Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, a Review

Artemis Fowl
by Eoin Colfer, Hyperion Books for Children, 2001, 277 pages

Worldview: Amoral. The “good guy” is a criminal. This is bound to confuse younger readers.

Style: A young adult novel with plenty of action to keep readers turning pages.

Review: Artemis Fowl is the name of a 12-year-old genius who is also a criminal mastermind. As the high-action story unfolds, it becomes clear that Artemis is, in fact, the hero–we find ourselves cheering for his nefarious plots. This is a confusing position to put a child reader into!

We also cheer for his victims, who are morally upstanding members of the fairy police. Artemis eventually makes friends with these members of the fairy police, so that the book emphasizes tribal or friendship loyalty as a supreme virtue. It puts other moral no-nos, such as thievery and deception, on the “naughty but OK” list. There are two successful thieves in the book whom the author clearly likes: Artemis and a dwarf. Also, the word “damn” appears in the book. In addition, the author makes up a fairy swear word and has his fairy police using it all the time.

Your children will probably check the Fowl books out and read them, if they have library access. My kids all have. The reason is that, despite the amoral framework, this book is a good read. The characters are memorable, there is plenty of action, and the story has a zany science-fiction quality to it.

Artemis and his bodyguard Butler are seeking to kidnap a fairy and hold it for ransom, in order to enhance the depleted family fortune. Turns out the fairies have mostly left the surface of the earth to colonize the center of the earth, driven below-ground by human activity. Their advanced technology allows them to travel back and forth to the surface.

Artemis and Butler manage to kidnap a fairy police woman named Holly Short. Ransom is eventually paid, and partly stolen by the dwarf thief At the end, Holly is released, Artemis is rich, and so is the dwarf. On the way, Holly has saved Butler’s life and that of Butler’s sister. And she heals Artemis’ depressed mother. All’s well that ends well. Or is it?

This imaginative story will draw your teen in. Be sure to discuss the world view.–Phyllis Wheeler thumbsdown

9 thoughts on “Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, a Review

  1. Heather Smith

    I have read all the Artemis Fowl books, and even though Artemis is a criminal in the beginning he finds himself striving to do good within the next books, not doing things for personal gain anymore. He starts to care about the wellfare of others and isn’t exactly a criminal anymore. I suggest you read the other books in the series to get a full understanding of these books, as obviously the first one doesn’t do it justice. Thank you.

  2. Andrew Adams

    Artemis could definitely be considered both the good and bad guy in the first book, however Artemis throughout the series even in the first book slowly changes his moral prospective of things. What I felt from the series was that you have a Character who has extraordinary talent who uses it for the wrong reasons he was young and had a rough childhood alone with a sick mother and no friends. For me a christian with few friends in the type of society we live in today I found Artemis a character I could relate to and at the time when I started reading these books I happened to be close to Artemis’s age. Life is not black and white with right or wrong, well some things are but not all. Today especially in our youth we need to challenge young readers with ideas to help them become well rounded individuals who won’t be swayed by every new opinion that they come across. I don’t know that Eoin intended for the book to come across as I have portrayed it but the end result is that it did. And I have to say that I would recommend this book and the series to readers of all ages

  3. Kim

    As a parent of four daughters, two sets seven years apart, I check everything that comes into my house. I have to say I am pretty strict about certain things. I don’t accept the witch and warlock stuff or sex of any kind. I am pretty strict about language and violence but give a little more room when the book has a good overall tone. I have a hard time with books authored to cater to children and teens that are inappropriate from the get go (i.e.: Beastly, The Twilight Series, The Hunger Games trilogy). I do however choose my battles with my kids so yes, one daughter has read The Hunger Games (she loved them) and my oldest daughters read the Twilight books once they turned eighteen. I check all the best spots for reviews from a Christian perspective and think I choose pretty wisely. I just found your review of the Artimis Fowl series and was disappointed that you wrote so harshly about it. First of all I not only loved the writing style but thought it had great overall values that my kids took to heart. The story is not just about getting rich from thievery and healing his “depressed” mother. The money is always used for good really and his mother is not depressed, she is seriously ill. Further reading lets you find out later in the series that his mother has an illness that came from being poisoned by an angry fairy that traveled through time. It’s fiction and it’s fairytale redefined. No witchcraft or sorcery, no sexual content and certainly no anti-Christian message. You are never misled by the author as to the fact that the main character is a super genius child who deals with the fairy world. I found my girls yearning to hear more and they never felt confused about the message. The way it is written is very clear that stealing is wrong, violence is wrong and deception is wrong. The thing you see is the line between right and wrong clearly put before you and the choices made by Artimis having outcomes that don’t always work out for him. This made making good choices easier for my girls because Artimis learned valuable lessons each time he made poor choices with unknown outcomes. By the latter books he actually started making choices based on what would happen to all parties involved and therefore made better choices. I really feel these books deserve a second look. I agree with Andrew, life is not black and white and we all need to see the gray area to better understand. Please keep reviewing books, I enjoy all perspectives and respect all views.

  4. Editor Post author

    I am so glad to have your perspective! I know that it will help others will their choices. Please keep commenting!

  5. sakuraku rahime

    Hello, uhm I am reading the artemis fowl books. I love them so much! Its everything that I hoped it would be, but my book I just got. Number two the arctic incident. It has some faulties in the book requiring the pages. Can you email me and I would like to discuss it. Hoping that all the copies are not like this. It is stopping me from reading thesee books I love so much. Thank you 🙂

  6. Editor Post author

    Hello Sakura,
    You need to talk to the publisher, I think. Sorry I won’t be able to help!

  7. Anonymous

    Seriously, some of you people don’t even try with your comments.
    “If you read later books you find out there’s nothing anti-christian”.
    However, you’ve already condemned anything that uses magic or
    warlockery, so how do you explain away the demons later on
    that straight-up use magic. Is that not the very definition
    of what you said was bad?

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