Did Not Finish, Science Fantasy

The Merman and the Moon Forgotten

The Merman and the Moon Forgotten book cover
Image from fantasysink. blogspot.com

Title:  The Merman and the Moon Forgotten (Nikolas and Company #1)

Author:  Kevin McGill

Genre:  Fantasy

Yeri Willrow thought he was performing a simple stagecoach drive and drop, until he’s attacked by horrid red-eyed creatures.  He soon learns that his passengers are a family of merfolk, and he is their only hope.  Nick hates the overpopulation and rampant consumerism of his world.  Then he starts hearing voices, and his grandfather tells him that the Moon is not just a satellite – it’s a whole magical world.

If the synopsis sounds a little disjointed, well…it fits the book.  I was going to give The Merman and the Moon Forgotten the hundred-page rule, but it’s only 170 pages.  So I gave it 75.  And then I gave up.

The story opened with Yeri driving a stagecoach chased by those red-eyed creatures.  I had three impressions from this scene – one, that Yeri was a placeholder character to follow until we found the main ones, two, that the red-eyed creatures were a common threat along that certain part of the road, and three, that this took place in some sort of fantasy world.

Then, we all the sudden jump to Nick, who I’m assuming lived in futuristic Earth.  He’s working on an invention to go back to the moon, and a bunch of details about the world are thrown around in a “hey, you already know this” kind of way.

And then we jump back to Yeri and some merpeople, and they need help with something (couldn’t quite figure out what) so they ask Yeri to take a message of some sort to someone.  And a bunch of terms are thrown around in a “hey, you already know this” kind of way.

And then it’s back to Nick, who destroyed his dad’s car (maybe?) and there’s something about a virus and his parents want to sedate him or something…

And that’s when I gave up, completely baffled as to what was going on. I wasn’t sure what the problem was, or which characters were important, or why I should care.

The basic idea that I gathered from the back cover – a lost magical world on the moon – sounded interesting. But the book was so confusing, I lost track of what was supposed to be going on. Overall, not worth the read.

I received a free copy of The Merman and the Moon Forgotten from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

Science Fantasy

The Last Guardian + Series Wrap-Up

The Last Guardian book cover
Image from theislandergirl.com

Title:  The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl #8)

Author:  Eoin Colfer

Genre:  Fantasy

WARNING:  This review will most likely contain spoilers of the previous books in the series, Artemis Fowl, The Arctic Incident, The Eternity Code, The Opal Deception, The Lost Colony, The Time Paradox, and The Atlantis Complex.  I recommend not reading this review unless you’ve read those books.

Opal Koboi has masterminded a way to both secure her release from prison and bring the human and fairy worlds to their knees.  And that’s only step one.  At the Fowl estate, Opal has reanimated long-dead fairy warriors.  Their spirits have possessed anything they can find – corpses, assorted wildlife, Artemis’s little brothers – and they are bound to obey Opal.  Defeating them and their diabolical leader will take all of Artemis’s cleverness, Butler’s bravery, Holly’s skill, and Foaly’s gadgetry.  But if their best isn’t enough, Opal’s next move will destroy all human life on Earth.

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book since before it came out, but I was also unhappy that the series was coming to an end.  And, I admit it – I was afraid the last book would not live up to the previous ones.

But boy, did it ever!

This book has a totally different feel than the other ones.  The series’ feel has evolved from definitely middle grade (Artemis Fowl) to definitely YA (The Time Paradox on).  This one was also definitely YA, but much, much more intense than the other books.  I think it had something to do with the scope of Opal’s plan, but the danger felt so much more dangerous in this book.

It’s absolutely amazing how much Artemis’s character has changed from the series’ start.  I’ve mentioned in previous reviews how Artemis has become less hard-hearted as the series progresses, but one development at the end of this book really drove that fact home.  (No spoilers, but it made me read faster hoping it could possibly be undone.)

I feel like I’m failing at adequately describing how amazing this book is, but I’m trying my best to avoid spoilers.

I admit it – I’m sad to see this series end after loving it for years.  But The Last Guardian wrapped things up in a way that was not only satisfying to a long-time series fan, but made me feel that any later books would be anticlimactic, redundant, and not nearly as good as the first eight.

To condense my opinion of this book into one word:  Epic.  Absolutely epic.

Series Wrap-Up:  Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series

Things I liked about the series:  The completely original take on fairy lore, and Artemis Fowl himself.

Things the series did well:  Made me like a selfish kid genius, then changing him into a less selfish, even more likeable teenage genius.

Things I didn’t like about the series:  About the only thing I can think of is how little a deal it was that Artemis’s parents found out about the fairies.  It seemed a tad unrealistic.

Things the series could have worked on:  Can’t really think of anything.

Final thoughts:  As a kid, the Artemis Fowl series’ gradual tone change launched me from middle grade to young adult books.  But when I came back to the series as a sixteen-year-old, I found the books still had the same appeal.

Science Fantasy

The Atlantis Complex

The Atlantis Complex book cover
Image from wandsandworlds.com

Title:  The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl #7)

Author:  Eoin Colfer

Genre:  Fantasy

WARNING:  This review will likely contain spoilers of the previous books, Artemis Fowl, The Arctic Incident, The Eternity Code, The Opal Deception, The Lost Colony, and The Time Paradox.  I highly recommend you not read this review unless you’ve read the previous books.

When Artemis commits his entire fortune to a project he believes will save the planet and its inhabitants, both human and fairy, it seems that goodness has taken hold of the world’s greatest teenage criminal mastermind. But the truth is Artemis is suffering from Atlantis Complex, a psychosis common among guilt-ridden fairies. Symptoms include obsessive-compulsive behavior, paranoia, and multiple personality disorder.  But the Atlantis Complex has struck at the worst possible time. A deadly foe is intent on destroying the actual city of Atlantis. Can Artemis escape the confines of his mind in time to save the underwater metropolis and its fairy inhabitants?

Like with The Time Paradox, even though I’ve read this book before, I remembered virtually nothing of it.  Which made it an absolutely thrilling read.

Artemis was by far the most fascinating thing about this book.  He’s a genius, after all, and when his brain turns against him….  Paranoia and OCD and multiple personalities certainly made this interesting (and humorous, especially when Artemis’s other personality, Orion, was around.  Orion the romantic idiot was as far a cry from Artemis the calculating genius as it’s possible to get).  While it was somewhat sad to see my favorite genius reduced to counting words to please the number gods, it was also uproariously funny at times.

The main focus of the plot was on Artemis and his battle with his brain, which means the other characters didn’t get much attention.  In fact, they seemed about the same as they were in previous books.

Actually, the book was focused so much on Artemis losing his mind that the plot (and the villain) weren’t as dangerous as usual.  I didn’t really mind it while reading, but I also didn’t feel there was much of an external threat.  The villain just wanted to save his wife.

I totally enjoyed the book, despite the lack of an external threat factor (or maybe because of the focus on Artemis, I’m not sure).  And due to the fact that the book ended before one plot thread was totally tied off, I’m left wondering if that plot thread will carry over into the next book.

Quick random side note:  I just discovered that Eoin is pronounced “Owen,” not “Ian” like I had been pronouncing it.  Pronunciation guides are definitely a good thing.

Science Fantasy

The Time Paradox

The Time Paradox book cover
Image from artemisfowl. fangathering.com

Title:  The Time Paradox (Artemis Fowl #6)

Author:  Eoin Colfer

Genre:  Fantasy

WARNING:  This review will most likely contain spoilers of the previous books, Artemis Fowl, The Arctic Incident, The Eternity Code, The Opal Deception, and The Lost Colony.  If you haven’t read the previous books, I recommend not reading this review.

When Artemis’s mother contracts a fatal illness, his world is turned upside-down.  The only cure is found in the brain fluid of the silky sifaka lemur.  Only one problem – the creature is extinct, due to a deal Artemis himself made years ago.  With the help of his fairy friends, he travels back in time to save the lemur.  To save his mother, Artemis will not only have to break all the rules if time travel, but defeat his most cunning adversary yet: Artemis Fowl, age ten.

Even though I’d read this book before, I remembered virtually nothing of it.  So even though I’d enjoyed rereading the previous books, this one reminded me how absoultely amazing the Artemis Fowl books are.

Artemis is definately not the heartless criminal he used to be.  In fact, he could actually be quite soft-hearted at times.  And though it doesn’t seem like he’s changed drastically through the series, he seemed like a downright saint next to himself at age ten.

The ten-year-old Artemis was a definite criminal – cold, heartless, vindictive, and brilliant.  Actually, he was about the same Artemis from the first book, Artemis Fowl.  Which is strange, because while I didn’t mind Artemis in Artemis Fowl, I hated practically the same character in this book.

I’m not going to say much about any of the other characters, because they’re pretty much the same as they were in previous books.

I’ve mentioned before that the previous books all had a middle-grade feel to them.  This one, though, was distinctly young adult.  It could be because Artemis was older, or it could be because the plot was much more convoluted than the previous books, but it definitely seemed more YA than anything.

Speaking of the plot, this was sheerly brilliant.  The fact that the “bad guy” was Artemis himself added an extra layer of both complication and fun – it was hilarious watching Artemis outsmart himself.  In an earlier review, I said that Artemis didn’t leave any room for doubt that he was going to win.  But this time, Artemis was the protagonist and antagonist – which just added to the tension.

The time travel, the Extinctionists, and the fact that everybody wanted the lemur just made it even more fun.  The previous books were funny, but this one is edge-of-your-seat tension mixed with brilliant humor.  Eoin Colfer is one of two writers I’ve found who can make me laugh in the middle of an action scene.

The previous books were great, but this one was fantastic, especially since I didn’t remember much of it.  It makes me glad I don’t remember what happens in the next book.

Science Fantasy

The Lost Colony

The Lost Colony book cover
Image from jss31.blogspot.com

Title:  The Lost Colony (Artemis Fowl #5)

Author:  Eoin Colfer

Genre:  Fantasy

WARNING:  This review will most likely contain spoilers of the previous books.  If you haven’t read Artemis Fowl, The Arctic Incident, The Eternity Code, and The Opal Deception, I’d recommend you avoid this review.

When the fairies moved underground, the demons refused to go with them.  Instead, they lifted their island out of time and into limbo.  Now the time spell is unraveling, and demons are beginning to materialize on Earth without warning.  To protect themselves from discovery, the fairies need to predict where the next one will show up.  And the only person who can do that is Artemis Fowl.  So when a very confused demon imp appears in a Sicilian theater, Artemis is there to meet him.  But he is not alone.  Someone else has unlocked the secrets of the fairy world and solved temporal equations that baffled Foaly…and she is only twelve years old…

About the only thing I remember from the first time I read this was one detail of the ending (which, unfortunately, was a spoiler) and that I didn’t like the girl genius.  I was right on the detail, and I still didn’t like the girl genius.

With the previous books, the only main characters were Artemis, Butler, and Holly.  This book had new characters – including Minerva (the girl genius) and a bunch of demons.

Minerva had an overly permissive father, an overly intelligent mind, and an overly inflated head.  She was used to getting her own way, and threw a fit like a two-year-old when she didn’t.  She may have been as smart as Artemis, but she was a spoiled brat.

NO1 was another new character, an imp (a young demon) who wasn’t very demon-ish.  He wasn’t so big into hating humans or eating raw meat.  That made him a misfit and a very interesting character, especially when he ended up on Earth.

Artemis and Holly I won’t touch on too much – they’re pretty much the same as they were in previous books.

The threat to the fairy world (anyone else notice that this is the main plot of all these books?) came from an unraveling spell.  Unless you count Minerva, there wasn’t really a bad guy.  It was more of a race against time to solve the problem.

I enjoyed the book, really.  It was a fun reread.  But, since I remembered a major spoiler of the end, it was better the first time around.

Science Fantasy

The Opal Deception

The Opal Deception book cover
Image from jss31. blogspot.com

Title:  The Opal Deception (Artemis Fowl 4)

Author:  Eoin Colfer

Genre:  Fantasy

WARNING:  This review will most likely contain spoilers of the previous books in the series, Artemis Fowl, The Arctic Incident, and The Eternity Code.  If you haven’t read the previous books, I’d recommend not reading this review.

After his last run-in with the fairies, Artemis Fowl got his mind wiped – and now he has reverted to his criminal lifestyle.  While preparing to steal a famously well-guarded painting from a German bank, he is targeted by an old rival, Opal Koboi.  The evil pixie spent the last year in a self-induced coma, plotting revenge.  Now, after luring Captain Holly Short and Commander Root into a deadly trap, she’s turned her sights to Artemis… the only one who can stop her plan to destroy the fairy world.

This is a reread, but I didn’t remember exactly what happened – until I opened the book, when it all came flooding back.  I also totally forgot a character died until the scene where it happened.  So the death came as a total shock even the second time around.

As far as the rest of the book goes, though, I remembered the main gist of it.  So even though I enjoyed watching Artemis and Holly attempt to stop Opal, I knew exactly how it turned out.  I even remembered the vast majority of the silly details.  I enjoyed the plot, it just didn’t have the same tension as it did the first time around.  The downside of rereads, I guess.

Holly was pretty much the same as she was in the previous books – feisty, kick-butt, and very, very stubborn.  She still had a disregard for orders and rules.  Basically, she was the same elfin captain I liked over the previous books.

Artemis was…well, I can’t say too much without spoilers, but I’m liking him even more as the series goes on.

Like I said before, I enjoyed the plot.  Even the second time around, it was still interesting.  As a reread, though, I knew exactly what would happen, so even though it was fun, there was none of the surprise factor like there was the first time.

In my review of Artemis Fowl, I mentioned that the book had a distinctly middle grade feel.  In my review of The Eternity Code, I said that it seemed more like upper middle grade.  I bet it’s partially due to the fact that Artemis himself is older, but this one felt more like younger YA than any sort of middle grade.

I apologize for this review being so short, but I’m running into a problem I find with almost ever series I review – repeating myself.  Certain plot elements, the writing style, and the characters carry over from one book to the next.  So if I don’t mention some element of the book, chances are it’s the same as in a previous book, and I didn’t repeat it.

Science Fantasy

The Eternity Code

The Eternity Code book cover
Image from blackplume. wordpress.com

Title:  The Eternity Code (Artemis Fowl #3)

Author:  Eoin Colfer

Genre:  Fantasy

WARNING:  This review will most likely contain spoilers of the previous books in the series, Artemis Fowl and The Arctic Incident.  If you haven’t read the previous books, I’d recommend not reading this review.

Artemis Fowl’s father is alive, home – and an honest man.  He wants Artemis to give up his life of crime.  Artemis will go along with it…but first, he’s going to complete one last scheme.  He attempts to broker a deal with powerful Chicago businessman Jon Spiro for the C Cube, a supercomputer made of stolen fairy technology.  But Spiro didn’t get to the top by playing by the rules.  Captain Holly Short agrees to help Artemis retrieve the C Cube – after all, it’s in the fairies’ best interest for Spiro not to discover them.  Spiro has the best security money can buy, but Artemis has the fairies on his side.  And everybody underestimates a twelve-year-old genius.

This book opened on a serious note, but it didn’t stay that way for long.  In fact, once the death scene was over, the book was laugh-out-loud funny.  Also, I mentioned in the reviews of Artemis Fowl and The Arctic Incident that both books had a distinctly middle grade feel.  This book I would describe as upper middle grade.  It seemed older than the previous books (and the death scene probably has something to do with that), but I still wouldn’t call it YA.

The characters were just about the same as the previous books…for the most part.  I still enjoyed Holly’s kick-butt, determined attitude (and the fact that she’s maybe three feet tall just makes it all the more fun).

Artemis, as it turns out, really does have a heart.  I’m liking him even more now that he’s more or less given up on the “evil” part of “evil genius.”  And even though I don’t remember liking Foaly so much the first time I read this series, he’s really starting to grow on me this time around.

I really enjoyed the plot.  I’m pretty sure Spiro wouldn’t be classified as a genius, but he certainly had resources.  It was fun watching Artemis go up against him, especially for reasons that involve the death scene.

But anyway.  I never had any doubt that Artemis was going to come out on top, and hardly any of that was because I’ve read the book before.  Artemis just doesn’t leave any room for doubt.

If I didn’t remember what happened in the next book, I would have been a little more dismayed at the ending.  As it is, though, it just makes me excited to read the next book, because I remember what happens, but not exactly how.  (And I think it involves goblins.)

Science Fantasy

The Arctic Incident

The Arctic Incident book cover
Image from tongbangbooks.com

Title:  The Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl #2)

Author:  Eoin Colfer

Genre:  Fantasy

WARNING:  This review will inevitably contain spoilers of the first book in the Artemis Fowl series.  If you haven’t read the first book, Artemis Fowl, I would recommend not reading this review.

Artemis Fowl is at boarding school in Ireland when he receives an urgent video email from Russia.  It is a plea from a man Artemis had thought he would never see again…his father.  Artemis rushes to save him from the Russian Mafiya, but is stopped by a familiar nemesis:  Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon fairy police.  Last time Artemis encountered fairies, he tricked them out of their gold.  But this time he’s going to have to join forces with them – at least if he wants to save one of the few people in the world he loves.

I remember liking this book the first time I read it – not quite as much as I liked Artemis Fowl, mind you, but I still liked it.  This time around, though, besides a distinctly middle grade feel that I didn’t remember, The Arctic Incident seemed very…similar to Artemis Fowl.

I mean, the plot was different.  It was “save Artemis’s father (and stop evil plot against fairy police)” instead of “cheat fairies out of gold.”  But half the time, I felt like I was rereading Artemis Fowl.  Re-explanation could be the culprit – most of the explanations of fairy-related stuff were in the first book, too.  Or it could just be the fact that I actually have read this book before.  But either way, it seemed very similar to the first book.

The characterization may have had something to do with that, too.  Holly and Butler were exactly the same as they were in book one.  Artemis was, too, but I got to see more of a softer side only hinted at in the first book.  But really, besides Artemis’s not-so-evil side, the characters were the same.

The plot, between goblin rebellions, evil fairies trying to take down the police, and rescuing Artemis’s father from the Mafiya, was plenty to hold my attention.  And I enjoyed it, really.  It was a lot like I remembered – it just seemed to have a more middle grade bent than I remembered.  Which wasn’t a good thing or a bad thing.  It was just a thing.

I really did like this book.  I just, unfortunately, didn’t find it as fantastic as I remembered it to be.

Science Fantasy

Artemis Fowl

This is the first of an Artemis Fowl review marathon – one review per day for eight days.  Today’s review is the first book in the series.  A week from today, I’ll post the review of the last book.

Artemis Fowl book cover
Image from artemis-fowl.com

Title:  Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl #1)

Author:  Eoin Colfer

Genre:  Fantasy

Artemis Fowl is many things – a genius, a millionaire, a criminal mastermind.  He’s also a twelve-year-old.  Artemis’s habit of thinking things through means he never loses, so he’s confident his scheme to get the Fowl family back to billionaire status will go just as planned.  But not even Artemis knows what he’s getting into when he kidnaps a fairy policewoman, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit.  But these fairies are no people to mess with.  Artemis may think he has them right where he wants them, but then they stop playing by the rules…

I’d read this book before, years ago, and loved it with a capital L.  And since the eighth and final Artemis Fowl book just came out, I decided to reread the rest of the series before I read book eight.

I still enjoyed the book.  It just seemed a little…younger than I remembered.  It seemed more like middle grade than YA.

I can’t really define what made it that way.  The plot wasn’t juvenile, the characters were fine, and it didn’t shy away from scary things.  It was just…I think it was the writing style, but the whole book had a very middle grade feel.

Holly and Artemis are the two main characters, even though Artemis was technically the villain.  Artemis was most certainly an evil genius, but I still liked him – mainly because I felt sorry for him.  After all, his dad’s missing and his mom’s certifiably insane.  And he’s exactly the kind of geeky kid that would be picked on in school.  (If he didn’t have a bodyguard, that is.)

Holly, I liked as well.  She was basically the “test case” for female LEPrecon officers, and she wasn’t exactly the follow-the-rules-without-question kind of elf.  I enjoyed her impulsivity and her stubbornness.  And when it was Holly versus Artemis, I honestly wanted both of them to win – I didn’t like either one better than the other.

I loved Colfer’s unique take on fairies – short, magical people living underground and with their own jobs, businesses, and police forces.  It was like a normal city, except populated by elves, pixies, dwarves, and other not-so-normal beings.

The plot – Artemis’s plan to trick the fairies out of their gold (which involved kidnapping Holly), and the LEPrecon unit’s attempt to stop him – was just as fun as I remembered.  And, really, I think the biggest reason it was so interesting was Artemis and his ability to stay one step ahead of everything and everyone.  (Although, really, someone like Artemis would be the only person capable of pulling something like that off.)

Like I said, there’s nothing about the plot or the characters that gives this book a middle-grade vibe – I have to believe it’s entirely in the writing style.  Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, but I didn’t remember it being more of a middle grade book.

Science Fantasy

User Unfriendly

User Unfriendly cover
Image from BOOKHOUND

Title:  User Unfriendly

Author:  Vivian Vande Velde

Genre:  Science Fantasy

It’s the most advanced computer role-playing game ever – when you play, you’re really there.  The game plugs directly into your brain, making you feel like you’re actually in a world teeming with evil creatures, danger-filled fortresses, and malevolent magics.  For Arvin Rizalli and his friends, all it takes is a little hacking to get in with no cash up front and no questions asked…and no hope of rescue when the game goes horribly wrong.

I’ve read all of Vivian Vande Velde’s books that my library has.  They were all fantasy, and I loved them all.  So when I saw her name on this book, I snatched it right up.  And then I looked at it and said “Vivian Vande Velde wrote a science fiction book?”

But despite the fact that it’s actually sci-fi, I kept forgetting.  Maybe it was the fact that it took place almost exclusively in a fantasy role-playing game.  Maybe it was the fact that everyone had the forms of dwarfs and wizards and elves.  Maybe it was all the magic.  But no matter what it was, this felt more like fantasy than anything.

I could tell that Arvin/Harek (I don’t know which to call him) was a character that Vivian Vande Velde wrote, based on her other books I’ve read.  He has a wry outlook on things, wishes he had good ideas, and feels like everyone gangs up on him.  Some of his commentary on the story just cracked me up.  Despite the fact that he’s Harek, an elf, in the game, he seemed more like a regular boy.  Of course, that could be just because he’s narrating, so I know what he’s thinking.

Even though Cornelius was actually a teenage boy, he acted quite a bit like an old man.  Well, an old man who can shoot lightning and create light and illusions and do other sorts of wizardy stuff.

Feordin was so dwarfish, I had a hard time that he was really a kid pretending to be a dwarf.  He’s got the don’t-mess-with-me-I-may-be-short-but-I’m-not-puny attitude down, and he’s gruff and sometimes grumpy and whatever other synonyms for “dwarf” you can come up with.

Thea, despite the fact that she was an elf, seemed more like an average human girl.  But when they’re stuck in a fantasy role-playing game, nobody seems entirely like an average human.

I didn’t get much of an impression from Nocona.  For a good chunk in the middle of the book, the group split up and he went with the group that Arvin/Harek wasn’t in.  For most of the rest of it, he was either really quiet, or angry and snappish.  But I think I can blame the angry snappishness on a development named Wolstan.

I really liked Robin – he wasn’t entirely comic relief, but he was always optimistic and mischievous.  Marian, I didn’t like quite so much; I agreed with Arvin/Harek that she was bossy.  But I can’t say too much about either of them without giving away a major plot twist.

I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like this before.  Science fiction and fantasy are two totally different genres, so I’m surprised that they could be combined – let alone be combined well!  Everything from sand hands to magic swords and spells to dragons and orcs was definitely fantasy.  And then there were the non-player characters (who Arvin/Harek identified as such) and occasional reminders that it’s “just a game.”  But there wasn’t quite enough of those kind of reminders to make me say “Oh, this is definitely sci-fi.”

I do believe I’ve mentioned this before, but despite this being science fiction, fans of Vivian Vande Velde won’t be disappointed.