Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Artemis Fowl – The Eternity Code: Eoin Colfer, December 23—29, 2015
My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊
The latest instalment of the Artemis Fowl series didn’t live up to the standard of its forerunners.
Artemis has some fairy technology nicked by super-bad businessman Jon Spiro and has to enlist the help of the LEP to get it back.
Though there is a little trickery and posturing, all of the regulars are broadly on the same side. It’s a very different affair from the original, which was rammed with double-crossing and power shifts.
Instead, this is far too sentimental. From the outset, it is thick with touchy-feely commentary and dialogue concerning the Artemis/Butler friendship, then the Holly/Artemis dynamic. It’s saccharine sweet. It might be that Colfer is trying to move Fowl on, but it’s so abrupt and unnecessary that it feels overdone.
Compounding this are the flashback sequences which deal with Fowl reuniting with his father following his rescue in The Arctic Incident. Once again, it’s all very serious and goodie-goodie and each of the scenes pretty much repeats the ideas of the scenes before. The book would have been better without them; the events are addressed in present-time dialogue anyway.
The introduction of Spiro adds yet another superlative layer to the story. He is the baddest ever businessman, fighting the smartest ever teenager, who is protected by the best ever bodyguard, aided by the most talented dwarf thief. It’s all too much. That every character is the best of their kind reduces the extremity of each one, because it isn’t unique. Yes, it’s about fairy spies, but this over-egging the pudding makes it harder to believe than suspending disbelief over the setting.
Eternity Code also misses Commander Root, who falls from being a supporting character to a mere cameo in a couple of scenes. His huffing and puffing might have taken away from the sentimentality and posturing if he had been allowed more page time.
The exception to this is Mulch Diggums, who becomes the standout character. He is still self-absorbed and crafty, and has the same snappy dialogue as always. His scenes are hilarious and he, more than most, retains the charm that endeared us to him in the first place.
The other key character is Juliet Butler, who has an expanded role in this volume, having sat Arctic out. Her inner conflict between the seriousness of personal protection, and her fun-loving excitable nature makes her interesting. In other words, she isn’t the best in her field. She’s just a normal – if gifted – character that we can actually relate to on some level.
Though Artemis’s development continues, from his implied better nature in Arctic to more actively considering his moral compass, it’s perfunctory. While character development is good, it’s laboured when the outcome is predictable, and there is a risk he could lose his edge if he just joins the swarm of good guys. He began as an anti-hero, bordering on antagonist. What is his place in the eponymous series if he ceases to be so?
It’s a fast-paced adventure, perhaps the most fast-paced so far. There’s some genuinely funny moments, and a few twists you won’t see coming. But Eternity Code lacks the sharpness and indulgent badness that the first story did, and the series runs the risk of softening its edges so much that it no longer has one.