Saturday 25 January 2020

Review: Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex bu Eoin Colfer

'complex' is simply the best artemis yet
(Puffin Books, £12.99)

With more than 20 million books sold worldwide, Wexford man Eoin Colfer is one of the most successful children's writers out there. He is also a man who loves a challenge. This year saw his first musical comedy, The Lords of Love, hit the Wexford Opera House to strong reviews, and last year he added a sixth book to the late Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, And Another Thing, a brave move that has certainly coloured his latest children's book.

But he is best known for his Artemis Fowl series, a dastardly clever blend of myth, science fiction, fairy magic and crime which was unforgettably summarised as 'Die Hard With Fairies'. Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex is the seventh and penultimate book in the series. The criminal child genius has just turned 15 and is preparing to save the world from global warming with the help of his old friend, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon, or Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance Unit and other crack fairy minds.

However, Artemis is not himself, and Holly quickly diagnoses a devastating mental illness called 'Atlantis Complex'. Artemis is plagued by delusional paranoia, an obsessive dread of the number four, and multiple personality disorder, culminating in the appearance of Orion, Artemis's 'nice' alter ego, a boy who speaks with the rhetoric of a romantic poet. When vicious amorphobots start attacking the subterranean fairy city of Atlantis, guided by a psychotic criminal, can Holly and her fairy friends bring back the old, hyper-intelligent Artemis in time to save it?

Meanwhile Butler, Artemis's heroic body guard, is trapped in a Mexican pro-wrestling ring with his sister, Juliet (aka wrestling goddess, the Jade Princess), surrounded by zombie wrestling fans who are trying to kill them.

This is a brilliantly rendered scene, with all the drama and lycra of a real wrestling bout, combined with fairy 'mesmer' magic and thrilling fight scenes, as the intrepid brother-sister team takes on thousands of deranged fans.

This book shows a development in Colfer's writing -- his inventive and colourful metaphors come thick and fast and he is unafraid of stretching his young readers. Snow ridges are curved like "a whale's spine", words push through lips like "scarab beetles from the mouth of a mummy", and references to Shakespeare, Middle Earth and, yes, even Star Trek abound. Some of the jokes and puns owe much to Colfer's year 'as' Douglas Adams, and this adds an extra component to his already intoxicatingly inventive writing style.

The Atlantis Complex is quite simply the best Artemis yet. With a complex, layered and hugely satisfying plot, it pulls the reader along with its sheer energy and joie de vivre. This is a book for all ages, not to be missed.

Sarah Webb's latest book for young readers is Amy Green, Teen Agony Queen: Summer Secrets

Buy 'Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex' from Eason

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