Publisher: Puffin Books, 2012
Page count: 304 pages
This is the eight book in the series about the teenage genius and criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl. In this latest instalment, Artemis has finished a longer stay in the Lower Elements in order to be cured of the Atlantis complex (a fairy version of obsessive compulsive disorder by the sounds of it). Just as Artemis and Butler, his bodyguard, are about to return to the Fowl manor in Ireland an astonishing message is picked up by Foaly, the centaur techie: a younger version of Opal Koboi, the megalomaniac pixie whose sinister plans were thwarted in the nick of time by Artemis and Holly Shield in the prevous book, has now been taken hostage while the older Opal Koboi remains in prison.
The hostagetakers demand that the older Opal be released, or they will shoot the younger Opal, causing a time paradox that will trigger a self-destruct of all Koboi Technologies products in the Lower Elements as well as on earth. This is no idle threat as Koboi elements are incorporated into nigh-on all infrastructure, communications and weapons technology of the last five years or more. Moreover, the fairies have moral quealms about letting another creature be killed when it is in their power to stop it. Consequently, the Lower Elements Police (LEP) give in to the demands and release the older Opal into a shaft believed to minimise collateral damage if a time paradox does indeed take place. Unfortunately, this backfires when the older Opal escapes custody and the younger Opal is shot, triggering destruction of cataclysmic proportions both below and above ground.
Meanwhile, Artemis, Butler and Holly Short travel to Fowl manor because Artemis has recognised the background behind the hostagetakers as his own backyard. This means that when all hell breaks loose, the three of them are cut off from LEP support and fairy technology. Now they are the only thing standing between Opal Koboi and her evil plan to use black magic to open an ancient fairy lock that will wipe out all of humanity… This is made all the more difficult when Opal opens the first level of the lock, releasing dozens of ancient warriors whose spirits take over the bodies of among others Artemis’s twin brothers and Butler’s sister Juliet. How can Artemis and the others shoot to kill when the targets are their own family members?! For once, Artemis may have met a conundrum that even he is incapable of solving…
While I generally enjoy the Artemis Fowl series a lot, I feel that the concept of the superevil, megalomaniac pixie Opal Koboi has been used once too many already, and so the prospect of yet another story centred on her was hardly apt to inspire me to read this book. I was therefore almost halfway through the book before I genuinely got interested in the story and wanted to know how it ended. For a young adult book, this is a serious drawback as I think most teenagers would have ditched the book long before they reached the halfway point where the story begins to pick up. That said, “Artemis Fowl and the last guardian” is a story worth sticking with, because the second half is fastpaced and entertaining, just like the Artemis books of old. Thus, in summary, if you are a fan of Artemis and a patient soul, then you may just find yourself in for a treat reading this book. For the rest of you, stick to the earlier books in the series.