We got Artemis Fowl, the audio book, to listen to during our move. This didn't work as planned since the moving truck didn't have a way to plug in the iPhone to the radio. We have an FM receiver to use instead, but the reception and interference were so bad that we couldn't understand most of the story. So listening to it was put on hold, I heard just enough of the story to know that I wanted to finish it. The narrator, Nathanial Parker, was excellent, his voice intoxicating. His delivery and voices fit perfectly with the story.
I was unaware when I began listening to the book that the main character, Artemis, was actually an anti-hero. This was a pleasant surprise, it added a nice twist to this YA book for me. I knew that it wouldn't quite follow the formula that many books for children do. The humor is apparent right away, though it is very subtle (and a bit of what we'd call British) in some places. Colfer utilizes a very high level of vocabulary, always a plus in works aimed at children. He does this in a manner that not only teaches the young readers new words, but increases the comedic effect of the scenes. The humor is well balanced by the action scenes, which come to life through the words used to describe them.
Our anti-hero is a young genius from a very wealthy family. His father has disappeared, his mother has lost her mind, and he is trying to regain the family fortune. To achieve his aims, he develops a complex plan to exploit the Faerie population of the world.
On the other side of the conflict are the faeries, the narrative focuses on LEPrecon Holly Short. She is the first female LEP officer, and therefore has a lot to prove to herself and the military complex. Holly is thrown in Artemis' path after a mission goes horribly wrong and she is ordered to go to the surface to recharge her magic.
One aspect I found interesting is that the Faerie equipment wasn't strictly magic based, they combined the best of their magical knowledge with science. The faeries have gone underground, literally, but are also wired into the human's ("Mud People") satellite network to keep tabs on us.
I recommend this for a road trip or just an enjoyable read. This book would work great as a read aloud for the whole family, including the teenagers.