Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident
A book review for parents
This sci-fi/fantasy adventure book is the second in the "Artemis Fowl" series by Eoin Colfer and is published by Disney Hyperion Books, an imprint of the Disney Book Group.
Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident is written for kids ages 8 to 12 years. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Artemis Fowl II, a 13-year-old evil genius, learns that his missing father is alive and being held for ransom by the Mafia in Russia. He and his gigantic, highly-trained body guard, Butler, prepare to rescue Artemis I when they're called below ground by the Lower Elements Police (the fairy recon squad) for questioning.
In book one, Artemis disrupted the fairy world by stealing their sacred book, kidnapping a Lower Elements Police (LEP) officer named Holly Short and extorting fairy gold. Now, as goblins smuggle contraband from the human world — a plan too complex for them to generate on their own — the LEP suspect Artemis is the goblins' human point of contact. Holly and her superior, Commander Julius Root, question Artemis and clear him of suspicion. Root says if Artemis will help the fairies catch the real culprit, he (Root) and Holly will help Artemis rescue his father.
Butler halts the human who is helping the goblin squad (known as the B'wa Kell), but the LEP remain unaware that a disgraced member of their squad (Cudgeon) and their main technology supplier (Opal Koboi) have masterminded the B'wa Kell's operation as a cover for their larger plot to gain revenge and power. As Artemis, Butler, Holly and Root battle goblins, arctic conditions and nuclear radiation in Russia, Opal, Cudgeon and the goblins shut down all LEP systems below ground and trap Foaly, a brilliant LEP technician and centaur, in his operations booth to frame him for instigating the revolution.
Though Cudgeon and Opal have disabled all LEP systems and weaponry, Foaly uses the laptop LEP confiscated from Artemis to send the team in Russia word of the revolution. Root, Artemis, Holly and Butler quickly change course, picking up kleptomaniac dwarf Mulch Diggums in Beverly Hills before heading back underground. Besides having superb burrowing abilities, Mulch knows the layout of Koboi Industries and the way the building was constructed. He helps the group infiltrate the Koboi headquarters and neutralize Cudgeon, Opal and the B'wa Kell.
Artemis' group returns to Russia, where they narrowly save Artemis I from his kidnappers. Artemis II returns home after a friendly parting with Holly. He must pretend to know nothing about the events in Russia, while Butler ensures Artemis I is receiving treatment in a Finnish hospital until he's able to return home.
Butler loves Artemis like a brother and has faithfully guarded him since birth. He feels sorry for Artemis, who is the loneliest boy he's ever seen. He doesn't discipline Artemis or help him stay out of harm's way, but he does save the boy on many occasions. Artemis refers to his mother as a moral and beautiful woman. Readers rarely see her, as she's insane and bedridden in book one and on a spa trip to France in this one. Artemis' school psychologist notes that his mother has no control over her son's behavior. Artemis I has spent his life involved in criminal activity, yet Artemis assures the fairies that his father is a noble man who wouldn't harm another creature. Commander Root has a temper but is deeply loyal to Holly and willing to help Artemis find his dad, despite the boy's past behavior toward the fairies.
Other Belief Systems
This magic-filled story provides details about the lives of fairies and other mystical creatures. Fairies are governed by a book they call their Bible, which includes their history as well as their spells and rituals. The fairies' power-restoring ritual is found in the text of this story. Fairies have the power to heal, mesmerize humans with hypnotic suggestion, and speak in tongues, all of which come into play on this adventure. Fairies can also provide good luck: The narrator briefly mentions a human family who protects the fairies and receives miraculous health and wealth in return. Some below-ground dwellers are called warlocks. According to the Fairy Bible, they could once turn lead into gold, and they can put a pentagram around themselves to stop time. Butler asks Artemis if he wants to get to Russia the legal or illegal way. They laugh when Artemis asks, "Which is faster?" and ultimately choose the faster (illegal) method. Artemis sits cross-legged and meditates to come up with rescue strategies. Butler foresees danger with what he would call a gut reaction or sixth sense. Root has a vision, though the narrator suggests it could have been caused by fumes, stress or lack of food. Artemis and Butler trudge through some snow the narrator says may have melted a million years ago and since refrozen.
Root, Holly and others use the fairy swear word D'Arvit (which, the narrator explained in book one, would have to be censored if it were translated). H---, d--n, and oh gods each appear a time or two. When trapped in his booth, Foaly utters two minutes worth of "unprintable obscenity." Angry at Foaly, Cudgeon says, "A curse on that centaur!" The goblins ask Cudgeon if they can kill Root, crack open his skull and fry his brains. Despite the frequent battle scenes, graphic descriptions of bloodshed and carnage are nearly nonexistent.
Foaly is mildly concerned about his singed rump because bald spots are the first things centaurs look for and avoid in a perspective mate at nightclubs.
Shortlisted for Bistro Book Award, 2002-2003
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- How does Artemis treat the school psychologist at the beginning of the book?
Why can't Artemis think of anyone he respects enough to consider that person an equal?
How do Artemis' responses and behaviors change as a result of his adventure?
What causes him to develop respect for people such as Holly, Butler and his father?
How does he treat the psychologist at the end of the book?
Why is it important to treat people, particularly parents, teachers and other adults in authority, with respect, even if you think you know more than them or don't agree with them?
- What does loyalty mean?
Which characters most exemplified loyalty?
How did they act, or what did they do?
Who in your life would you consider loyal? Why?
To what or whom are you loyal?
- Why does Butler think Artemis is the loneliest boy he's ever seen?
Is Artemis lonely? If so, why?
Do you think his being a genius contributes to his loneliness? Why or why not?
How could a person like Artemis overcome loneliness?
Do you ever feel lonely or misunderstood?
If so, what are some steps you can take to improve that situation?
How could I help you?
- How does Artemis feel about his father?
How does he describe Artemis I, in his inner dialogue and when he's talking to others?
In what ways is Mr. Fowl a good role model?
In what ways does he set a less than admirable example for his son?
How does Artemis feel about his mother?
In what ways is Mrs. Fowl a good role model?
In what ways does she set a less than admirable example for her son?
Why does Artemis say he is feeling more humane impulses since she regained her sanity?
- How does Artemis initially feel about fairies?
How does his opinion of them change, and why?
Describe a time when you developed a certain impression about someone, only to find you were wrong after getting to know him/her better?
Why is it important to get to know people before you make up your mind about them?
Smoking: Commander Root frequently smokes fungus cigars.
Lying/Deception: Artemis tells many lies to keep his plots secret, including composing an e-mail to the school psychologist in his mother's name and making up excuses concerning his whereabouts. Artemis has Butler ensure that his accounts are well hidden so that his father won't see what he's been up to while Artemis I was away. Butler lies to the B'wa Kell's human contact, telling the man he's a doctor.
Alcohol: One Russian Mafia member is seen opening a bottle of wine, while another dreams of a life of champagne and expensive cars.
Bathroom humor: Carried over from book one is the running gag about powerful, debilitating dwarf flatulence. In several instances, Mulch's gas provides the force or distraction needed for the group to continue on its quest.
Environmental stewardship: The fairies make several mentions of the way humans have polluted waters and allowed nuclear radiation to destroy the environment.
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.