Thursday, January 17, 2019

"So We're Friends Now?" | OD Ch 4-6 | Artemis Fowl Read Along

Chapter 4: Narrow Escapes

Angeline sighed down the phone line. "I'm fine, Arty, but you sound like you're doing a job interview, as usual. Always so formal."

During our Eternity Code read along last month, I started wondering about the exact nature and effects that Holly's healing had on both of Artemis' parents. Namely, is the obviously profound mental effect it had on both of them a reemergence of their own natural personalities -Angeline describes the changed Artemis I as who he was before the Fowl Empire got a hold of him? Or did Holly's healing actually alter their personalities? We know fairy magic is capable of this because of the relocation program we witnessed with Loafers McGuire.
So naturally this comment from Angeline Fowl about Artemis' formality is very interesting to me. I'd always suspected that Artemis' rigid manners were due to a rather strict upbringing. Maybe this was true as far as Artemis Sr. before the Arctic rescue, but has his mother always been this easy-going? Or is this, too, a by-product of the fairy healing?

I've never been so curious about Artemis' upbringing before this read along, but now I want to know everything. I'm excited to get to The Time Paradox because as I recall it delves more into what his childhood was like.

Luckily, Artemis had been able to rescue him with Butler's help.

So in Artemis and Butler's mind-wiped brains, they managed to rescue Artemis I from the Mafia on their own. I simply find this interesting on a couple of levels:

1) That Foaly would leave even this much of the actual events in their minds; I know he said that Artemis wouldn't remember the People even if they showed up at his front door dancing the cancan, but what about Butler? Especially considering that the rescue operation is in his wheelhouse of skills and directly related to their trip underground to disperse the B'wa Kell uprising. But I suppose even that's not strong enough to trigger a recall for him.

2) How, exactly, does the fairy-free version of the rescue play out in their minds? I wonder this mostly because in The Arctic Incident, Artemis is fairly certain a rescue will be impossible without the aid of fairies. Personally, I suspect Artemis knows simply that it happened, but doesn't remember anything in detail nor has any desire to, which is really just his brain evading the sticky problem because it knows the events won't stack up -something Foaly's mind wipe technology is counting one. I also suspect that, should Artemis really concentrate on the details, what he'd get is a series of far-fetched 'possibilities' that wouldn't really answer his questions -just like the Sherlock episode "The Six Thatchers", not answering several times how Sherlock actually survived his Reichenbach fall.

And this thought entertains me to no end.

"...Use that big brain of yours to make yourself and other people happy. Forget the family business. Living is the family business now."

1) Angeline Fowl is awesome. I adore her.

2) I'm always looking for good life lessons and bits of wisdom in books to add to my own life: This is a good one.

3) The internal battle that this stirs in Artemis is lovely.

Angeline Fowl had a way of awakening his conscience. This was a relatively new development. A year ago he may have felt a tiny pinprick of guilt at lying to his mother, but now even the minor trick he was about to play would haunt his thoughts for weeks.

BEHOLD! The fairy influence and hard-learned lessons are still in Arty's subconscious.

And these doubts and indecisions from Artemis continues on, but my favorite is in regards to The Fairy Thief. While Arty tries to justify that the theft of thieves isn't really a crime, a little voice in his head is whispering that it's only justified if he gives the painting back to the world, instead of keeping it for himself.

In my head these little voices are personified not by a shoulder angel and demon, but a pre-mindwipe Artemis and an in-the-midst-of-ransoming-Holly-for-gold Arty.
D'arvit! I was hoping to find a piece of fan art with this idea, since I'm rubbish at drawing myself, but no luck.

"It can't go inside," muttered Artemis absently, and was immediately surprised.

I have always loved this moment when Artemis is admiring Herve's The Fairy Thief painting, depicting a fairy about to steal a child, but hesitating at the window sill, and all the other fairy-influenced bits trickling down despite the mindwipe.

This also makes me curious about Herve. Did this painter know enough about fairies to actually depict his painted creation's hesitation without an invitation intentionally?
Is this there now a need for a 'Herve and the People' fanfic?

Holly's inner voice

That core of steel she has that makes her such an excellent LEP officer, that makes her get back up when she's down, and do her best no matter what?

It sounds an awful lot like Julius Root.

Chapter 5: Meet the Neighbors

Daniel Mays as DCI Jim Keats
in Ashes to Ashes

...[Ark Sool] believed that the LEP was basically a bunch of loose cannon who were presided over by a maverick.

This description of Sool reminds me of another IA character, DCI Jim Keats from the British cop show Ashes to Ashes. He also describe the group of heroes as 'mavericks', though he did slither his way into the group with a promise of helping them because he claimed to have a soft spot for the old mavericks. It's interesting to to note that Keats also turned out to basically be the devil in disguise.

Oh, hi, Ark Sool!

I didn't think it was possible, but I hate Sool even more now.

In his dreams, strange, red-eyed creatures had ripped open his chest with scimitar tusks and dined on his heart.

Interesting! I've never noticed before, but Arty's dreaming about trolls here. Despite the mindwipe, it's amazing how much information Butler and Artemis' subconscious minds retained. It also has me thinking now that Herve very likely could have been mindwiped as well, and still had the subconscious though to make that fairy thief hesitate at the window.

"Why are you crying, girl?"

This is such a wonderful reference to Peter Pan and I love it. ^_^

This is it.
This is Artemis and Holly's entire relationship to this point in a nutshell.
An acorn nutshell.

Chapter 6: Troll Nasty

You've got a 'friend' in me

When Butler discovers Mulch making himself at home in Fowl Manor, the dwarf claims that they were -hopefully are still- friends. And this got me thinking about how many times the word 'friend' has been used so far in this book. Foaly uses it to describe Holly and Julius; Holly uses it when thinking of Artemis and Butler; Mulch uses it when thinking of Holly, Artemis, and Butler. Angeline prompts Artemis that he should be worrying about teenager worries, school and friends.

I find this interesting mostly because, before the mindwipe, most of the gang were maybe grudging partners in crime, maybe friend-ly, or on the brink of friendship, even -but they weren't quite friends yet. I don't recall any of them using the word to describe one another, not even Foaly. (Feel free to correct me on this if I'm wrong.) The closest I can think of is when Holly mentions to Foaly the mindwipes were a pity in The Eternity Code, because she and Artemis had almost become friends.

I like this decisive shift in everyone's behavior. It's due in part, I think, because of Julius' sudden murder, sort of helping everyone realigning their priorities. But there's that age-old adage, too: Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Well, that's all for this week's discussion. Thanks for joining me and please comment below with your own thoughts on these chapters!

Your #FowlDay Challenges, if you choose to accept them, are:
1) Share your favorite quote from this week's chapters here, on my Facebook, or my Twitter.
2) Weigh in on the discussion of the healing's effects on Artemis' parents.

Tune in next week for more discussion; same Fowl day, same Fowl blog. ;)

January's reading schedule for The Opal Deception will be as follows:
Jan 11-17: Chapters 4-6
Jan 18-24: Chapters 7-9
Jan 25-31: Chapters 10-Epilogue

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Saddest One of All | Opal Deception 1-3 | Artemis Fowl Read Along

The clones looked fine, but they were basically shells with only enough brain power to run the body's basic functions. They were missing the spark of life.

I'm pointing this bit out to save for a later date; specifically, when we get to The Last Guardian, because Opal's clone does come back into play a little. It's been long enough since I read that book that I can't remember quite how all the pieces fit. So this is a reminder for me to compare the two, when the time comes, and a reminder for you to help remind me. ;)

It occurs to me that Opal Koboi is to Artemis Fowl novels what Number 1 is to Bond Films. Now that I think about, all throughout The Arctic Incident Colfer refers to Opal several times with cat-like traits (purring, curled cat-like on her Hoverboy), which correlates rather nicely with the fact that Number 1 is usually seen villainously stroking a fluffy white cat. Coincidence? I think not.

Pascal Herve is not, if you were curious, a real life painter. I was kind of hoping that maybe all but the 16th rumored Fairy Thief might be real paintings, but alas. Pascal Herve is, however, the name of a French cyclist and we know that Eoin does love to share names across his universes; maybe he's a cycling fan?

"This outfit is preposterous."
I love Artemis trying to play the part of a normal, modern teenager. He's such a cranky old man, griping about these 'brainless young kids, these days.'

Perhaps next time.
Leaving the bank vault with his prize, Artemis gloats at the rest of the security boxes. Ahh, for a criminal mastermind, the world is filled with such wonderful possibilities, isn't it?

For the first time Artemis smiled sincerely, and for some reason the sight sent shivers down Bertholt's spine. "Do you know something, Bertholt? I think some of my best work will be done in banks."
Any time Artemis' vampire smile appears in a good moment. But this one also gets added to the joke counter.

And deep underground, we find Holly grappling with the possible doom of promotion. Luckily -or not so luckily?- Root is there to help her make the right decision.
"...this promotion is not for you; it's for the People."
I've mentioned before that Holly Short is basically my favorite action hero. And the thing about heroes is that they are the ones who sacrifice not only their own well-being but their own desires for the greater good and the needs of others. Holly is a true one. Later on, when she volunteers despite her fear to accompany Root into E37 and the obvious trap, she steadies herself with a similar thought. That was what being an LEP officer was all about. Protecting the People.
And this brings to mind yet another parallel to Die Hard's John McClain; this conversation from Live Free or Die Hard popped into my head while reading this chapter:

The Artemis Fowl series -almost entirely thanks to Holly Short- really is Die Hard with fairies!

So Holly is reminded, yet again, that what she wants is not the most important thing here. That's not the job. But Root, never a softy, nevertheless finds a way to soften the blow -even if his attempts to actually soften the blow did little to help.
"If it makes any difference," he said quietly, almost awkwardly, "I'm proud of you."
It does make a difference, thought Holly...A big difference.
This is, without a doubt, the nicest thing Root has ever said to her and, I think, the one thing he could say that would ever truly matter to Holly.

While Holly and Root are heading toward E37, we find out about the movie in production inspired by the events surrounding the B'wa Kell uprising, and this bit struck me as particularly funny.
...and Artemis Fowl was to be completely computer generated.
I mean, Hollywood today generates their scariest monsters with CGI -why not the fairies? And to the People, what indeed could be more frightening than a too-smart, cold-hearted Mud Boy?

"Every shot is registered on the LEP computer, so we can tell who fired, when they fired, and in what direction."
The irony here. Foaly is so proud of his new toys. And Koboi did vow to bring him down by besting him at his own precious skill set.

"Just push the button, before I come out there and push it with your face."
"Some things never change," muttered Foaly, pushing the button.
A reference, of course, to another charming Root/Foaly/faced-used-for-button-pushing conversation. But this -we know and Foaly will soon know- is a lie; things always change, eventually.

"It really tugs my beard to put us in harm's way over a goblin, but that's the job."
Heroes. Greater good. Protecting the People, even the bad ones. Colfer does such a wonderful job leading up to this moment. Even Koboi, taunting Holly about whether they've come up with something ingenious -it makes you wonder, if Holly and Root had decided to leave Scalene and save their own skins, would Koboi have still had a way to carry out her plan? Or is Koboi so familiar with how they work, with how their hero brains think, that she knew they would never leave the goblin in danger? Would that have been the ingenious plan to save them both? But in the end, it doesn't matter. Holly and Root are heroes, through and through. Even if they knew leaving Scalene behind would have saved them both, they never would have done it. Because they're the guys.

Random aside -I've never picture Root with a beard before.

Were they just about to do exactly what she wanted?
Taunted by Koboi, Holly starts to question their plan. But Root's in position. And they have a plan. So she follows it. I imagine that going's to be responsible for a lot of sleepless nights.

Faced with the tiniest possibility of saving her commander, Holly doesn't hesitate to jeopardize her own position -or to defy Root's orders one last time- to take that chance.
"I'll save Artemis next," she said.
And this, of course, demonstrates the most common burden of heroes: the inability to save everyone -and the inability to accept that.

"Be well."
-I love these as the last words of Julius Root. He's already said he's proud of her; he's trained her as best he could; despite flaws, she's lived up to and even exceeded his expectations; he knows she'll do what needs to be done to protect the People. In the end, this seemed the most important thing left to say.

Right now, she had an order to follow. And she would follow it, even if it was the last thing she ever did, because it had been the last order Julius Root ever gave.

This has always been the hardest chapter for me to read. Losing Root never seems to get easier.
When I first discovered the series, I talked my family into listening to the audio versions on car trips. They took this chapter even worse than me. My mom flat-out refuses that it exists; instead, she and my sister assert that a shared universe with Stargate SG-1 allowed Root to be resurrected with a healing sarcophagus and that Root is still alive and well below ground. They didn't read much farther into the series.

Sorry to start the new year off on a sad note, but Root's memory will live on in Holly -especially as she gets ready to take down Opal Koboi.
Next week, we're reading chapters 4-6 and discussing here Jan 17 for #FowlDay. Don't miss it, and thanks for joining me!
But don't leave me hanging -what are your thoughts on this week's chapters?

Friday, December 28, 2018

"Ambition had a price..." | Eternity Code 10-Epilogue | Artemis Fowl Read Along

Welcome back, Fowldom, to the Artemis Fowl Read Along! Apologies for the day delay; spotty Internet that must be due to the magma flares. But no fear! This week we'll still wrap up with some thoughts on the finale of The Eternity Code.

"...I think we're getting to know one another too well."
Holly says this after laser-cutting a section of ceiling and letting it drop to the floor knowing that any sound or false move could alert Spiro and bring the whole plan down around her pointy ears. 'Won't that make a lot of noise?' Foaly asks in her ear. 'I doubt it,' Holly replies, without concern. Because she's anticipated Artemis; specifically, she's anticipated that Artemis will anticipate her and, by extension, anticipate her anticipating him.
I love this moment because it demonstrates that -despite their relationship's rocky start- Holly and Artemis are so familiar and comfortable with each other's skills and abilities that they are a near-unstoppable duo. And that wouldn't happen without trust in each other. If Holly hadn't trusted Artemis to anticipate her, she would have had to find another way in, and maybe there wasn't. If Artemis hadn't trusted Holly to rescue him, who knows if he ever would've gotten out?
This is a small moment in the scope of the book, but it really illustrates the leaps and bounds with which their relationship has developed -and it gives us a glimpse of what could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Until you remember Artemis is getting mind-wiped at the end-goal.
Yeah. Except for that.

"Well, Foaly. Astound me."
Aaaaand can we all just appreciate the bromance that is Artemis and Foaly's relationship? They are the only ones who can truly appreciate each other's skills and intellects and don't pretend they don't enjoy trying to outwit each other (because we know they both love a challenge).

"What do you want me to do? Cut it off and take it with us?"
Ahh, this is when Artemis gives Holly the finger. Well, makes her take the finger, anyway.
Before, when I said Artemis and Holly were getting along so well, trusting each other? This is where that breaks down again, because Artemis didn't trust Holly with the entire plan. And in Artemis' defense, he had a valid reason: she might not have gone along with it. Then again, even Foaly admits that one thumb is nothing compared to getting the Cube out of Spiro's hand, so maybe Artemis should have been a little more trusting.
"...and I thought you'd changed. The commander was right. There's no changing human nature."
This was not how magic was supposed to be used. Artemis was manipulating the People to his own ends, once again.
Ouch. And I mean...ouch. Whether Holly recognizes it or not, Artemis is trying to do the right thing. Maybe not entirely well, but he's trying.

"Yeah, well, maybe you made me too much like you, Fowl. Aurum Est Potestas. Gold Is Power. I'm just doing what you taught me."
First of all: Foaly gets in a good dig at Artemis for all the trouble the boy's greed has caused the People over the years.
Secondly: Artemis and Foaly didn't rehearse this banter at all. Remember, this wasn't the original plan. This is the Plan B everyone hoped they wouldn't have to resort to. And besides that, Artemis didn't talk to Foaly about this plan at all; the first time he speaks to the centaur about the heist is after Holly rescues him. Holly was the one who recruited Foaly while Artemis was already in Spiro's clutches. Judging by Arty's fear that Foaly's attitude as the voice of the C-Cube would blow their cover, the plan wasn't even for the 'C-Cube' to have a personality.
I would pay to see a stand-up Artemis & Foaly show. Just saying.

Artemis smiled his best vampire smile.
"The better to see you with, Spiro."
CHILLS. Every time. This moment gives me chills no matter how many times I read it. It's just so Artemis and so perfect.

"But every now and then a male comes along with such a talent for hunting that he earns the right to use the name. I am that male. Artemis the hunter. I hunted you."

Will you take your chance to be a hero? To make a difference.
The entire book, Artemis has been struggling with the questions that his father posed to him, about giving up his criminal ways to help make the world a better place. And it has been a struggle, one made even more fierce when faced down with Spiro, a man who says Arty reminds him of a younger version of himself, a man who is the image of that exact criminal who doesn't care about the rest of the world, the exact thing Artemis' father doesn't want to see him become. Several times throughout the book, Artemis is unwilling compared to and fighting a comparison between himself and Spiro.
And this is the moment he ends the struggles and makes the decision to be like his father. To be a hero.
Albeit a well-paid one.
Hey, he's a work in progress.

"Never mess with a boy genius."

"...Because Butler is coming."
I like how, on top of the whole heist and impending doom to the world and the People alike, Artemis takes enough time of his busy schemes to butter Arno up for Butler's revenge. How sweet it is.

"...Maybe it would be better to let these memories go. Give the fairies some piece of mind."
"These memories are part of who I am," responded Artemis.
This I find an interesting talk between Juliet and Artemis, because they both make a good point. I think Artemis, smart as he is, realizes there's a decent chance he is going to revert back into the criminal mastermind he was when he decided to abduct a fairy -and he doesn't want to go back to being that person. His concern about the mind-wipe has always been for the psychological effects it will have on him. In a last ditch attempt to convince Root, he even tells them: "If you take away the memories and influences of the People...I might become that person again. Is that what you really want?"
We can easily surmise it's not what Artemis wants. He has finally made his choice. He saw the great toll his own greed had on his family and his friends; Butler was killed and the People's very existence was threatened. He took his chance to be the hero and decided to join his father's noble pursuits and leave the possibility of becoming a Spiro himself behind him.
The People are responsible for not only encouraging and influencing this change in Artemis, but are directly responsible for returning to Artemis the three people who do directly influence it: his parents and Butler.
Artemis is right to fear what lies ahead if he's robbed of these memories. The People essentially made him who he is today. And now the People have taken it away.
The Eternity Code closes with a single, heavy line: The world will remember the name of Artemis Fowl.
So much for the Psych Brotherhood and their so-called 'slim' chance of reversion.

It's been a fun ride up to here! That's why I want to close out The Eternity Code (aka, the Holy Trinity of Artemis Fowl) and 2018 with a final little piece of insight.

Awhile back I found this very interesting comment on Artemis Fowl Confidential's website:
Thank you, Veronica, wherever you are, because I ADORE this thought and it had never occurred to me before. Reading through the series this time around, this idea is always in the back of my mind. And you're so right! I think this question of Ambition vs Friendship is especially prominent here in The Eternity Code, because Artemis has no learned this lesson the hard way. His ambition -to create the C Cube and make millions- cost Butler his life (temporarily) and youth (permanently), it cost Artemis his blossoming friendships with Holly, Foaly, and Mulch, and it cost him the positive influence (and handy tech advantages) of the People. He manipulated all of these people for his own means and, now, his ambition has even cost him this valuable lesson and his decision to change his life for the better.

I have said for years that The Arctic Incident has always been my favorite Artemis Fowl book but, guys, I gotta admit: The Eternity Code might just have superseded that.

So going into The Opal Deception and 2019, I'm very excited to see how this idea continues to expand. Happy New Years, all; and stay Fowl!

January's reading schedule for The Opal Deception will be as follows:
Jan 1-10: Chapters 1-3
Jan 11-17: Chapters 4-6
Jan 18-24: Chapters 7-9
Jan 25-31: Chapters 10-Epilogue

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Commentary on Chapters 4-9 | Artemis Fowl Read Along

Time to play catch-up! Apologies to all for missing last week's update; today's will be a double, so I'll be back on track. (That's always a good way to finish off a year, isn't it?)

For chapters 4-9, here's my random thoughts, favorite lines, and potentially (though probably not) deep and insightful commentary. Let's begin.

Her big brother was very proud.
As Colfer is giving us a little background on Juliet Butler's childhood and upbringing, I'm wondering: What about her parents? We have no mention of the Butler siblings' parents -the only current family we're aware of was their Uncle, Artemis Fowl I's bodyguard, who died aboard the Fowl Star. It could be supposed that their parents are dead, therefore Butler is left to raise his (considerably) younger sister; it could just as easily be supposed that their parents are also in the 'family business' and are simply too busy guarding their own Principals, which got me wondering, how exactly do Butler families function? Do they live together, parents and kids, or apart as bodyguards to their respective Principals?
Let's think about it: by the age of ten, Butler children are either enrolled at Madam Ko's Academy and guard a low-risk Principal or go into service for wealthy families -which means by then their parents aren't a part of their everyday lives, which seems a bit more like fulfilling a legacy than having a family, which comes with its own complications. It also means that it's probably not an easy thing for any given Butler to find a spouse and keep with tradition. But given the closeness of Juliet with her brother and the fondness Butler appeared to have for their late Uncle, this 'family tradition' doesn't appear to hamper the relationships and affections of Butler kin.
I wonder if they ever do holidays or family reunions...
It's a winding rabbit trail, but these are the things I ponder for fun.

Obviously Mulch's next employment would be the Mob.

They release Loafers threes hours after a full search and several phones calls to the parish priest in his hometown.
Several phones calls to the parish priest.
Am I the only one who finds this hilarious?

Head of Airport Security: "Alright then, we've been on the phone with the lad's parish priest and he's alright to release now."
Airport Security Lackey: "If you say so, sir. But I thought you'd like to know he threw a security guard and two chairs through the window. In that order."
Head of Airport Security: "..."
Lackey: "..."
Head of Airport Security: "I need to make another phone call."

"It's more difficult than it looks," explained the boy.
I adore this image. Artemis Fowl. Brilliant. Genius. Devious. Can't make a sandwich to save his life.

"Old news to everyone but you, grandpa."
This was the moment Loafers McGuire lost all pity and sympathy. I mean, up until now, he's been enough of a comedic character that we can laugh at him and therefore love him; and he did have to put up with Mulch Diggums over a trans-Atlantic flight, so he has all our pity (and we secretly can't blame him for losing his cool at the airport); but the height of disrespect to Butler? Adding insult to injury? Reminding him and us and everyone that Butler has changed and will never again be able to do all that once he could, breaking our hearts all over again?!
You're as good as gone, Loafers McGuire.

Loafers' relocation is a pretty interesting scene to me, because we get a good look at how the People work and handle their problems, choosing not to 'eliminate' their enemies mob style, but with a memory wipe and relocation. I also like the little touch of the Kenyan warriors attributing these people to the 'earth spirits'. Well played, Colfer; well played.

It was a tough decision. On the one hand, his knowledge of the People was now a large part of Artemis' psychological makeup. On the other, he could no longer put people's lives at risk.
Artemis is cleaning up his own mess and, that he agrees to these terms shows that even though he hasn't fully embraced his father's new ideology, the latter's nobility is certainly rubbing off a lot more. Artemis isn't quite selfless, but he's starting to look after and concern himself with others -very unlike Spiro. And considering just how emphatically Artemis insists he is nothing like that 'cold-blooded killer', I rather suspect Arty is inspecting every one of his actions with a microscope and weighing his motives in careful consideration and comparison against Jon Spiro's.

Was this his natural personality, or the fairy magic? Or a combination of both?
Artemis is contemplating his father's change in behavior and you need to get comfortable. This is a long thought.
This wonderment of Artemis' is a VERY interesting idea, especially coming right afters Loafers' relocation to 'live a productive life', the only thing he feels drawn to, which is obviously a product of the mesmer, not just a mind wipe. Holly's mesmer.
Holly, who was able to cure Angeline's madness and bring her back to her normal self. And I ask myself, how much of that really was Holly magically curing her insanity? Because previously (though I can't find the exact reference now) Holly herself recalling it as particularly difficult because Angeline Fowl wasn't even there; instead of healing her directly, Holly instead left a strong 'magical pick-me-up' behind in the attic, which is what cured Angeline, and anyone who visited the room shortly after would have left whistling. Which sounds to me like it had mainly a mental effect.

So the question is -are either of Artemis' parents simply reverted back to their 'old selves' or did Holly's own traits and beliefs affect them to create new and improved versions?

Okay, all of Artemis Fowl Senior's quotes on page 156 (okay, in the whole book) are gold. But especially this one.
"And what about you, Arty? Will you make the journey with me? When the time comes, will you take your chance to be a hero?"

"Without you by my side, I feel as though one of my limbs is missing."
This phrase Artemis uses to describe the loss of Butler's companionship is a familiar one; we've all heard it, one place or another. This time it really hit home because -though it is a rather common expression- it really is the most accurate. I have been thinking on my late friend a lot through this reading of The Eternity Code, because I remember him saying it was the first villain in Artemis Fowl he could really despise.

"Trust me. I'm a genius."
Just classic, iconic Artemis.

"I never tell anyone exactly how clever I am. They would be too scared."

The 'very cinematic' description of Spiro waiting at O'Hare on page 173 reminds me of Megamind.

Pearson was smart, but Foaly was smarter.
You could replace 'Pearson' with any other name and this statement would still be true.

Don't call me Arty, thought Artemis. My father calls me Artemis.
Here is yet another link and comparison between Artemis Senior and Spiro, both representing the the choice and path that Artemis is currently struggling between -going straight or remaining a criminal. Here Spiro not only represents the path of the criminal but, on a deeper level, that Artemis Senior that was, whom Artemis spent so much energy hoping to please.

A note on Pex and Chips: To this day, my family will still quote -verbatim- the entirety of this pair's deep philosophical discussions pondering the whys and the hows of the world they now. Like nicknames. And horror movies. And deep-fried sushi.

All right, Fowldom; that wraps up today's (and last week's) portions of the read along. Join me next Thursday for the end of The Eternity Code, Chapter 10-Epilogue.

See you then!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Juxtapositions! All the Juxtapositions! | Eternity Code 1-3 | Artemis Fowl Read Along

Welcome to a new month and a new Artemis Fowl book! This week we're talking Chapters 1-3 of The Eternity Code.

My thoughts and commentary:

I've mentioned before how I not only love Eoin's sense of humor but that, growing up with these books, it was an influential building block for my own. And Fission Chips is a brilliant name for a tech company. Fight me.

"No, mademoiselle, I would not like to see the children's menu. I have no doubt that the children's menu itself tastes better than the meals on it. I would like to order a la carte. Or don't you serve fish to minors?"
This is a favorite and memorable quote of Artemis' -and for good reason! But it's not until a little farther down, when Butler admonishes his young charge for putting that waitress near tears, that it hit me.
This is the FIRST time we see Artemis dealing with 'normal' people in the entire series. Throughout the first two books it's been fairies and criminal contacts and school psychiatrists and Mafiya enforcers. But this is Artemis Fowl the Second, faced with an irritant of no compare -the condescending waitress. This is our first peek at how Artemis behaves out in the real world, on a daily basis (which, admittedly, is not much different). And while Butler's right -the kid needs to ease up- at the same time I can't help but loving Arty's snark.

In a careless moment he had nearly exposed his subterranean friends to exactly the kind of man who would exploit them.
A-ha! That conscience of Artemis' is beginning to get a work out -but it's only the beginning.
As mentioned later in chapter two, Artemis' actions have unintended but far-reaching consequences, putting all of Haven in lock down -but is it merely a moment of carelessness? Or something else? Artemis is a genius, yet we are supposed to believe that it never occurred to him that the Cube's fairy tech would naturally identify more fairy tech? I think this is less carelessness and more of a blind spot. Isn't it possible, even probable, that Artemis, blinded by his drive for money and power -Aurum Est Potestas- doesn't account for the devastating consequences where others are concerned, because he doesn't care? Or more accurately, he's in the habit of not caring. Because, despite everything he's been through up to know, he is still a criminal, looking out for his own gain and self-preservation, and even though he recognized the danger the Cube represents to the People after the fact, when it's staring him in the face and he has to confront it, the thought apparently never occurred to him amidst the Cube's construction and I suspect it's not from a lack of foresight, but from being blinded by his own selfish desires.
Which, actually, ties in nicely with the traumatization of the waitress. Remember her? Artemis is oblivious to the consternation he causes her because, and I quote, Artemis smiled in anticipation of his meal.
Conclusion: Artemis is greedy and selfish, which causes him mass blind spots concerning the consequences that don't affect him or those close to him.

"Listen, kid," [Spiro] whispered. "I like you. In a couple of years, you could have been just like me. But did you ever put a gun to somebody's head and pull the trigger?"
This, right here, begins a very interesting juxtaposition I want you to keep an eye on throughout the rest of the book, because this is the moment that Artemis begins to see the line in the sand. He might not realize it yet, but this is when the choice for him begins.
Will he keep on this path and become a criminal, like Jon Spiro?
Or will he forge a different path and become more like his father?

"Very noble," said Blunt. "That's your code of honor, I suppose. Me, I don't have a code."
Okay, more juxtapositions! This one is a stark contrast between our honorable, beloved Butler, and the vile coward Blunt who does not deserve the fictional oxygen his nonexistant lungs breathe!

...and it also reflects again on Artemis' own dilemma. Back in The Arctic Incident, Artemis assured Holly that his father would never dream of harming a living creature, because he was a noble man. At the time, Holly had jibed him about it: What happened to you then?
So the current standing:
Butler = Code of honor
Blunt = none
Artemis I = code of honor
Artemis II = none

And in this book, we take a look at Artemis going up against a truly bad guy, a confrontation the likes of which really hasn't been seen yet in the series, and find those statistics possibly shifting.
Spiro = no code of honor
Artemis = ???
I guess we'll see...

This 'future of our civilization' thing was happening more and more, lately.
Get used to it, Holly; it's not getting infrequent anytime soon.

"There was only one option. Without hesitation, Butler took it."

"Artemis, call me Domovoi."

Let me mop up some of these tears while I share a line that has stuck with me from this book through the years, for no other reason than it's a masterfully crafted bit of English. Seriously, lines like this from Colfer have affected my writing and the study of writing more than anything.
"...they fell over themselves to have their frail frames frozen."
Alliteration, baby. You gotta love it.

"Shall I walk?" asked Artemis. "Or will you beam me up?"
Artemis is 100% done with your crap, Dr. Lane, but a) he's had a hard day and b) with that decor, you deserved it.
This is our second look at Artemis dealing with normal people: waitress, 'nurse', and doctor (?).
You have to feel sorry for them.

There are many things to love about this innovated world created by Eoin Colfer, from the hi-tech fairies, to child criminal masterminds, to the many surprisingly useful methods of employing dwarf gas (and also dwarf gas). But especially the bit about Stonehenge being a pizza parlor with a cult of devoted followers who wear pizza-shaped headgear and have a 114-verse theme song. Where can I sign up for this?

Only rats and two species of monkey could see through a fairy shield.
...which two monkey species? Please tell me I'm not the only one who wants to know this.

Waiting to see what the fairy magic would do for him...
I'm skipping down quite a ways, to Artemis exiled from the cryo van whilst Holly performs the intensive healing on Butler -because it's another beautiful juxtaposition! And one that continues throughout the book, so be prepared for the gushing.
Artemis is reminded of waiting for his formerly legally-dead father to wake, while waiting to see if his father-figure of the last two years can be brought back from the dead, and both with the threat of uncertain magical consequences hanging over them.

And suddenly I was afraid. My father, the man whose shoes I'd been trying to fill for two years, was awake. Would he still live up to my expectations? Would I live up to his?
This line gets me every time. It's so beautifully captures the complicated emotions at play.

Artemis pulled a gold medallion from a leather thong around his neck.
Can we just appreciate that Artemis treasured and respected this gift from Holly enough that he actually took it and made it into a necklace, just to do as Holly suggested, to remind himself he had a spark of decency? The Mud Boy isn't hopeless after all.

"I am nothing like Spiro," objected the boy, " He's a cold-blooded killer!"
"Give it a few years," said Holly. "You'll get there."
This is, once again, feeding that comparison between Arty and Spiro. Not to mention, that's gotta sting for Artemis, especially when the 'cold-blooded killer' bit he's referring to was Butler's almost permanent death.

Thanks for joining me and humoring my excessive use of the word 'juxtaposition'.
Next week, we're reading Chapters 4-6 of The Eternity Code, but before then, share your thoughts on this week's chapters!