Tag Archive: fantasy

Artemis Fowl #7: The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer

Ages 12 and up

Artemis Fowl has just turned fifteen and he’s ready to do something that he has never done before: Save the world–willingly. It should be simple shouldn’t it? With the best of both human and fairy technology at his disposal, Artemis has discovered a workable way to slow down global warming. But unfortunately, it seems that any time that Artemis and Captain Holly Short occupy the same space trouble is bound to follow. Artemis and his friends find themselves under attack from an enemy that Holly had forgotten she had. And if that isn’t enough, Artemis seems to be suffering from Atlantis Complex, a rare fairy psychosis that couldn’t have picked a worse time to develop. As Artemis, Holly, and friends try to get to the bottom of both the attack on themselves and the subsequent attack on Atlantis (because, ofcourse, they are related) they must also contend with Artemis’ growing paranoia and a split personality that brings to light things that Holly would rather stay hidden. Will Artemis’ distrust of even his friends keep them from saving the fairy folk yet again, or can Artemis overcome his new nemesis–his mind.

The Artemis Fowl books are books that definitely deserve a permanent home on my bookshelf. And once they’ve settled on one cover design, they will have one. I discovered this series through a friend, who gave the first book to my brother. Now at that time, by baby bro was not the biggest reader. And he loved it. So of course, I had to read it. I’ve been in love with the series ever since.

One of the best things about the Artemis Fowl series is that is so much fun from beginning to end. This newest book isn’t any exception. Right off the bat you have not only a mystery (What is with Artemis’ sudden obsession with the number five?), but the usual banter. There’s really no build-up, no easing into the problems of the plot. The strange state of Artemis’ mind is disturbing in a character you love. And just when as you start to figure out what the heck is going on, BAM! The usual mayhem occurs. And maybe a few deaths. This could be really heavy, gruesome stuff, but Colfer still uses dialogue and description in such a way that even with things are exploding, you’re laughing your socks off. I mean, he has Butler pretend to be a luchador–complete with a crazy costume. The characters in The Atlantis Complex are just as much fun and witty as they have been in the last six books.

It’s nice to get to see Artemis vulnerable to what he has considered his greatest asset in the previous six books. He feels more like a normal teenager with each book (not that he ever will truly be normal) and I think this is the first time he’s ever actually wished he was. It is interesting to see how much everyone has come to rely on having Artemis to help think them out of a situation. Artemis’ crazy is well-written. It’s a smart kind of crazy. He’s not bouncing off the walls and shouting incoherent sentences, he’s simply paranoid and more than a little obsessive-compulsive. Which doesn’t work out so well when you’re leaps and bounds beyond your friends intelligence-wise.

This book feels a little more confined than those that came before. And I guess, since a majority of it is spent in a tiny submersible sub, that is expected. Still, it works. I walked away from this book feeling like I knew the main characters much better than I did before, so I didn’t mind that the cast of characters wasn’t as expansive as it has been in previous books, but I did notice. A lot of it was setting up for the next  book, I felt (which is kind of obvious after the ending). I will warn you that the ending of TAF is what could be considered a mild cliffhanger. And if the rumor that this is the penultimate Arty book is true, then I suppose to be expected.

This book was everything that I could have asked for it to be…even if we had to listen to Orion call Foaly a “noble beast” so many times it was nauseating. The more I got into the book, the more I realized that I had missed Artemis and Holly and Butler and Juliet and Foaly and yes, even Mulch. It was wonderful to be able to interact with the characters that I have grown up with. And I will be eagerly awaiting any news of the next volume in the series.

This is a good example of:

  • Description
  • Dialogue
  • Character building
  • Adventure novel
This book is on my recommended reading list.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

All ages

Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three sisters, which, as anyone in the kingdom of Ingary knows, means that she is destined to fail if she decides to try seeking her fortune. So Sophie, remains at her father’s hat shop helping her stepmother keep the business going. That is, until she manages to offend the Witch of the Waste (though she doesn’t know how). As punishment Witch lays a curse on Sophie, turning her into an old woman. Unwilling to face her family, Sophie sets off. It isn’t long before she comes upon wicked Wizard Howl’s moving castle. Howl has made a reputation for capturing young girls and eating their hearts. But Sophie is an old woman, so she’s safe, right? In the castle, Sophie meets Calcifer, the fire demon that is responsible for most of the castle’s magic and Michael, Howl’s apprentice. Sophie strikes a bargain with Calcifer, he will free her from her curse if she can free him from his bargain with Howl. As she grows to know Howl and the two other occupants of his castle she finds that that everything is not as it seems. Not with Howl. Not with Calcifer. And most certainly, not with herself.

My first experience with Howl’s Moving Castle was actually through a friend who couldn’t believe that I hadn’t seen Miyazaki’s movie. Which is an awesome movie, by the way. I highly recommend it.

The book is ten times awesomer (Yes, I said “awesomer”).

Anyways, when I found out it was a book as well, of course I had to go buy it. And I’ve gotten my money’s worth. This is my third full reread–not counting all the times I’ve picked it up to reread my favorite parts.

There are some books that just seem to transcend age range. This book is slated for ages 9-12. I was eighteen when I first read it and I enjoyed it more than I have enjoyed many books. Howl’s Moving Castle is a book that will be just as much fun for the parents to read as for the kids. It’s written in the same style as Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (another awesome book). Full of wit, magic and mayhem. The humor is clean and timeless. Jones’ wording is chosen for the utmost impact both to the story and the enjoyment of the reader. I’ve started tweeting random sentences when I’m reading, I maybe tweeted a tenth of what I wanted to. Just reading the chapter titles is an experience in and of itself. This book will tickle your funny bone until you don’t think you can possibly laugh anymore.

There are some ways that this was definitely written for a younger audience. The plot is quick, there is no time for your attention to wander. Now don’t by any means think that it has a simple plot. This book has one of the most twisty plots that I have seen in a book for this age range. There is a lot packed into Howl’s 448 pages, so you have to pay attention or you’ll miss something. Also, the book’s short format makes every word important. The descriptions are brief. But they are also colorful and vivid. Jones establishes the world and then thoroughly immerses you in it. You can picture the streets of Kingsbury and the wharves of Porthaven in your head. Dialogue is quick and snappy, with one liners galore and each character’s voice distinct and entertaining.

The characters are constantly revealing new and different layers of themselves. When we first meet Sophie she seems quiet and timid. Used to talking her way out of situations meekly. She seems content to stay at the hat shop and determined to help her two younger sisters (who have much better chances at finding their fortunes). And then she gets cursed into her nineties and we get to see a little of Sophie’s real personality. She’s fiesty and fun and no longer afraid to speak the thoughts that have been entertaining for two chapters–even when it means standing up to a wicked wizard. Howl plays the flamboyant playboy, but (as anyone who reads Batman comics will know) there is much more to him than Sophie has heard in her little town of Market Chipping. These character’s are far from perfect (very far, in Howl’s case), but that’s part of what makes them so lovable. And what makes watching them grow so much fun.

This is one of those books that is just as great to read in bed on a rainy day (the sun will be shining inside, trust me) as it would be to listen in the car on a family trip. It’s wonderfully complicated and surprising. Even in my third read through, I was discovering new levels to both the characters and Jones’ handling of the plot. And I recommend it to anyone who wants to write. I always walk away from this book refreshed and inspired to write more.

This is a good example of:

  • Character development/story arc
  • Plot
  • Descriptions
  • Making every word count
  • Putting fun into your writing
This book is one my recommended reading list.
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