Mostly about Artemis Fowl

With YBP kind of headbutting me for victory (that sounds stupid because it is), I’ve got the old new idea itch back in force. Yesterday I was messing about on the interwebs and then had to make two book covers to put those ideas in stasis. They are not bad–not amazing, either, but what do you want with morgue files and an hour in Photoshop 7.

One of them is an idea and cover for the pseudonym I mentioned ages back. I didn’t give the name, and I doubt I will, since the purpose of a pseudonym is to mask one’s identity. Well, one of the purposes.

Lately I have had more of a chance to read! I’ve been diving into my Artemis Fowl books again, and my editor face is getting more rigor.

That sounds weird. It is, too. I love these books. I used to bemoan their fate as less successful than Harry Potter. However, with my editor face, I can actually see why that happened.

At first, I (mistakenly) assumed that it was due to the fact that the protagonists were wrongly seen as similar. Not that I don’t think it’s fully within the capabilities of the masses to be that stupid. Just like people have thought that Ponder Stibbons is copying off of Harry Potter (despite his first appearance in the Discworld Books preceding Harry by roughly seven years), I’m sure at least some people thought that two preteen boys in magical settings meant that the books were the same and choosing one meant bypassing the other.

But I’ve come to realise that the real problem has more to do with technical skill. I have my problems with Harry Potter, but it’s a solid story, written very well, barring some hiccups in the first book. Lapses such as a shift into a different narrative style (phrases like “our story” and “little did he know”), for example. When I say technical skill, I mean the actual word-smithing ability displayed.

Eoin Colfer has some amazing ideas. He thinks up things that I would give up teeth to have invented myself. But in technical aspects, his writing can be almost poor. I’ve read the first three Artemis Fowl books, The Wishlist, and The Supernaturalist. I have only analysed the AF books, so I can’t say it’s like that across the board. It may just be that series.

It’s a hard thing to say about one of my favourite authors, and within one of my favourite series he has written. The ideas are, in my opinion, superior to most of the content in Harry Potter. The characters are more interesting–compare Juliet Butler to Ginny Weasley, for instance–and the situations are (at least initially) more pressing and (in my opinion, throughout) more original.

But the omniscient point of view is not always well done. It shifts too often, and his style is so solid that it begs for more dedicated third person. Many turns of phrase are often repeated, lessening the punch of what was at first an impressive bit of writing.
“Now my dear readers” type comments are unwelcome, but show up. Not that bad, but clear fourth-wall-breakers.

There are probably some other things that bugged me, but here’s the thing: I only noticed them. At no point did any of the technical ouches make me want to stop reading. The stories are great. The characters are compelling and sympathetic. The ideas are bloody awesome.

And for once, despite the editor face, that is all that has to matter.

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