Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex (#7) by Eoin Colfer

Published: July 20th 2010
Goodreads badgePublisher: Puffin Books
Pages: 322
Format: Book
Genre: Junior Fiction/Young Adult Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl has summoned an elite group of high-tech fairies to Iceland. But when he presents his invention to save the world from global warming, he seems different. Something terrible has happened to him.

Artemis Fowl has become nice.

The fairies diagnose Atlantis Complex (aka multiple personality disorder)—dabbling in magic has damaged his mind, with symptoms including obsessive-compulsive behaviour, paranoia, and multiple personality disorder.

 Unfortunately, Atlantis Complex has struck at the worst possible time. A deadly foe from Holly’s past is intent on destroying the actual city of Atlantis. Can Artemis escape the confines of his mind in time to save the underwater metropolis and its fairy inhabitants?

The general reaction upon finishing this book went something like ‘Oh my gosh I need the next one now. Colfer you have got to stop doing this to me. I don’t even have the next book yet!!! *rushes out to find a copy somewhere, anywhere, like now!*’

This is the seventh book in the Artemis Fowl series and it has not lost its momentum, its wonderful storytelling, nor has it forgotten where it has come from.  The story continues from book six in the same way it doesn’t really. From book six we see the paradox created and Artemis and old foes facing off in a completely unpredicted twist of organised chaos, and now there is a whole other set of new things to deal with as a result.

Due to his years of dealing with and lying about The People and his actions, Artemis has developed Atlantis Complex, something similar to OCD, delusional dementia, and multiple personality disorder. In something of a definite new direction Colfer makes Artemis the problem that requires solving, something inside his own mind that can’t be controlled. There is a wonderful line from Butler about how when Artemis is under threat he just needs to know who to shoot, but when the problem is Artemis’ own mind he is at a loss. I think that is beautiful, and it certain shines a light onto just how close and protective Butler is of Artemis.

What was also wonderful was the pace we’re exposed to Artemis’ condition, nothing was rushed into and while we may not have seen the beginnings of the Complex, Butler describes its slow emergence and how he noticed small things at first until it developed into something that has taken over Artemis completely, something that becomes noticeable to Holly and Foaly. Artemis does well to cover it up, but little things like counting and his paranoia seep through the disguise, things he can’t control and it only gets worse as the story progresses and manifests in different ways. The Artemis way of trying to conceal it and use his own intellect to solve it become slowly overpowered as his reasoning and his behaviour cannot be helped, and he is fully aware of it happening which allow a great insight into Artemis’ mind and the affect the Complex is having on himself, even when he is not exactly sure what is happening.

The blurb makes light of it and almost trivialises it, and I’m not saying having this Complex doesn’t produce some very funny moments, but the way we watch Artemis and those around him deal with this Complex is on occasion so moving and saddening and while the story tries to stay light, it only adds to the magic of the whole situation and Colfer’s unveiling. This is where Colfer’s writing works and we’ve seen it in other books, he offers a seemingly light story that is full of hidden darker meaning with a few obvious serious moments thrown in, mixed through with jokes and humour to fool you into thinking things aren’t as serious as they are.

This approach isn’t relevant just to the Complex however; the other storyline is the threat to Atlantis and the scheme of Turnball Root, former commander Julius Root’s reprobate brother. This brings up its own deeper meaning and serious nature under a cloak of light heartedness. And with multiple events intertwined and connected with Artemis’ condition there are also many other aspects that come into play. As the blurb reveals, the enemy is an old foe of Holly’s, but the attention goes to more than just her, and interestingly, unlike past enemies there is a chance for a lot more sympathy to be given regarding the whole situation.

While you disagree with Turball’s actions for a lot of the book, by the end it leaves you with this pathetic feeling (see original definition of ‘exciting pity or sympathetic sadness’) and you really don’t blame him for anything, which is truly terrible feeling because a lot of bad stuff happens in this book along with the good and you come out the end of it without seeing a real winner or victory. The whole ending is strange, and certainly a little bit darker if you look behind the light heartedness that tries to take the focus. It is like there is a solution but it does not feel like a regular conclusion, things are different than before. Though having said that, the entire book feels different, one enemy is from within the hero’s mind, while the other enemy makes you pity and admire him, it’s a complicated emotion and one Colfer causes and executes wonderfully.

Restricted by avoiding spoilers here because everything is connected and everything is something, but there are a few fun things to talk about to entice and be vague about such as giant squids, interspecies love, Orion, zombies, wrestling, and giant blobs of doom, not to mention the wonderful and typical banter that goes on between all the characters. It really is a nice group effort this time around, characters from all books coming together, all having their part to play both individually and as a team.

There are a lot of things happening, and as I say it all connects, but until it does there are some wonderful moments and scenes where a few characters have a seemingly dangerous but very fun time on their own, people pair up who you do not expect and smaller players get bigger roles this time around. Even away from the sympathy of his condition, Artemis has some wonderful and hilarious moments where the Complex impacts and influences certain situations so it isn’t all serious, and even then the serious moments are filled with humour.

The fact Colfer makes you laugh through this entire book really brings the whole thing together. If not I think the risk of having it too serious and out of sync with the other books would be a failing. It could be seen a serious side step from the normal story trend but I think if you follow the series from the start you see how it is evolving and developing via the characters. Character development means new situations and focuses and really, the entire Complex focus is a key result of all past books coming to a head. Each book is connected and you really can’t have one without the other, like real life where past events influence new ones and Colfer never forgets where his characters have been and how this affects where they should go.

And having past enemies returning is something that works much better I feel than a new enemy appearing each book, people and fairies alike hold grudges and when the moment comes, who wouldn’t take it. That is the angle Colfer is taking. For the reality of the world he’s created it isn’t prone to ongoing villainy and grand master plans all the time, it is the few conniving and manipulative people who keep trying to achieve what they want and then take revenge on those who stopped them before.

I really loved Artemis in this though; I like how different he was. It is like in previous books where he reverts briefly back to the person he was in the beginning and you see this completely new side, but it’s nothing like it at the same time. I adored watching Artemis in his confused and altered state; it was something completely different and certainly unexpected. You knew from the blurb that he wasn’t going to be himself, but all you’re told is that Artemis Fowl has become nice, that does not prepare you whatsoever for what Colfer has in store, it so much more than that. It is so beautifully done, well planned out, well spaced out and so believable it is almost heartbreaking at times when you think too hard about it.

What was fantastic about this book is that you can see the fear in Artemis, not the comic fear from past books where you see him out of his comfort zone, but proper fear from himself and what is happening to him. It is some of the greatest story telling and excellent execution I’ve seen. You get a sorrow for Artemis that you didn’t have before, you fear for him, you are scared for him and you worry about him in such a serious way you didn’t know you could worry for a character before. Colfer is magnificent with this book, Artemis is like we’ve never seen him before and it just works so wonderfully. There is a new side that clashes with the old side, and while we know Artemis is exceptional, he is only human, only a teenager, and after all that he has seen and been scared of, his mind terrifies him the most and you can see it and feel it in the way Colfer tells us his story. It’s simply magnificent and by far one of my favourite Artemis stories.

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