So for the past few weeks I’ve been trying something new: livetweeting as I read a book on Twitter every Saturday at noon CST. It usually lasts one to two hours, and I’ve been immensely enjoying this– I force myself to have time to read, and I get to read books I’ve been meaning to for ages.
If you’re interested in following as I livetweet, my Twitter handle is @AlexPenname, and I have a little widget that posts my last few Tweets on the sidebar of my blog. You can also follow the tag #livetweetbooks and the name of whatever I’m reading that week. As of the writing of this review, I’m reading through Dune– and that’s bound to take a few weeks.
Anyway, my first chosen book was Artemis Fowl. Loved it.
This was actually cheating a little, technically: I read it back in elementary or middle school. However, my memory contained about two lines from the novel and absolutely no context, so I allowed it.
As you’ve probably gleaned from this blog, I’m a huge advocate for both reading and kids, so young adult fiction always appeals to me. Especially interesting young adult fiction. As the linked article above mentions, kids can have a hard time finding books they actually like, so I’m a firm believer that a YA book should be able to hold anyone’s attention regardless of age. See: Harry Potter.
How was it?
One word: Excellent.
— Alex Penland (@AlexPenname) April 4, 2015
What did you like? It was clever. It was simultaneously clearly targeted toward a younger audience (clear, simple language, the occasional blunt humor) and yet did not talk down to anyone. I was even scandalized a couple times…
…Okay, more than a couple times.
But at that age, it clearly didn’t scar me. For some reason, ten years later, I feel the need to protect my thirteen-year-old self from things she clearly either didn’t care about or actively enjoyed. So take from that what you will.
The characterization was incredible. I love that the Fowls are these wealthy criminal masterminds who grow all their own food and eat organic, I love that the paranoid centaur is the most genre-saavy person in the books, I love that Artemis can be genuinely intelligent and yet not lose the stuff that makes him twelve years old. Even Juliet, who had the potential to be extremely annoying, was a pretty solid character. (Although I really want to know how Mrs. Fowl ended up with a sixteen-year-old Butler. What happened to her first bodyguard? Or did she marry into it?)
I love that there were absolutely no bad guys in the book, even if Cudgeon was a bit of an asshole: everyone had their good and their bad. For a book with such simple language, every single person in the book felt real.
Seriously. On par with Game of Thrones when it comes to character development. I loved it.
Favorite scene: It’s a tie! First: Artemis getting punched in the face. He badly needed to be punched in the face. And second: Butler kicking a troll’s ass in a suit of armor.
What didn’t you like?
The language was perhaps a little too simple. It did such a good job of not talking down to the reader that the vocabulary honestly felt a little out of place. Someone who could follow the plot could probably read at a slightly higher level… But at the same time, making the book less-challenging definitely qualifies it as a fun, quick read. And I don’t think it’s aspiring to be anything more.
The technology was also somewhat annoying. First of all, I’d love to figure out where this magical Mac is that can translate unknown texts with no more data than the reading order. Second, being literate in a language is not the same as being fluent in it (I’m literate in far more languages than I can speak), and I’d really like to know how he figured out how to speak a language when he only had the meaning for the logograms and no guide for the actual vocabulary–
Quick point to make: just because Artemis can read Gnommish doesn’t mean he can speak it. He deciphered the symbols, not the sounds.
— Alex Penland (@AlexPenname) March 28, 2015
But this is not a problem that bothered me when I was twelve. I’m pretty sure it’s not a problem that’s ever bothered any twelve-year-old ever, although I’d love to meet a kid who proved me wrong. Least-favorite scene: Probably Holly fighting the first troll. She’s too smart to be so stupid, and the whole scene was way too cliche. But she redeemed herself after she regained consciousness.
And in that vein, I’d gladly read about “Chix Verbil’s ill-dated quest to impress the dames.” Best name ever. #livetweetbooks
— Alex Penland (@AlexPenname) April 4, 2015
Seriously, Colfer, we better see more of him.