Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex
Here’s a book review I wrote for the Psychology Magazine. Hopefully, they shall publish it!
WARNING!!: SPOILERS AHEAD!! Please do not proceed if you haven’t read the book yet and plan to! I’ve given the game away in here ;)
Far from being the exciting thriller its blurb and the success of its predecessors promise, Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex is unexciting, predictable and, to use a word used too many times in the book, boorish.
The book starts off interestingly enough, with the immaculate Artemis struggling to keep his mind out of his own way as he tries, for once in his life, to be a Good Samaritan. Artemis, the erstwhile evil mastermind, plans to save the world from Global Warming through a novel concept which he demonstrates in Iceland. The demonstration ends disastrously with the LEP losing an entire squadron, a valued officer and seriously injuring Holly Short, Artemis Fowl and Foaly. This development would have surprised me, had I not seen almost the same thing happen with Julius Root just three books ago.
The book follows the progress of Holly, Foaly and Artemis as they race to save the city of Atlantis from an attack by a rogue space probe apparently controlled by no-one. At the same time, mysterious forces are trying to kill the Butlers, who fight their way out of numerous battles to eventually join Artemis in his quest.
The twist in the tale comes in the form of the discovery that Artemis suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Multiple Personality Disorder- all part of a disease called the Atlantis Complex. It is interesting and almost comical to find the always-in-control-Artemis battling OCD as he loses grip on his most precious possession- his mind. His counting aloud to five in moments of tension, or shuddering at the thought of the number four is a thrilling way to draw the reader into the story. Colfer begins his tale by introducing the symptoms of OCD in a subtle manner. The fragmented sentences that Artemis speaks, mentally adding up the number of words so they progress in multiples of five or when he counts the number of chairs and tables in a room are hardly noticeable in the beginning, but become more significant and intense with each passing moment. As a student of psychology, I was delighted to find Colfer skilfully weaving the intricacies of the disorder in his story.
A considerable amount of space is spent on Artemis’s alter ego who emerges as a result of the MPD. Orion is a faultless personification of everything that Artemis loathes. He quotes soppy poetry and lives in yester-year, swoons at Holly and calls Foaly a “noble steed”. Far from being intriguing, Orion is capricious and irksome. However, one very interesting aspect that Colfer introduces is the consciousness of Artemis in Orion’s mind. When Orion is at the forefront, Colfer actually describes Artemis entrapped in his own mind by the demons of ‘four’- a number he fears. Despite being entrapped, Artemis can clearly see what is happening in the outside world and is even able to direct his ire towards Orion for his tactless and idiotic ways. Colfer’s genius shines through in his mastery of the psychological aspect even as he adds his own twist to it. And yet, for someone who has always been in awe of the surprise element in the Fowl books, I was disappointed to find that I could actually predict that Orion would emerge as the hero by saving the day.
The story proceeds in an unremarkable fashion even though Colfer tries to show some real action a la Butler. Foaly tries hard to impress with his technological feats, but he too is unable to elicit a gasp of awe. However, one who does shock with his audacity is Turnball Root (brought into the mainstream series from the Fowl Files). The funny characters of Number One, the demon warlock and Mulch Diggums make an appearance very late in the book and are unable to save the sinking ship. The climax is silly as there is no action, no drama and a happy ending that seems too good to be true.
Colfer holds a goldmine in his hands in the form of Atlantis Complex, but this time, he seems to have stepped on only the mines. Maybe the next one shall strike gold.