It’s taken me almost 10 years and something like 20 attempts to read Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, but I finally managed it this week. It hasn’t taken so long and so many tries because it’s a tricky book to read—more because I until this week didn’t own a copy and was attempting to read it in surreptitious snatches.
Those reading snatches took place when I worked casually as a bookseller (I was reminded of my Artemis Fowl reading attempts while writing my previous blog about a certain dodgy customer who used to frequent said bookshop, but that’s an M-rated blog, while this one’s G).
Working more than five consecutive hours meant I was entitled to a 15-minute break, and said breaks took place in the back room, which also housed bulk stock, vacuum cleaners, and all other manner of retail menagerie. Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, with its shiny, glittery, come-read-me cover was stacked just near the step I perched on to munch my muesli bar.
Any avid reader will tell you that there’s no such thing as too much reading, and that nothing is as frustrating as being forced to tear yourself away from a good book. Especially when it entails going back to working in retail, which in turn involves contending with the likes of shoplifting customers like Mr Itchy or erotic-fiction-exchanging ‘customers’ like He Who Freaked Us Out Too Much To Be Named.
And a good book Artemis Fowl is. It grabbed me from the outset and in every subsequent passage I read (or even re-read, as I didn’t own the copy I was reading and subsequently couldn’t dog-ear the page to mark my place). In fact, even though I hadn’t read it in its entirety, I used to proffer Artemis Fowl to furrow-browed parents who implored me to help them find a book to get their sons reading.
I mean, what boy (or girl) could resist a book about a 12-year-old genius criminal mastermind intent on taking over the world? Especially given that Fowl is constantly battling against fairies and goblins and trolls who have all manner of technological and magical wizardry at hand? What adult, male or female, for that matter, could resist such a book?
The latter is a question I’ve been asking myself as I devoured this book this week. It’s pitched at kids, but the adult me was astounded at Colfer’s ideas and execution. The sheer, mind-boggling cleverness of his ideas, the firmness with which he captures and holds your attention, the pace at which he propels you through the story, and the wit with which he does it are, well, things I wish I were capable of.
Colfer’s protagonist might be a genius mastermind, but I think the author is too. It’s not going to take me another 10 years and 20 attempts to read the rest in the series—I’m off to buy them and the unrelated, but adult book he’s just released now.