An arch-criminal, fairy cop, and butler bodyguard walk into a plot.
With the eighth Artemis Fowl book coming out in July, I have a perfect excuse to revisit one of my favorite YA series. These books are a whole lot of fun and perfect for anyone who loves an anti-hero protagonist in its YA, a whole lot of plotting and action, and a story that takes a classic concept (like fairies) and spins it on its head.
Since it was published, the Artemis Fowl series has sold over 8 million copies and has been listed among the People Magazine Top 10 Book Series for 2004. No surprise.
Artemis Fowl (book #1)
Artemis Fowl is a millionaire and a criminal mastermind—and he’s only twelve years old. He’s just young enough to believe in fairies, and just devious enough to hatch a plot to kidnap one. He’ll let the fairy go, of course, but only after he gets a pot of fairy gold as ransom. But these fairies aren’t all rainbow and glitter, as he finds out when he snatches Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. They’re dangerous, they wear jetpacks, and when it comes to protecting them own, they mean business.
Fun world building, clever word-play, and a super-creative concept. Colfer has characterized his fast-paced novel as “Die Hard with fairies” and I couldn’t agree more. If you love dastardly plots, high-tech magic, and rollicking adventures with a delightful range of hilarious characters, this recipient of the 2004 Young Reader’s Choice Award is the book for you.
The Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl #2)
Artemis’ father has been legally declared dead after he went missing on an arctic expedition. But Fowl junior knows his father has to be alive, held captive by the Mafiya, and it’s up to Artemis to find him and bring him back.
After the fiasco of the events of the last book, Captain Short has been assigned to Customs and Excise–mind-numbing and boring. In no time, she’s desperate to fly the coup (literally) and see some action.
What she doesn’t know is that she hasn’t seen the last of that villainous twelve-year-old who landed her in all this trouble in the first place.
Hands down, this is theothercanary’s favorite book in the series. And that is a remarkable thing to say, as normally she tries to torch second books in the series. But in some ways, The Artctic Incident feels like the first book of the series, as though the original was just a warm up. This is where Holly and Artemis actually form a (grudging) relationship and where we see Artemis actually start to show maybe a glimmer of soul. Characters are fleshed out, story lines are set into place for the rest of the series, and Colfer hits his pun-y stride. It’s a great book to settle into and get ready for the rest of the tales to come.
The Eternity Code (Artemis Fowl #3)
Artemis Fowl has a lot of time on his hands. So he’s gone ahead and built a super-computer from stolen fairy technology. But when his plot to use his computer-cube to blackmail Jon Spiro, a ruthless Chicago businessman, falls apart and the cube falls in the wrong hands, Artemis has no choice but to call his reluctant fairy allies for help.
And when I say reluctant, I mean reluctant.
This book starts out with an explosion of action and doesn’t let up. We get a high-tech adventure and Artemis gets a hard flick on the nose as he discovers that he just may not be the smartest criminal mastermind in the playground. This book up the tension–and the stakes.
It culminates with a not-exactly-cliffhanger that had me chirping (read: squawking!) for the next book.
The Opal Deception (Artemis Fowl #4)
Opal Koboi spent the last year in a coma. But unlike most people in comas, this evil pixie has put her downtime to use, plotting her revenge on everyone who foiled her attempt to destroy the LEPrecon fairy police.
Holly Short and Artemis Fowl are at the top of the hit list.
This fourth addition finally dives into something the last three dance around: instead of being completely fun and funny, The Opal Deception has moments of heartbreak. It’s an emotional installment, which only makes the lighthearted comedy that is, of course, still present in the book all the more delightful.
The best part of this narrative is seeing what the loss of his memories of the fairy world has done to Artemis’ personality and how the Holly/Artemis relationship from the previous three books is rebuilt from the ground up.
Keep an eye out for our upcoming article covering books 5-7. Coming soon to a Canary roost near you! And in the meantime, browse below for a slideshow of book 1-4 covers, from the Colfer’s debut in 2001 to the new bright-white 10th anniversary editions.
The Artemis Fowl Cover Evolution, 2001-2011
Are you looking forward to more Artemis Fowl? What’s your favorite cover edition?