Tag Archives: young adult

14. “Artemis Fowl and the last guardian” by Eoin Colfer

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.

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21. “City of bones” by Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Walker Books, 2007
Page count: 448 pages

“City of bones” is the first part of The mortal instruments trilogy by Cassandra Clare. It’s the story of 15-year old Clary Fray who leads a perfectly ordinary life with her mom Jocelyn in New York. One night while she is at a punk club with her geeky friend Simon, Clary sees a stunningly attractive boy, Jace, on the dance floor. Following after him into a back room, she watches as Jace and his two friends Alec and Isabelle slay a demon right in front of her eyes. While Clary understandably is shocked to see a demon in real life, Jace and the others are equally stunned that she could see them and the demon, since normal people (“mundanes”) are not normally able to see through their disguises. The three teenagers are in fact Shadowhunters, a secret underground society whose purpose in life is to rid the world of demons. They do this through a combination of rigorous battle training, martial arts, and tattooing magic runes on their skin to enhance their natural prowess. And Shadowhunters are not the only secret society invisible to mundanes; they share the underworld by other downworlders such as vampires, faeries, warlocks, and warewolves.

Returning home, Clary finds her apartment wrecked and her mom missing. Searching through the flat for clues, Clary is attacked by a demon, but manages to kill it by shoving Jace’s steele (a tool for drawing runes) down its throat. No longer safe at home, Jace brings Clary to the Institute, a former gothic church now turned into a Shadowhunter sanctuary, where she meets Hodge, tutor and teacher for Jace and his adoptive siblings, Alec and Isabelle. Hodge calls for Jeremiah, a munk of the Silent Brothers order, to probe Clary’s mind in order to discover why she can see through magic disguises, but Jeremiah hits against a mental block in her mind. Clues in Clary’s fragmented memory identify Magnus Bane, the high warlock of Brooklyn, as the one who placed a magic spell on her memory. Clary, Simon and the three shadowhunters therefore crash a party that Magnus is hosting, but rather than getting the answers they are looking for, more problems arise as Simon is turned into a rat by a magic drink and is taken to a former hotel now inhabited by vampires. With the help of a teenage boy, Raphael, who lives next to the boarded-up hotel, Clary and Jace sneak into the hotel to rescue Simon, only to face a horde of angry vampires tipped off by Raphael, who is in fact the head honcho among the vampires…

In this trilogy Cassandra Clare employs a traditional fantasy story line in which the protagonist one day wakes up to who she really is, discovers her unknown magic abilities, and then sets out on a transformative journey accompanied by a few trusted friends in order to reach a goal. However, despite the formulaic storyline (which makes the twists and turns in the book fairly predictable to an experienced fantasy reader), City of bones succeeds because it does exactly what it sets out to do: it is a young adult fantasy novel, fast paced, and highly entertaining, with a loveable set of teenage heroes, an incredibly evil villain, and a modern, urban setting. What more can you ask of a fantasy novel to while away a Sunday afternoon?

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