I am in two minds about this book. On the one hand, it is well written. Colfer has a magic (sorry) way with words and his prose flows with ease. On the other, it feels formulaic. Nothing develops. Characters are brought on and moved off like pieces in order to advance a shaky plot.
Now, I know it is not meant to be great ‘literature’, but that hasn’t stopped genuine character development in the past. Here we are told about people’s feelings as well as being spoon fed plot development. As for the central thesis, well it might satisfy a young reader (until the clunky exposition on the paradox at the end), but it left this adult, who is normally happy to suspend his disbelief, feeling far from satisfied.
Given the potential for fun and mayhem inherent in the notion of time travel (and already embodied in the Artemis Fowl books), we are surprisingly offered a clunky plot that is simply a series of set pieces strung together, and way too much of an attempt to paint Artemis Fowl with a deep green hue. Set ups are obvious. The villain is obvious.
Don’t get me wrong. This is so far ahead of some books for children they are nowhere in sight. But you have to wonder if Artemis Fowl shouldn’t be given a good, long rest before an excellent series is spoiled by ever more formulaic additions.