Books

Book Review: Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel

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Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Intro

In my book reviews, I consider the literary merit of the book by examining aspects such as character development, world-building, illustrations, and storytelling.

Just as a precaution before you delve in – my opinion and preferences have an impact on the rating. When it comes to judging literature, it is impossible not to let personal biases interfere.

I will, however, honestly evaluate the aspects of the book to the best of my ability so my review can help you determine if it sounds like it’s the book for you.

If you happen to disagree with my evaluation for any reason, feel free to describe your point of view in the comments.

Background

Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel is based on the novel Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. Andrew Donkin created the illustrations for the graphic novel. It was published in 2007, six years after Colfer published the first Artemis Fowl novel.

The titular character, Artemis Fowl, is a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind. Artemis Fowl wants to expand his family fortune by getting his hands on fairy gold.

To do so, he seeks out and finds a book of fairy secrets that he uses to exploit the People (a name for fairykind). He kidnaps a fairy officer named Holly Short to use as leverage.

Along with his bodyguard Butler and Butler’s sister Juliet, Artemis attempts to pull off the amazing feat of separating fairies from their gold, which few have managed to achieve before.

Pros

  • Mostly faithful to book despite being shorter
  • Strong storytelling
  • Color themes matched mood and tension

Cons

  • Ugly artwork
  • Unnecessary changes to character appearance
  • Inconsistency in fairy culture

Review

Any fan of the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer will notice upon reading this graphic novel that it is faithful to its source. There are even sentences that are word-for-word copies of sentences in the original novel.

The storyline likewise remains unaltered. There are no nasty surprise changes in plot like in some novel adaptations. That’s a relief.

As a result, even in this truncated version of the original, the storytelling is vibrant and engaging. I was hooked from the first page and read the whole graphic novel within an hour.

To provide a sense of mood, Donkin created color themes for different scene that reflected the atmosphere. This was unrealistic, but I recognized that it was an artistic choice that added rather than subtracted from the narrative.

Some of Donkin’s other artistic choices were poor ones. The artwork was ugly. It just was. I get that he has artistic license with how he can portray the characters and scenes, but this was too much.

For example, look at Foaly.

Foaly | Artemis Fowl | Fandom
Foaly from Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel

He’s blue and looks elderly. He’s not wearing his customary tin hat. Nothing is right about this picture except that he is still a centaur.

If you read the original novel, is this how you pictured Foaly? It’s not how I did. He came off to me as young and geeky, and somewhat comical. Not geriatric.

Butler is even worse. He looks like a disproportional mountain of flesh. In the original series, he was described as a “man mountain,” so I understand where Donkin was coming from. But he looks horrible, and I imagined him as a large muscular man with some style, not just sheer immensity.

Artemis Fowl | Epic Heroism for the 21st Century: a Multimedia Web ...
Butler and Artemis from Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel)

Also, can I just say that Artemis’s eyes are supposed to be blue? Not brown. Blue.

10 Best Artimus Fowl images | Fowl, Artemis fowl, Artemis
Holly Short from Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel

Also, Holly is supposed to have “nut-brown” skin. Instead her skin is this sallow shade of white. Why? That was an entirely unnecessary change. There was not a single person of color in this novel, to its detriment. There was no need to whitewash the novel.

Also, I will explain why I think the fairy culture in the graphic novel is inconsistent. In Haven City, the billboards were all written in English rather than Gnommish even though fairies look down on humans. The fairies would never have adopted English for their advertisements and daily life. It’s a silly little mistake, but worth noting.

Conclusion

Based mostly on the story and on some (very few) good artistic choices, I rated this graphic novel a 7 out of 10. Artistic choices including character appearance were its biggest downfall, but I was able to stomach that because of the rich storytelling.

Books

Book Review: Artemis Fowl

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Rank: 9.8 out of 10 stars

Intro

In my book reviews, I consider the literary merit of the book by examining aspects such as character development, world-building, illustrations, and storytelling.

Just as a precaution before you delve in – my opinion and preferences have an impact on the rating. When it comes to judging literature, it is impossible not to let personal biases interfere.

I will, however, honestly evaluate the aspects of the book to the best of my ability so my review can help you determine if it sounds like it’s the book for you.

If you happen to disagree with my evaluation for any reason, feel free to describe your point of view in the comments.

Background

Artemis Fowl was written by Eoin Colfer and published in 2001. It has been translated into 40 languages and was named a Puffin Modern Classic.

The titular character, Artemis Fowl, is a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind. Artemis Fowl wants to expand his family fortune by getting his hands on fairy gold.

To do so, he seeks out and finds a book of fairy secrets that he uses to exploit the People (a name for fairykind). He kidnaps a fairy officer named Holly Short to use as leverage.

Along with his bodyguard Butler and Butler’s sister Juliet, Artemis attempts to pull off the amazing feat of separating fairies from their gold, which few have managed to achieve before.

Pros

  • Fantastic storytelling
  • Complex worldbuilding
  • Well-developed and intriguing characters

Cons

  • The translation from Gnommish to perfectly rhymed English is unrealistic.

Review

Storytelling

Eoin Colfer knows how to tell a story. This story is told in third person omniscient, but focuses primarily on the characters Artemis and Holly. Keeping it omniscient is an effective choice because it reveals the way the characters think. If first person point of view had been used, so much of the narrative voice would have been lost.

Colfer’s book has a strong connection to setting. Whether it is a wedding party in Italy, a meeting with a contact in Ho Chi Minh City, or Fowl Manor in Ireland, Colfer makes sure the story is not existing in blank space.

He does his research. He lives in Ireland and uses Ireland as the main setting for his story, but does not let that stop him from using places he is less familiar with and doing it well.

For example, he is specific.

“They [Artemis and Butler] were sitting outside a curbside cafe on Dong Khai Street, watching the local teenagers circle the square on mopeds.”

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

The language he uses also contributes to his storytelling. Rather than saying that Artemis’s bodyguard Butler is armed and dangerous, Colfer cleverly uses a detailed list.

“…a Sig Sauer in his shoulder holster. two shrike-throwing knives in his boots, a derringer two-shot up his sleeve, garrotte wire in his watch, and three stun grenades in various pockets.”

Artemis Fowl to Nguyen in the book Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

This list not only makes Butler seem even more dangerous, it also paints a precise picture. Even not knowing what the items look like does not take away from the sense that Butler is a skilled bodyguard with an in-depth knowledge of weaponry.

I had to look up most of these items to know what they looked like, but I don’t think that is a problem because Colfer’s imaginative storytelling compelled me to do so.

Garrotte wire, for example, is used for strangulation.

There are so many advanced vocabulary words in this book that Vocabulary.com has a list of difficult words just for Artemis Fowl. I believe that this does not take away from the storytelling, because Colfer uses precise words that convey a specific meaning.

World-building

The world-building is phenomenal. Colfer bases it partially on Irish fairy tales, but with a sci-fi twist.

LEPrecon basically refers to police officers and their commanders in the fairy world. Get it? Leprechaun? The LEP stands for Lower Elements police.

Like in Irish mythology, “fairy” is a catch-all term that includes elves, pixies, dwarfs, trolls, etc.

Fairies live underground and use magma flows and pods to reach the surface. There is technology such as iris-cams and finger darts.

The finger darts are hilarious. They meld to slip on, look exactly like your finger, and do not feel unusual. This has led to the incapacitation of some officers who forgot they were wearing them and picked their nose, setting off the dart.

Character Development

Colfer’s strong point is definitely his characters.

Artemis Fowl is not your ordinary twelve-year-old. He’s a criminal mastermind. One who looks as pale as a vampire in sunlight because of long periods of time spent in front of a computer, hiding away indoors.

Artemis exhibits both the qualities of a child and an adult. According to Colfer,

“He still retained a childlike belief in magic, tempered by an adult determination to exploit it.”

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

When he does something out of character, his own thoughts let readers know that it is unusual. For instance, he makes a joke twice (not very funny ones because he is unpracticed) and it is more amusing in that he had the inclination toward a sense of humor for once. He even notes this himself.

Butler is loyal to Artemis, but occasionally is disapproving of Artemis’s more dangerous plans, especially when he puts Butler’s sister Juliet in danger.

Colfer doesn’t just tell us Butler is dangerous, he shows it. The “man mountain” carries an assortment of weapons and demonstrates his martial prowess against shielded fairies. Even he can be caught off guard – but those times are comparatively few.

Holly Short is stubborn and resentful. She is a rule-breaker with both a temper and a compassionate side.

Her superior Commander Root is a short-tempered fairy who cares for his officers and despite being blatantly rude and domineering toward them.

Foaly is a centaur who is witty and intelligent. He is indispensible to the LEPrecon team because he rigged up a lot of their technology and is basically the resident genius on the team, so no matter how many snarky remarks he makes, Commander Root can’t afford to fire him.

There are an assortment of other characters who are well-developed and intriguing, but I won’t go into more detail here. Read the book for yourself

A side note

By the way, this is completely out of context, but my favorite line in the entire book is this:

“I don’t like lollipops.”

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

It just made me crack up. To see why, read the book.

Translation Issues

My only complaint in this book is that when Artemis translates the Book that is written in Gnommish, it becomes perfectly rhymed English.

Anyone who has ever tried to translate anything from one language to another knows that something is lost in translation, and this is especially true of poetry.

Words that rhyme in one language rarely do in another. And why would a language whose closest kin is Egyptian show such remarkable resemblance to English by being translated into perfectly rhymed poetry?

Another thing is he had Gnommish written on the bottom of the pages that could be translated letter by letter with English. That was completely different from the way it was described in writing, where it was like an almost unbreakable code.

Conclusion

I would recommend this book both for a young adult audience and for adults.

If you like Fantasy or Sci-fi, or have a penchant for fairy tales, or just want to be immersed in a good story, I fully recommend this book.

Links

Movies

Movie Analysis: Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl (film) - Wikipedia

Movie: Artemis Fowl (2020)

WARNING! SPOILER ALERT!

This review contains spoilers for the Artemis Fowl movie and the book series.

This is my first movie analysis, and let me start out by saying the movie sucked…but had a couple of positive qualities. And by a couple I literally mean two, and that’s it.

First of all, decent special effects. Haven City looked appropriately fairyish and high-tech. It all had this blue tinge to it that made it look otherworldly. And the device that sentenced Mulch Diggums to prison was creative.

Artemis Fowl's World Explained: Fairies, The Aculos & More
Holly Short in Haven City from Artemis Fowl

The troll looked much more human than in the Artemis Fowl graphic novel, but whatever, it looked fine.

Troll (Artemis Fowl) | Villains Wiki | Fandom
Troll from Artemis Fowl

Also, the therapy session scene near the beginning of the movie was pretty good. In it, Artemis Fowl acted like his usual pain-in-the-neck, prideful self like he was in the book series. The scene was pulled straight out of book 2 (The Arctic Incident). Artemis insulted the therapists chair with poise and intelligence.

Okay, there you go. That was all that was decent about the movie, in a few sad little paragraphs.

Anyway…

As a fan of the Artemis Fowl series, I was mortified by how Disney mutilated what had been an enchanting story into an awkward compilation of multiple books’ plots with some entirely new random stuff thrown in.

They also managed to mangle the beloved characters of the books series and make them…a bunch of goodie-goodies! The horror!

The movie starts out with the media converging on the Artemis Fowl case, revealing that Artemis Fowl Sr. is suspected of stealing relics. This sounds promising. (Now if he really was a criminal in the movie, that would be accurate.)

Mulch is telling this story under interrogation, so he butts in with his dull narration. Who’s Mulch? Well, the movie doesn’t tell you that yet, so stay tuned. The only thing we know about him is that he looks oddly like Hagrid from the Harry Potter movie.

Why Mulch Diggums from Artemis Fowl looks so familiar
Mulch from Artemis Fowl

We get to know Artemis Fowl Jr., who loved Ireland.

Ireland,field,pasture,landscape,scene - free image from needpix.com

Yeah…I don’t think the Artemis Fowl in the book loved anything…or at least would never admit to it.

Of course, the movie has to prove he loves Ireland. Cue surfing scene and outdoorsy activities.

That was the moment I knew they were going to ruin the movie. Artemis was a pallid, inactive boy in the book series. The first book literally said, “Sun did not suit Artemis. He did not look well in it. Long hours indoors in front of a computer screen had bleached the glow from his skin. He was white as a vampire and almost as testy in the light of the day.”

Artemis is no outdoorsman. If this was the Artemis from the book, he would probably fall off the surfboard and drown. What am I saying? He would never get on a surfboard in the first place.

Artemis Fowl from Artemis Fowl

We get to know this new-and-not-improved Artemis Fowl better in the therapy session scene, which seems to exist mostly because it gives the viewers background information such as the fact that Mrs. Fowl is dead (instead of mentally unstable and hiding away in her room like in the book). Also, that his father is frequently away on business trips.

But it is the one good scene in the movie, so it gets an excuse for its obvious purpose of exposition.

Now for a series of affectionate father-son bonding moments. Based on the book series, it’s hard to imagine Artemis Fowl showing actual affection. In the graphic novel, he hugs his mother once and it’s touching (but kind of out of character). But in the original series, Artemis showed very little affection toward anyone. Ever.

Artemis Fowl Sr. from Artemis Fowl

After the father-son scenes, Artemis Fowl Sr. leaves on a trip and is kidnapped by Opal Koboi. Good old Opal, who made her first appearance in the second book.

She should look like this:

Opal Koboi from the graphic novel series

In the movie, she looks like this:

Who's the Artemis Fowl villain? Without a post-credits scene, we ...

Don’t ask me why Disney made her look like a Sith Lord. I guess to make her creepier than a pink-haired pixie, but it backfired.

I guess they thought giving her a grating voice would help with the scare factor too, but no…it was hard to take Miss Sith seriously.

Apparently Opal Koboi is after the Aculos, which is a fancy-looking upside-down acorn…I mean, fairy artifact…with mysterious and dangerous powers.

Wait, what? What’s the Aculos? That wasn’t in the book series. Where did that come from? And why is it at the center of this movie?

Artemis Fowl: The Aculos, the Disney Movie's New Plot Device ...
The Aculos from Artemis Fowl

Anywho, Opal threatens Artemis Fowl Sr.’s life if Artemis Fowl Jr. doesn’t get the bedazzled acorn (fairy artifact, sorry) for her.

Butler takes Artemis down to the basement, where Artemis Fowl Sr. has kept his years of research on fairies. Only…in the books Artemis Fowl Sr. was not the one who researched fairies, it was Artemis Fowl Jr.

But, okay, sure. I mean, this movie already made him the good guy, even though as soon as he goes missing he is accused of stealing artifacts. Artemis Fowl Jr. is indignant. His father, a criminal? Of course not. So he has some interest in clearing his father’s name.

And Butler is not the man he was in the books. He goes by Dom in the movie, and man, if you dare to call him something else, he will snap you in half.

Seriously? Dom? In the books, you called him Butler if you valued your life. Even Artemis called him Butler. Artemis didn’t even learn Butler’s first name until Butler thought he was going to die and revealed it later in the series.

Butler from Artemis Fowl

Butler has a little sister named Juliet in the books who is a niece instead in the movie. Juliet was a teenager in the books, but is another 12-year-old in the movie.

Juliet from Artemis Fowl

In the meantime, Holly Short is in Haven City. We get to see the other main character, finally. They didn’t mess her up at all.

Just kidding. They ruined her.

First off, she looks like a twelve-year old of average height. In the book, she was a 3-foot tall woman. Second, in the book she specifically had nut-brown skin. Why did they choose a white actor to fill this role? I guess they tried to make up for it by making a couple of secondary characters black, but why not just have a main character with brown skin? Also, the secondary characters they made black were in the role of servants.

Holly Short | Disney Wiki | Fandom
Holly from Artemis Fowl

Also, in the books, she’s a snarky, rebellious woman. In the movie, she is a kind of rebellious, sweet and dumb little girl.

Mulch picks her pocket, making his first appearance as a giant dwarf. In the books, he was just a normal dwarf. Kind of reminds me of how Hagrid is half-giant.

Moving on…

We meet Commander Root and…what the heck…he’s female! Why? Did they just feel like they didn’t have enough female characters? Cause Commander Root was definitely a dude in the book…one that came off as sexist at first, until it was revealed that he really was hard on Holly because he wanted her as the first female LEPrecon officer to be better than his other officers. That way she could prove females could work in a job like that.

Commander Root from Artemis Fowl

Anyway, I guess they really didn’t want him to come off as sexist toward women, so they made him female. And made the team of LEPrecon officers consist of several more female characters for good measure.

Now, if they wanted this film to represent women more, they should have had better female characters. Not boring and painfully unfunny Commander Root, childish and consistently helpless Holly Short, and the combatant who never shows her skills, Juliet.

It turns out the fairies do not have the Aculos either, because of the treachery of Beechwood Short, Holly’s father. Holly maintains that he is innocent. Don’t worry, Beechwood is a good guy too.

We meet Foaly shortly after Root, when they receive news of a troll that has escaped to the surface world. Now, in the books Foaly is a centaur with an affinity for tin hats. He is snarky, witty, and hilarious.

So of course in the movie he has absolutely no funny lines, and barely appears.

The only funny thing about him is the way he gallops around the room, looking like a prancing pony. That was the part of the movie that made me laugh.

So anyway, Holly is sent to the surface to deal with the troll in Italy. The troll attacks a party. Unlike in the book, no human gave Holly an invitation to enter the party that the troll attacked. This makes the rules of the movie inconsistent because fairies require human permission to intervene in situations like this.

The troll is defeated and Holly Short goes off to Tara because there is a clue to how she can clear her father’s name there. This is unlike the book because in the book she goes there to replenish her magic by completing the Ritual.

Artemis and Butler manage to kidnap her. The fairies find out and are dismayed. They retaliate by stopping time around Fowl Manor.

Artemis and the fairies attempt negotiations, which end in Artemis refusing to allow the fairies inside while he lives. The fairies decide to send in Mulch because they say he is a dwarf, not a fairy.

This is where the creators of this movie made a critical mistake. In Irish mythology, and in the Artemis Fowl series, dwarves are fairies.

The real reason Mulch was able to go inside the Manor in the book was because fairies technically can enter dwellings without permission – at the cost of their magic. Mulch lost his magic in the past breaking and entering into human dwellings, so he had nothing to lose by entering Fowl Manor without permission.

Mulch finds the Aculos located in a safe in Fowl Manor.

Artemis has a heart-to-heart conversation with Holly, where they bond over both having falsely accused/slandered fathers. Holly asks if they are friends, and Artemis says, “Forever friends.”

I almost died of laughter and indignation when he said that. It was like something straight out of My Little Pony. The Artemis in the books wouldn’t be caught dead saying something that sappy.

The Hub Renews 'My Little Pony' for Season 5 | Animation World Network
From My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

Under new management, the fairies send in a troll and turn off all magic in the house. The heroes of the story engage in a pathetic battle that consists mostly of the troll smashing things and Holly shrieking at people to untangle her wings from a chandelier where she is hanging like a pinned butterfly. Juliet is equally useless. Artemis and friends winning the battle seemed like a big accident.

In the book, Butler managed to take down the troll on his second try with some advanced martial arts. In other words, he was scary competent in the book, but awkward in the movie.

Butler almost dies after the battle, but Holly is able to heal him when Root regains control and turns the magic back on in the house. At this point, Butler cries. Yeah, this is not the Butler fans of the book know and love.

The whole dying scene was completely ruined by the creepy dolls that were all over that room. The whole time Butler was almost dying I was thinking, yikes, those things are freaky, why are they there?

Rather than give the Aculos to Koboi, Artemis asks Holly to bring back Artemis Fowl Sr with the power of the Aculos. She gladly complies (Stockholm Syndrome?), and it works because the movie needs to end soon I guess. Kind of anti-climactic, but whatever.

Artemis Fowl Sr. gives Holly a list of traitors to the fairies, which Commander Root orders her to investigate. She’s happy with that, and even gets some applause from the rest of the LEPrecon officers. For what exactly? Getting kidnapped and assisting the kidnappers?

Artemis Fowl calls himself a criminal mastermind at the end of the movie. That doesn’t make sense for multiple reasons. First, they already established him as the good guy. Second, he was horrified when his father was accused of crimes and wanted his name cleared.

So why would he be proud of being a criminal at the end? Also, he did very little that was criminal compared to in the books. In the first book, he kidnapped Holly just so he could get his hands on fairy gold. In the movie, he only kidnapped her to save his father.

Overall, this is a movie that fans of the original series will hate, and it is unlikely to win over any new fans.

It is not good as a standalone movie. For people to understand it, they have to have read the book. Yet it deviates so far from the book that those who have read the books will not enjoy it. At the same time, the movie’s so confusing that people who have not read the book will be turned off by it.

Movies

Movie Review: Artemis Fowl (Spoiler-Free)

Artemis Fowl (film) - Wikipedia

Movie: Artemis Fowl (2020)

Rating: 2 out of 10 stars

Intro

This is the first movie review on my blog, and I wish that the movie would have been better. In fact, this is one of the rare occasions that a movie has made me angry by how much it differed from the book.

As a fan of the Artemis Fowl series, I was mortified by how Disney mutilated what had been an enchanting story into an awkward compilation of multiple books’ plots with some entirely new random stuff thrown in.

Below, I have outlined the pros and cons of the movie. I will be as vague as necessary to avoid spoilers.

Pros

  • The movie had decent special effects.
  • The Therapy Session scene was well-executed.

Racking my mind for any other positive aspects of this movie….

I got nothing.

Cons

  • The characters were ruined
    • For example…
      • Artemis Fowl was a good guy in the movie – not a criminal mastermind.
      • Artemis was also an active outdoorsman in the movie, while he was a pallid, inactive boy in the book series. The first book literally said, “Sun did not suit Artemis. He did not look well in it. Long hours indoors in front of a computer screen had bleached the glow from his skin. He was white as a vampire and almost as testy in the light of the day.”
      • Butler and Juliet acted ridiculous in the movie, while they were serious and formidable in the book series (although Juliet has always had her moments of poor decision-making).
      • Mulch was a giant dwarf (an oxymoron, I know). In the book, he was just a normal dwarf.
      • Commander Root was cast as a kinder female character, while in the book Commander Root was male who was in a constant state of irritation, spouting curses continually.
      • Foaly was a prancing centaur with absolutely no interesting lines. In the book, he was the funniest character and was at least respectable.
  • The plot was completely different than the book.
  • An important detail of Irish mythology was messed up in the movie.
    • Hint: Dwarves are a kind of fairy.
  • The directors never should have tried to make a PG Artemis Fowl. Instead, it should have been PG-13 to incorporate more of the important aspects of the book series. The book series was originally intended for young adults.
  • It was an awkward compilation of multiple books.
  • In the books, Holly had nut-brown skin. In the movie, she was white. Instead, they made secondary characters Butler and Juliet black, even though they were Eurasian and white.

Once both the plot and the characters of a story are screwed up, it doesn’t have a chance. I knew that this movie was not going by the books as soon as I saw Artemis on a surfboard, but I had still held out hope that it would be a good movie. Yet it was by straying so far from the beloved characters and amazing storytelling of the Artemis Fowl series that the movie went wrong.

The only part of the movie where it genuinely seemed like Artemis Fowl was acting like he did in the original book series was during the therapy session scene. In that scene, he spoke and acted like the extremely intelligent 12-year-old that he was supposed to be.

It is not good as a standalone movie. For people to understand it, they have to have read the book. Yet it deviates so far from the book that those who have read the books will not enjoy it. At the same time, the movie’s so confusing that people who have not read the book will be turned off by it.

Overall, this is a movie that fans of the original series will hate, and it is unlikely to win over any new fans.

In another of my blog articles, there is a full length movie analysis (with spoilers!!!).