Artemis Fowl is a series mostly about a genius teenage criminal mastermind. Being so smart at such a young age gives him the ability to pursue certain matters that those older than him have chosen to forego, primarily those concerning the existence of The People, AKA fairies. The People are a group of magical being composing everything from pixies to trolls, who used to inhabit the Earth alongside humans, who they call Mud Men, but were driven into hiding after a war with them millennia ago. Now they inhabit two hidden cities, the underground city of Haven, and the underwater city of Atlantis. Furthermore, while they obviously have the advantage of magic, they are also far superior to humanity in terms of technology, both of which help them stay hidden from humanity, up until their discovery by Artemis Fowl.
In the first book, upon discovering them, Artemis Fowl does what he does best, try to steal from them. Specifically by kidnapping a certain fairy named Holly, and ransoming her. From there he develops a relationship with both her and a number of other fairies, which changes both him and the destiny of The People. In the second book he helps The People put down a goblin rebellion being led in part by an egotistic but highly intelligent pixie named Opal Koboi, to which they repay him by helping him save his long lost father from the Russian mafia. In the third book he puts together an item from cobbled together fairy technology that ultimately gets stolen, and as its a threat to the fairy world, ultimately is retrieved by both Artemis, his human allies, and the fairies he had grown to develop a relationship with from the previous books. In the fourth book, Opal Koboi comes back with a vengeance and tries to expose the fairy people to humanity, but is foiled yet again by the standard group of heroes, and at this point for all intents and purposes Artemis becomes a true ally of the fairy folk. In the fifth book, Artemis stumbles upon an island of demons sealed in another dimension that may end up appearing on Earth in an unfortunate and explosive manner in the near future, and has to compete to make sure that that doesn’t happen with another young ambitious genius named Minerva, who wants to expose magic to the world in order to gain a Nobel Prize. In the sixth book Artemis’s mother appears to have caught the magical disease Spelltropy, and he must go back in time and compete against none other than his younger self in order to obtain the cure, all of which of course results in a highly complex set of time paradox. In the seventh book Artemis catches a different magical disease, Atlantis Complex, that essentially makes him a bumbling idiot, but he still somehow manages to save Atlantis from collapsing. And in the eight and last book, Opal Koboi once again returns with a vengeance, executing a very extreme plan with irreversible effects for the entire world, that is of course ultimately stopped by Artemis and co, but not without sacrifices.
It was a pretty long series where each novel had its own contained story line. I very strongly believe that it was at its best when it was about a genius criminal mastermind. As such, I really enjoyed the first six books, where I felt Artemis truly embodied that, even when he was being benevolent. There was major character progression in that Artemis definitely grew as a person who became more sympathetic of others and the world around him, but still maintained the ego and… mischievous (to put it lightly) personality that made him who he was. I thought it got better and better and peaked in the fifth novel, but that while in the sixth novel it took a down turn, this key aspect was still mostly there, and due to the presence of old Artemis as well, I enjoyed it a great deal as well.
The seventh book on the other hand was terrible. He wasn’t a criminal at all and was planning a completely legit means of assisting with stopping global warming. He wasn’t a genius for essentially the whole novel either. In the entire novel there was only really one trick and it was a pretty weak one. Seeing Artemis bumble around like a moron is completely the opposite of what makes these books great. It was totally against the point. Furthermore, the villain was lame, badly developed, and didn’t fit. Now, Opal Koboi wasn’t amazing. She progressively became a more cartoonish villain with each new entry in her tale. This would be fine except for the time paradox which sort of makes it seem more random than character progression. There was definitely something strong there for her in the last book when she was making her last desperate attempt, but due to her character being out of wack its hard to place it well into a logical conclusion of progression rather than something random. Anyway, I digress. The villain in the seventh book was terrible. Him being related to Julius Root was ridiculously cliche. And his romantic plights made the tone of the book completely wrong for the series. I legitimately hate the seventh book and think its downright terrible.
The eighth and last novel was better in that regard, though still not as good as the first six. He was on the defensive far too long, and ultimately it didn’t really feel like his brilliance shone through in any situation. Rather the focus was on his selflessness, which is definitely a high point in the character progression that was laid out for Artemis, but it still felt forced. The ending itself felt like a half assed way to link the story back to the beginning and was unnecessary. He should have just woken up with his memories or not have woken up at all.
As for comments on the novel as a whole: There were lots of colorful characters. Holly, Mulch, Foaly, Butler, Juliet, Root, Trouble, etc. All of them were incredibly interesting. Even the vast majority of villains were interesting. The world itself was well made. The combination of magic and technology. The new takes on old mythos relating to fairies. All of it created a unique but interesting world, although I admit the world building wasn’t that deep. The relationships between characters were mostly great. Going from enemies to allies was a common theme that worked very well and led to the development of strong friendships. However, the romance was very weak. There were light hints that were then thrown away what seemed to be intentionally. I don’t know if it was due to fan feeback or what, but the author seemed to want to drop the entire topic. It would have done better without it honestly. What especially bugged me was how Minerva disappeared. What the hell? She’s just suddenly completely gone. Give me something. Anything.
Overall, the world was interesting and filled with lots of colorful characters with strong relationship development between them. The protagonist was amazing and entertaining to read about due to lots of clever tricks and plans, with these being the core highlight of the series. There were some issues, with the seventh novel especially being a major fluke, and the ending could be better, but overall still a strong series.