We gave it an A-
If Lemony Snicket writes with the flair and imagination of Roald Dahl, Eoin Colfer is channeling Ian Fleming. He introduced the young criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl in the eponymously titled series opener last year. And the sequel, Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, has the same pace and energy of a PG-rated James Bond adventure. ”By the age of thirteen,” Colfer writes, ”our subject, Artemis Fowl, was displaying signs of an intellect greater than any human since Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Artemis had beaten European chess champion Evan Kashoggi…. He had also written a computer program that diverted millions of dollars from Swiss accounts to his own, forged more than a dozen Impressionist paintings…and cheated the Fairy People out of a substantial amount of gold.” Is Artemis good or evil? His mixed impulses are as fascinating as they are fun.
The story opens with the young lad making mincemeat of the private-school psychologist who tries to pick his dastardly brain. ”Which disorder would he have today? Multiple personality perhaps, or maybe he’d be a pathological liar?” The story demands a bit of both conditions, as Artemis tries to rescue his kidnapped father from the mafia in northern Russia. He teams up with his mammoth bodyguard and their old nemesis Holly Short, a Haven City fairy who lives close to the earth’s core. The world that Colfer creates is as vivid and fantastical as any shire, Gotham, or galaxy far, far away in recent memory.