Good times. Mostly.
Then Thursday, three days before I was supposed to fly home, hubby called to tell me our cat escaped out the cat door after surgery to repair an abcess from a fight. Furball had a cone over his head, and he was so freaked out he disappeared for two days. I paid extra to change my flight to come home a day early to help search. Although Furball showed up that morning, I was relieved to return to comfort him and get him back to health. Oh yeah, and to look for a place to live, and to sell a bunch of stuff, pack the rest, and move. All before 28 October when we close the sale on our house.
I just got back from the vet. They removed Furball’s drainage tubes, one from the bright red spot you can see at the top and another you can’t see at the bottom. The vet told me he’s regained a few ounces. And she thinks his respiratory infection and bloody stool are both from stress. Yeah, gross. But they’ll get better once the stress goes away. Like shingles do. Just in case, I’m refilling my antiviral medicine. Anyway, please forgive me for the late post.
Now here’s a book review I promised but didn’t have the heart to give last year. I told myself I had to do it. Still I didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news. Finally, I kicked myself into motion and reread the last third. Sad to say, my feelings remain the same, but here we go.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This review is long overdue, a measure of my disappointment with this installment featuring a mentally ill Artemis. No matter how Colfer tried to make Artemis’s condition funny, I couldn’t laugh like I did with the other books. Instead of a villain I loved to hate, we had a villain who hated for love. Although I didn’t like seeing Leonor held thrall, I couldn’t hate Turnball Root for loving her even after she aged. Far more than the usual number of innocent deaths resulted. But I promised an honest review, so I had to do this once it couldn’t hurt series sales. I guess I was too attached to the middle grade feel that disappeared.
Artemis took a larger leap than I expected in morality and concern for the environment, and that spurred his development of Atlantis Complex, both OCD and MPD combined into one fairy disease transmitted through his dabbling in magic. Without giving away too much, I can say it started with the field test of Artemis’s invention meant to clean the environment. An incident similar to Julius Root’s death seemed like déjà vu, but from there, the book went in a much different direction that previous books. Artemis was unable to perform in his usual genius manner and too many situations seemed contrived. I couldn’t picture Juliet being so fake, and other characters became antagonistic and took lines that should have been Artemis’s.
As always, the author got into everyone’s heads, and not all of them were worth the headache it gave me trying to figure out whose head I’d landed in. I prefer one point of view per section for sanity’s sake. But that’s not any different than the other books. It just felt different because Artemis’s head became two. And although I enjoyed Orion’s unrestrained romanticism, he couldn’t fill Artemis’s suit. And the whole major themes of disease, losing control, having free will taken, and death just didn’t do it for me in a middle grade book.
I’ve been trying to put my finger on what most disappointed me. It wasn’t a lack of action or full-on evil villain or fewer twists than usual. It was the character development. The series has been about a long, slow, character improvement for both Artemis and Holly. While he became less of a criminal, she lost her racial prejudice against humans. So for this book to show his complete reform at the beginning by proving humanity is everything Holly hated, as if global warming has nothing to do with factors beyond our control, snatches away the basis of Holly’s character arc. And then Artemis has his moral redemption and genius snatched away by disease.
It wasn’t criminality that ended Artemis’s childhood, it was his descent into madness. Spoiler alert–he never gets it back. The book just ends. To sum it up, you have to become insensitive to suffering to laugh and love this book. I wouldn’t recommend this one to a middle grader. How badly did this story affect me? So much that I didn’t read the last book and then forgot I hadn’t read it. I thought I’d just forgotten the plot.
Did you ever read a series book installment that made you feel like an old friend had died? I wrote the above review and that question before I was asked to do my classmates’ memorial. Coincidence, right? But still, freaky!