Livetweet Books: Artemis Fowl #4

Warning: All LTBooks articles contain spoilers.

Every Saturday at noon CST I livetweet a book as I read through it for an hour or two.  It’s immensely enjoyable.

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.

This is long overdue. I’ve actually finished the next book in the series, but I’ll post a different review for that one.   Dune is on permanent hiatus until I finish this freaking series.

This is my least-favorite book in the series so far, even though a lot of stuff that I absolutely loved happened in this one.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it immensely: it just took a little time to adjust to the crazy-dark tone.

Why this book?

See the last review’s answer.  Continuing the series.

How was it?

I have mixed feelings about The Opal Deception. On one hand: I love Opal Koboi, I love the seriousness of the tone, I love the plot as a whole, I adored the ending. The “what did you like” section of this post is way longer than I was anticipating.

On the other… This is the first one of Colfer’s books where I genuinely did not like the writing.

And Artemis was an idiot for a good two-thirds of the book, which was more annoying than anything else.

What did you like?
Remember how I said The Eternity Code had a darker tone? It started off with Butler nearly dying, which was the closest thing we’d had to a main character death thus far in the series?  The Opal Deception makes The Eternity Code look like a fun, happy day at the circus.  It starts off with this wonderful, sweet scene…

Which is beautiful. A culmination of the relationship between Root and Holly.  It’s just followed up about a chapter later by this.

And this.

I may or may not have needed to take a quick break.

In other words, this book got dark fast.  And that took a little adjusting: so far, the books have been dark but upbeat.  Colfer has done a pretty good job of keeping things light, such as having Butler put on a suit of armor or bringing in Mulch to do some lethal farting when things get too heavy.

Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of Mulch…

…And I’m still convinced the Artemis Fowl series is actually just one long fart joke, considering Mulch passing wing managed to be a plot point way at the end of the book.  But overall he didn’t do a whole lot to help lighten the mood. Even the characters were aware of how just-plain-grim things got.

Which was great, because in these stressful situations we got to see the characters in a way we hadn’t really seen them before. Mix that with the realization that this is the first book where we see Artemis as more of a teenager than a child and we start to see these characters from an entirely new perspective.

That was the best part of this book: Artemis has always been on the same level as the adults, but there’s a natural barrier between adults and children.  Experience.  Specifically, emotional experience.  The past three books he’s been routinely faced with experiences that forced him to grow as a person, and at the end of the last book they were treating him like an equal rather than just like a crazy-smart kid.

Unfortunately, at the end of the last book Colfer got rid of that entire part of his personality.  Part of that lack of a divide came from the fact that Artemis himself was kind of out of commission.  But more on that in the next section.

The other best part of this book: Opal Koboi.

The tone was dark for a reason.  Opal Koboi was insane, brilliant, and competent. The absolute first thing she does upon escaping from the mental health hospital is successfully trap and kill Root.  She successfully frames Holly for his death.  In fact, the one and only mistake (and the one that gets her caught) is made by her assistant, not her. Opal is a very strong character.  Any writer can tell you: when you have a strong character, they can sort of take off in their own direction, no matter what your plans were for the book to begin with.  When reading The Opal Deception, you sort of get the feeling that she took the plot and ran with it, and Colfer was just trying his hardest to keep as many protagonists alive as he could manage. Plus she was nuts.

I sincerely hope we get her as an antagonist again before the series ends. Last thing that I loved: for all the grimness, the ending was decidedly optimistic.  Artemis and Holly are finally admitting that they’re friends, Artemis is actually regularly in contact with the fairy world, Mulch partnered up with Holly to start a PI agency, Artemis is enjoying his time with his family. It was beautiful.

What didn’t you like?

First, the writing took a serious hit.  After Root died, a lot of that amazing dialogue went right out the window.  Colfer seemed to get stuck in a lot of cliches and platitudes for most of the middle of the book.

And you could forgive Holly (her commander-slash-father-figure just died), but it wasn’t just her.  Mulch was guilty of this too.

There were way too many lines like “you’ll never get away with this” and “you monster” and “oh god it’s all true”.  It was just lazy.  I’m not sure if Colfer hired a ghostwriter to help him or if he was working on two books at once or if he just didn’t know what to do with that tone, but the quality took a dive for the middle 50% of the book.

Second, Artemis was an idiot.

That mind-wipe that made no sense at the end of the last book proved to be a huge problem for most of this one.  It was conflict for conflict’s sake, adding nothing to the  plot but an increased sense of hopelessness.  Watching Artemis battle with himself was a little interesting, sure.  And anyone who knows me knows I love my jerks: the asshole characters are usually pretty fun.

Not so here. The pacing of Artemis’ character growth has been so well-done and so satisfying that taking it all away for no plot-related reason was more frustrating than interesting.

Parting thoughts?

If the ending of this book (Artemis accepted as a contact of the People, in regular contact with them) had been the ending to the last book, this one would have been much more satisfying.  There was clearly a lot I liked about it, but Colfer shot himself in the foot with the mind-wipe and period of stilted writing.

So far The Lost Colony has been a lot better, though.


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