Saturday, August 7, 2010

Review: Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex

Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex
Eoin Colfer

“Artemis has committed his entire fortune to a project he believes will save the planet and its inhabitants, both human and fairy. Can it be true? This goodness taken hold of the world’s greatest teenage criminal mastermind?

Captain Holly Short is unconvinced and discovers that Artemis is suffering from Atlantis Complex, a psychosis common in guilt-ridden fairies, not humans, and most likely triggered in Artemis by his dabbling in fairy magic. Symptoms include obsessive-compulsive behavior, paranoia, multiple personality disorder and, in extreme cases, embarrassing confessions of love to a certain feisty LEPrecon fairy.

Unfortunately, Atlantis Complex has struck at the worst possible time, A deadly foe from Holly’s past is intent on destroying the actual city if Atlantis, Can Artemis escape the confines of his mind- and the grips of a giant squid- in time to save the underwater metropolis and its fairy inhabitants?”

~Description taken from jacket cover

I’ve been reading the Artemis Fowl books since the first one was published a decade ago. Its one of the select few childhood series I’m determined to see through to the end, proving that it isn’t limited to the age 9-12 audience. Given this background, I’ve been waiting anxiously for The Atlantis Complex since I heard it was coming out six months ago. It’s because of this build up of excitement that made me so disappointed in this installment, and makes this review somewhat painful to write.

One of the many reasons I’m completely enamored with Eoin Colfer as a writer is because of his superior sense of pacing and suspense. In previous books, he’s put Artemis and Holly in such desperate situations that, even though you know in the back of your mind they’ll survive, you still can’t put the book down. Half of this is because the passages are so well-written, and the other half is waiting to see how Artemis will figure a way out of the bind. There’s no comparable scenario in The Atlantis Complex. For instance, the book jacket mentions a scene in which a giant squid takes hold of Artemis, promising to be an enthralling bit. In reality, it’s short, poorly executed, and Artemis is rescued by a deus-ex-machina rather than one of his own plans. All I could think was “Colfer’s done this before and he’s done it better.”

However, this plot rehashing is most annoying when he places in a random character death in the first fifty pages and parallels it to Commander Root’s. When Root was killed in The Opal Deception I actually cried, which rarely happens when I read a book. The death in The Atlantis Complex, on the other hand, seemed random and included solely out of convenience or that he didn’t know what to do with the character. I find this so perturbing because Colfer has proven himself to be a better author than to have to rely on such an amateur trick as this.

This isn’t to say that there was nothing redeeming about The Atlantis Complex. Orion, Artemis’ ‘other’ personality, is one of my favorite characters simply because he’s so ridiculous. He incessantly professes his love to Holly, much to Artemis’ chagrin and can’t stop citing romantic poetry. He’s also, in my opinion, the center of one of the best comic moments in the series (it involves the mention of a birthmark, but I won’t say more than that). I’d really like him to show up in the next book, if possible.

There’s a huge amount of unsubtle hints to the next, and reportedly last, book in the series. Mostly, the constant references to Opal Koboi, but also the tense romance between Holly and Artemis. It makes me wish that Colfer had skipped over The Atlantis Complex entirely, and just written one final, excellent book. It would have fit in better with an otherwise stellar series.

Grade: 3/5 Stars

Note: Although this review is harsh, I remain by my opinion that Eoin Colfer is an amazing author. Including The Atlantis Complex I’ve read eleven books by him, and this is the only one I wouldn’t highly recommend.


  1. Ick who'd he kill off? I've still been keeping up with the books. I didn't like the last one too much though. The Lost Colony was the best.

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