novels. Holly is one of the best female protagonists I’ve ever encountered and I love that Colfer has made her so bad ass without expounding on her “hotness” or making all male characters fall in love with her – granted that this is not a romance novel but still! Butler is unlike any “bodyguard” I’ve read about because for once, the guardian has a personality and does not remaining stoic. Foaly is no ordinary erm… computer technician. He’s a smart-ass with a heroic streak which we finally see beyond his control room this time around. Mulch Diggums is the court jester of the series and I’m glad to see him acquire new strengths in this novel. What I like about Colfer is that he gives even his supporting characters “exposure time” in this novel and throughout the series, they develop as much as the protagonist changes.
There are two minor characters who stole the show though. They’re the adorable twins, Myles and Beckett Fowl. I will always have a soft spot for younger brothers (at least 7 years old and below!) in novels and in real life. Myles is like a mini-Artemis Fowl, though I doubt he would undergo a criminal-phase, and Beckett, the “simple-toon” is the unruly and energetic Fowl twin. I love how their personalities shine – though briefly because for the most part of the book, they were inhabited by a Berserker – even with minor roles to play.
“Artemis! Get me out of here!” he ordered. “These are my favorite loafers!”
Artemis smiled. His little brother was back in control of his own mind.
Myles would not speak until he had cleaned his shoes with a wet wipe. “That fairy ran through the mud in my shoes,” he complained, sipping a second glass of acai juice. “These are kidskin shoes, Arty.”
“He’s quite precocious, n’est-ce pas?” Artemis whispered from the side of his mouth.
“Look who’s talking, plume de ma tante,” Butler whispered right back at him.
Couldn’t have said it better myself, Butler.
Opal spread her arms wide, allowing the black magic to pulse in orange cables along her limbs. “Are you not terrified, boy?”
Beckett hopped monkeylike into his version of a ninja pose. “Nope. You should be terror-fied.”
“Me?” said Opal, laughing. “You cannot harm me. The fairy bonds prevent it.”
Beckett punched Opal in the stomach, from the shoulder like Butler had taught him. “Oh yeah. I’m pretty fast. Faster than your stupid fairy bonds. Butler says I’m a natch-u-ral.”
Opal’s breath left her in a huff and she stumbled backward, cracking her elbow on the Berserker Gate’s raised dais. Luckily for her, the fairy bonds kicked in and Oro reclaimed control of the body; otherwise four-year-old Beckett Fowl might have put an end to Opal’s world domination plans right there.
As for the protagonist, Artemis Fowl the Second, it’s apparent that the juvenile criminal mastermind has truly changed since the beginning of the series. Artemis has evolved from an antihero in the first novel to a, dare I say it, martyr in the final one which I truly thought was an apt role for the child genius. He is an extremely complex character, and not because of his high intellect or that of his recent Atlantis Complex, because, in words similar to Foaly’s I still don’t know what makes this guy tick. Aside from finding the good in him, Artemis remains to be a proud know-it-all with two left feet. His smart comebacks, though lacking in malice, hasn’t changed and for that I am grateful – he hasn’t turned into a wimp. Artemis has just become more compassionate.
In this novel, however, I was staggered to find out Artemis Fowl’s weakness. Must be because at that time, I was already at 3/4 of the novel and things were looking… hopeless.
Holly saw that her words were not penetrating Artemis’s skull, and she realized that Artemis had two major weaknesses: One, he was physically hamstrung not only by his hamstrings but also by a lack of coordination that would have embarrassed a four-year-old; and two, he was so confident in the superiority of his own intellect that he rarely developed a plan B. If plan A proved to be a dud, there was no fallback.
Then I thought it would be impossible for Colfer to end the novel with the triumph of “evil.” As Artemis began formulating a last minute plan – which includes sacrificing his own life – I began to wonder if he will truly die. The saving the world part, that I was sure of. As for Artemis surviving or outwitting the situation, that I wasn’t sure. I really really believed he would die.
In the last few moments before the big shebang, Colfer gave us this Arty-Holly moment.
“Please, Arty,” she mumbled. “Let me…” but she said no more as her lips had turned to slack rubber.
Artemis nearly broke—she could see it in his mismatched eyes, one human, one fairy—but then he stepped away from the couch and breathed deeply.
“No. It has to be me, Holly. If the second lock is opened, then I will die, but if my plan succeeds, then all fairy souls inside the magical corona will be drawn to the afterlife. Fairy souls. My soul is human, Holly, don’t you see? I don’t intend to die, and there is a chance that I may survive. A small chance, granted. But a chance nonetheless.” Artemis rubbed his eye with a knuckle. “As a plan, it is far from perfect, but there is no alternative.”
Artemis made Holly comfortable with cushions. “I want you to know, my dear friend, that without you, I would not be the person I am today.” He leaned in close and whispered, “I was a broken boy, and you fixed me. Thank you.”
I admit, with what has happened in The Time Paradox and a bit in The Atlantis Complex, I shipped them. But I also knew it was impossible, really. Another great development in this series is Artemis and Holly’s friendship – you only see that kind of love in a few YA books.
The plot was fast paced, but I didn’t like that the first half of the adventure with Artemis, Holly and Butler in transit while Opal prepared for the attacks above ground. There were scatterings of humor, like when Butler and Artemis get into a bit of a squabble because Artemis wasn’t doing as he promised, and unanticipated tales, like Holly’s disaster dates with Trouble, Mulch rediscovering with his ancestors’ past and Foaly and Caballine’s story. The twist the ending – not in the ‘outwitting’ plot since it was quite obvious what Artemis had in mind for his “last stand” – was one that I did not expect but welcomed, of course. In fact, now that I am writing about it, there’s only one big reason why I was disappointed in this book.
Why? It lacked an epilogue!
Although it was a nice touch that Colfer ends the book with Holly narrating Artemis’ story with the starting passages from the first novel, I didn’t like it that on the last page, Artemis is… vulnerable. He had forgotten, or was still in the process of remembering what had happened. I didn’t like it. And though Holly, Butler and Foaly were present in the ending, I also wanted to see Mulch, No. 1, Juliet and the twins. I thought that it was just as important that they be there during that moment (Especially Mulch!)
The book concluded with a drastic technological change for both human and fairy. I wondered how all of them fared, and how Artemis adapted to it all.. I wanted to know if and how Artemis kept in touch with the People, especially with Holly, Foaly and Mulch. I wanted to know if his parents knew of the existence of fairies, and of his history with them. I wanted to know how they lived the rest of their lives, assumingly in peace.
I was sad to see the series end. But I was even more depressed when given that unsatisfying ending. I need more of Artemis Fowl! And for that, I guess I’d have to resort to rereading the books from the beginning or fanfiction.
Because it’s not so often you read about an extraordinary boy genius (but I guess the two left feet is stereotypical) and his faery friends (who are more technologically advanced than modern humans) fighting to save the world.
… or even less when the hero starts off as a criminal mastermind.