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!

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