Thursday, October 18, 2018

Top 5 Child Prodigies in Literature | #AFReadAlong

Today's post is part of my Artemis Fowl Read Along; if you haven't joined yet, you should!

Artemis  Fowl
from Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series
How does one describe Artemis Fowl?

How indeed. Before Artemis is even out of his teens he's done the impossible a dozen times over: proving the existence of fairies just to hold one for a gold ransom, going toe to toe with the Russian mafia and the Chicago mob, rediscovering a lost civilization, cracking an ancient and unknown language all on his own, grappling with the most brilliant minds on and under the planet -including his own- and scheming some of the most audacious, ludicrously rewarding, and incredible heists and plots the world had ever seen.

Artemis is impossible not to love, even if I occasionally want to strangle him. He's cool and calculating, amusingly arrogant, and oh so, so clever. What I love most about Artemis is watching his fantastic development through the series; his growth is slow, almost grudging, but immensely rewarding and heart warming. Watching him lock horns with his outside influences -especially Holly Short- as he struggles between his conscience and his moral ambiguity is what story gold is made of.

Conor Broekhart
from Airman by Eoin Colfer
Conor was born with an obsession for flight -perhaps because he was born in the air while his parents were dodging bullets in a hot air balloon at the World's Fair, 1878. Conor was also born with his mother's scientific brains, which he turns to the purpose of designing a flying machine. What I love most about Conor is the fact that he's a dreamer, his head stuck in the clouds, and his great intellect is determined to keep it there. And when his world turns upside down and everyone turns against him, his dreams and his genius become his refuge, keeping him sane and alive.

Ender Wiggin
Ah, Ender. Poor, brilliant Ender. The greatest strategical genius the world had ever seen, and he was bred for just that purpose. Which is what makes Ender so interesting. Even while he's outplanning, outthinking, and outsmarting every other older and bigger team at Battle School, he finds joy and fun in it but struggles too with the fact that this is his entire purpose -that this is the sole reason he was born. 

Ender is the smartest person in any given room, but what I love most about him are his moral complexities in the midst of an intergalactic war and his very simple, very human desire to be liked and loved for who he is -rather than feared and revered as the leader he's meant to be. For as smart as Ender is, he is still young, an innocence we see slowly stripped away as he is tailored and tweaked by his puppeteers into the military leader Earth needs to survive -and someone heartbreaking and beautiful they weren't quite expecting.

Damian Wayne
from DC Comics, character created by Grant Morrison
Much like Ender, Damian was bred and raised for a single purpose: to become the greatest of military leaders and save the world. At least, 'saved' by the standards of Ra's al Ghul and his League of Assassins -which isn't a good thing.

Damian is brilliant, cheeky, and arrogant; he's also brutal and a touch homicidal thanks to his twisted upbringing. One of the things I love most about this 10-year-old is how hard he fights for the world to take him seriously -specifically his Robin predecessors- and how it really boils down to wanting to prove his worth to one person and one person alone -his father, who reached into the pit of death, darkness, and destruction that Damian was raised in and tried to shed a little light and moral justice in his son's life. And the other thing I love about Damian is this moral struggle, this epic battle where nature vs nurture have drawn battle lines in his very soul.

What is it with me and morally conflicted child prodigies?

Of course, no Child Prodigy list would be complete without everyone's favorite cartoon trouble-maker. His genius takes many, many different forms -snowmen, insanely sophisticated make-believe often of a scientific nature, and deep philosophical discussions- but isn't always evident -BATS AREN'T BUGS! and that most of his attempts at ducking school or homework could have been better planned out. So while Calvin isn't perhaps a well-rounded genius, he isn't your ordinary six-year-old either. What I love most about Calvin is the balance in him between the vivid imagination and joy of childhood with the (at times) very mature contemplations on humanity and the state of the world. But seriously, more massive snowman escapades and Spaceman Spiff, please.

Child prodigies are rare gems in literature -hard to get right, but perfect when mastered. I'm always on the lookout for more interesting ones, so come on; spill:
Who are some of your favorite child prodigies?

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