My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I read this book last year and remembered liking the creativity but not the main character or message. I took time to refresh my memory so I could write a better review. Here we have a book meant for young teens in which a twelve-year-old criminal genius decides to extort the fairies and succeeds. Artemis doesn’t fit the mold of protagonist for a middle grade book and doesn’t change enough by the end to make this book a good choice for young teens. He’s a great role model for budding criminals-cold and calculating. However, for teens who read the other books in the series, I wouldn’t worry about the criminal influence because the sequels change that.
With that said, I enjoyed the female fairy character, Holly, with whom I could identify in spite of her anti-human prejudice. That viewpoint seemed natural for a race confined to the underground because of xenophobia, and part of the fun of reading fantasy is getting into the heads of other races. I liked Butler as the bodyguard/servant, and his loyalty and concern.
I also enjoyed most of the humor, not including the dwarf mechanism of tunneling. But that was meant for teens, so it’s not a negative for the genre. What I liked most was the author’s creativity, reinventing leprechauns, for example. Look at the names, and you’ll see how they fit the characters. Foley is a centaur. Get it? The fairy technology was interesting, along with using vents to travel to the surface. The different fairy talents entertained me, and how about the language and pot prophecy?
What I can’t understand is why the author made fairies, supposedly so much better than humans, have a prejudice against female fairy public servants. It didn’t add anything more to the story than a conflict of personalities or misplaced blame for an accident would in keeping Holly from advancing in the police force. Considering the fact that both the latter occurred, fairy prejudice against their own women worked against the author’s message of fairy superiority over the Mud Men–humans.
Then there were writing problems. The author’s persistent human bashing became a big distraction. It wasn’t just over the top, it was an intrusive author opinion. I hope this changes in future books, along with another distracting habit–head-hopping, a huge no-no in good storytelling unless the author serves as a narrator so familiar with the characters as to know their thoughts. Don’t tell me what Foley thinks in a scene written from Holly’s POV and vice-versa, especially after claiming to have written a story from information gathered after the actual events happened, not from acquaintance with characters or even interviews.
I can say I’ll read on because I already did. There were enough good points to outweigh the bad. The effects of prejudice, all the good in the human race, and caring for the environment should be discussed with teens whether they read this book in the classroom or elsewhere. Come back next week to see my review of The Arctic Incident.
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