Thursday, November 8, 2018

Of Action Heroes and Psychology | Arctic Incident Ch 1-3 | #AFReadAlong

Hello and welcome back to the second installment of the eight month series that is the Artemis Fowl Read Along! The gang is all happy you're here. Well, mostly. Okay, Foaly is glad of a bigger audience and Mulch is just glad to have a few more pockets open to pinching and, while Artemis is happy to amaze and astound you with his intellect, he really doesn't see the point of having so many people around. Holly and Julius keep insisting this is too dangerous a journey for so many civilians and Butler is muttering about the logistical nightmare we all pose to Master Fowl's safety.

But hey. I'm glad you're here and I'm sure Mr. Colfer, wherever he is, is also glad, because that means you're another person in this world who gets to read his masterpiece of a series.

This week, we started Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident and we read the first three chapters. I'm experimenting with a new format for the read along this month but, to be honest, this entire Artemis Fowl Read Along is a big experiment! Be sure to let me know which aspects and post-types you like or you'd like to see.

So now that we've laid the introductions down, let's get started! First the summary (feel free to skip if you did the reading), then my commentary, then your #FowlDay Challenge!


We open, courtesy of Prof. J. Argon, with a short dive into Artemis' impressive resume of intellectual pursuits and contributions and criminal enterprises by the age of thirteen. We know from past experience that Argon is a bit of a crackpot, but since he tells us all about Artemis' astounding intellect and the cloud hanging over his head that is his father's disappearance in the Arctic at the hands of the Russian Mafiya, we'll let it slide.

Speaking of the Mafiya, our prologue parades us two years into the past -a year before Artemis managed to kidnap our favorite LEPrecon jock Holly Short- to the night the Fowl Star was struck with a rocket in the stern by the (supposedly) famous sharpshooter, Mikhael Vassikin of the fake Rolex, and slowly sank into the frigid waters of a the Gulf of Kola. Too slowly, his companion Kamar is sure to point out, with some snide remarks about his marksmanship and his own grandmother could outclass him. Because the Fowl Star sank so slowly, passengers would have had time to escape it, and now the Mafiya enforcers are stuck in the snow with a crew of hired hands searching for survivors. Gosh, Vassikin. Way to ruin everyone's evening.

But the search is not in vain. Despite the disgusting discovery that hot cola tastes very much like pitch, Vassikin and Kamar have hit the jackpot when a pale European man in an exquisitely tailored suit is pulled from the freezing waters. While he's not in the best shape -unconscious and doomed to lose his legs and quite a few fingers- he is alive. And the identity of this man makes him very, very valuable...alive...

Present day, we find Artemis Fowl II in session with his school counselor and we pity him from the bottom of our heart. The counselor, that is. Artemis Fowl is not kind to counselors; to be fair, the thirteen year old genius knows more about psychology than most of them put together, having read most of literature on the subject and even written some of it, under the pseudonym of Dr. F. Roy Dean Schlippe. (Which I'm totally counting as an Arty joke for the Joke Counter, by the way.)

Dr. Po is a little desperate. Artemis Fowl II has been known to eat several counselors for breakfast -and he's been attending St. Bartleby's School for Young Gentlemen less than a year. Po is on the verge of giving up himself, much to Artemis' amusement. Artemis hopes to help the good doctor along his way with a little discussion about Po's family heirloom of a Victorian chair -apparently once the Queen's favorite. And Artemis, ever so helpful, regrets to inform Dr. Po that it is, in fact, a fake. The furniture tacks, you see, are quite obviously machine tooled. Ah, Artemis. What a kind heart you have. Ah, Artemis, what devious little mind games you love to play.

But Dr. Po proves more astute than the other counselors and surprises Artemis with his deduction. Po doesn't treat him to a tired psychological disorder like the ones before; oh no, he simply accuses Artemis of not respecting anyone of his acquaintance to treat them as equals. Artemis doesn't like this much, especially when the conversation strays to talk of his declared-dead father. While he's quick to set the doctor straight because his father is in fact alive, no matter how long he's been missing, no matter what the courts say, and that Artemis himself will find him, it is Po who asks 'What then?' After all, even when Artemis Fowl I was around, he was too busy running a criminal enterprise to be much of a father. Is that what Artemis would do, too, become a criminal? Or perhaps he already is one?

And Artemis is quite done with this conversation. There a too many pangs in his chest. He deflects the doctor's inquest with another little mind game. 'Have it your way,' says Po, 'but you'll never find peace if you keep running from your problems.' Artemis is saved by the literal bell just then, as his encrypted phone receives a call from the only person with the number: Butler. The manservant/bodyguard says he has something. An email from Russia. Regarding the Fowl Star.

Meanwhile, in an LEP cham pod, Holly Short is stuck on stakeout duty, since that whole fiasco last year with the Artemis Fowl and kidnapping thing dumped her in a vat of hot water with the powers that be. But her partner is soon glad to have her at his side, as the flirty sprite Chix Verbil finds himself at the wrong side of a battery-powered softnose laser. In just her first appearance of this book Holly saves Chix's life, wins herself a deadly firefight against B'wa Kell triad goblins, uncovers a secret trading ring between goblins and humans for alkaline batteries, an illegal goblin-crafted shuttle, survives on brains alone by shooting a vat of coolant on top of herself to counteract a simultaneous heat wave from passing magma flare and, of course, fulfilling the age-old tradition of firefight banter.

It's a bad day for the Lower Elements for several reasons. Deadly weapons will soon be flooding the tunnels in the hands of violent but stupid goblins, and unfortunately goblins are far too stupid to have planned any of these nefarious schemes on their own, but worst of all, Holly knows it can only point to one person. Artemis Fowl.

It's time for the LEP to have another conversation with their current archenemy.

Holly wastes no time jumping to the surface to haul the Mud Boy down, by his ears if she has to. Preferably, actually. She still owes him for that whole kidnapping, bodily harm, stealing gold from the People incident. But she has to be smart about it.

Butler, meanwhile, is happy to see his charge again. But being the professional bodyguard he is, of course he doesn't let it show. He quickly briefs Master Fowl on recent events: There's been an untraceable email from Russia, with just a short video, of a man tied to a chair, with a sign that says in Russian: Hello, son. The video quality is too low to get any information from it, even to know for certain if the man is in fact Artemis Fowl I. But Artemis knows it is; it has to be.

The pair waste no time, setting up travel plans to get to Russia as quickly as possible, after a short stop back at Fowl Manor for Butler's 'things' -and some caviar. Because for ten thousand a term, Bartelby's serves absolute muck. But Butler doesn't quite make it that far. Despite his sixth sense warning him to the danger, Captain Holly Short manages to get the drop on him and, while it takes no small amount of effort, she eventually mesmer-izes Butler, effective taking control of his body and sending him back to the car. As Artemis finishes dashing off an email to the school principal as a distraught Angeline Fowl, he doesn't fail to observe Butler's odd behavior and welcomes Captain Short to join him in the visible spectrum.

The first meeting between kidnapper and kidnapped since that fateful venture is tense, to say the least. Artemis is desperate to get to Russia as soon as possible, Holly isn't in the mood to accommodate the criminal mastermind. And the mastermind doesn't put up much of a fight, because already his brain is turning the possibilities in his head, because fairies have certain abilities that might be advantageous should he cooperate.

We leave our unlikely trio of companions headed toward the Underground: one LEPrecon Captain satisfied with her success, one Mud Man helpless under the mesmer, one Mud Boy fast asleep in the back seat.

So begins my absolute favorite book in the Artemis Fowl series.


My apologies for the length of that summary; I'll make sure next week's is trimmed down.

"...even though his involvement with the goblin uprising during this year was going to be traumatic, terrifying, and dangerous, it was probably the best thing that could have happened to [Artemis]. At least he spent some times outdoors, and got to meet some new people. It's a pity most of them were trying to kill him." This is the line that hooked me. This is all it took for me to fall head over heels with this book, its story, characters, and Eoin Colfer's style. And because the story just kept getting better and better, I have been a fangirl ever since. (For a bonus, you've got to check it out as read by narrator Nathaniel Parker. It's audiobook gold even the People can appreciate.)

Now I'm going to be honest with you guys. I haven't read any but the first Artemis Fowl books since the series ended in 2012, which means I'm now 6 years older and -hopefully- wiser than when I last encountered these characters, and I'm certainly looking at these characters in a new light. Particularly Artemis. Who is such an arrogant little upstart! Don't get me wrong; I love his arrogant upstart-iness, I just don't remember noticing it before. When I first discovered the series I listened to the audios practically on repeat until I (and most of my family) had whole sections memorized, which was awesome, but now I realize how much I must have tuned out on those listens, how much in the story I took for granted. Because reading them now, critically, is proving a very interesting experience indeed. Which, by the way, is only increasing my love of the series.

During the session with Dr. Po, especially when talk of Artemis Fowl Senior comes into play, Artemis' behavior continues to scream 'broken boy' at me. He's playing mind games with the doctor because he doesn't see the point of therapy since he has all the answers himself, but that's DEFLECTION. Artemis declares with the stubborn faith of a child that his father is still alive, and that's DENIAL. When asked whether he plans to follow his father's criminal footsteps, Artemis reverts to mind games: AVOIDANCE. Artemis is, quite literally, too smart for his own good and the moment. I freely admit, I cheered when Dr. Po throws him for a loop by perceiving that Artemis' true problem isn't some psychological disorder, but simply that he doesn't "respect anyone enough to treat them as equals." Because this time around, I'm more invested in watching the struggle and development in Artemis' character than in watching a teenager (aka, peer) outwit and outmaneuver an adult professional. Isn't it amazing how books change and morph with your perspective?

Special note:
She's smart, she's quick, she's always ready with a comeback, she's a good cop, and she uses her feminine traits like compassion, sympathy, and attentiveness to make her even better at her job. In a time where movies and books love to feed me heroines who are far more comfortable with their masculine traits than their feminine ones, Holly has a pedestal right up there with the likes of Leia Organa and Iku Kasahara. Here's a list of my Top 10(ish) Heroines if you want to know more about that.

"And when the gardener had found the bodyguard's hideout just off the seventeenth green..." Can someone draw me this picture? Because I adore this image! Poor Butler, so lonely without his young charge, tugs on my heart strings and tickles my funny bone, as Colfer's tales are so wont to do.
Can we just pause a moment to appreciate the irony here, of the former kidnapper now contending with freeing his own kidnapped Father? And Artemis and Butler schooling each other on how kidnappings and ransom drops general work, when they've literally done it together? Turn about fair play, Fowl! It'll come back around, karma, sweet justice -whatever you want to call it, you might want to remember that it's always at play. And yes, it's about to get even better. (Or worse, depending on where you're sitting. *cue Artemis vampire smile.)

Last, but not least, I shall close with Butler's own observation of his young charge, as Artemis himself is mulling over Dr. Po's observations and the task ahead of tangling with the Mafiya: "Sometimes he thought that in spite of all his contacts, informants, and employees, Artemis Fowl was the loneliest boy he'd ever met."

#FowlDay Challenges

You're mission, should you choose to accept it, is to join in the discussion or all around good time fan party that is the Artemis Fowl Read Along by completing one or more of these tasks.
  • Find me some fanart of Butler hiding out by the seventeenth green I wasn't kidding about that. Whether you draw it yourself or send me a link to an existing one is up to you, but I seriously need that in my life right now.
  • Share some of your own commentary of Chapters 1-3 with me!
  • Share your favorite quote from this week's reading.
  • If this is not your first time reading the series, I'd love to know: How have you noticed your perspective on the story changing over time? What about the series do you find more interesting or complex now then when you were younger? Or vice versa?
  • Compile an Artemis Fowl music playlist (this will be a continual challenge throughout the Read Along, but keep me updated on song choices!)
Next week we're reading chapters 4-7 and we'll meet back here Thursday for more discussion and #FowlDay challenges!

If you missed my finale post for Artemis Fowl, be sure to check it out. Three words:

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