Monday, August 6, 2012

The Last Guardian

The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl #8)
Author: Eoin Colfer
Genre: Supernatural | Fantasy | Young Adult
Release Date: July 10th, 2012

Oh god. It's finally over.

 This has got to be the most overused, overwritten and overdone series in existence. I'm not saying it's bad or even shoddy writing. I'm just saying...dude you need to let that dead horse rest. It's past its prime. It's time to let it go to the green meadows in the sky.

This is the 8th book in the Artemis Fowl series. The 3rd book was the final book that I consider to still be on the peak of the literary mountain in terms of enjoyability and from there on, with every additional book it went swiftly downhill. Artemis Fowl is no longer cool. He became this bratty, whiny and self-conscious teenager wallowing in his doubts instead of the cold, infallible and self-assured genius that we were accustomed to seeing. He should have been killed oh so many times and perhaps with his death, we would have been able to end this with an "oh damn, that was some deep shit. It hit me right in the feels", and perhaps I could have looked back at the Artemis Fowl series with fondness. Instead I'm just fed up with it entirely.

The general problem with the later Artemis Fowl books is that the plot is overly random. The fact that Colfer is not an overly skilled world-builder only accentuates that problem. If Artemis Fowl was of an epic-fantasy standard, this wouldn't be so bad. He would have known to laid down the groundwork for all this in his earlier books but instead he has to recycle the same old concepts and characters over and over again, albeit in increasingly unbelievable settings and turn of events.

He's more of the type that goes, "Oh look at that. There's something there in that old familiar place that you didn't know about before BECAUSE I didn't tell you about it. Heck, even I didn't know about it myself until I spontaneously wrote it!" There was no firm groundwork laid in the previous books for this latest installment.  That, and the constant technological/plot deus ex machinas only served to highlight the fact that there is no reason for there to be a sequel.

Ok this was supposed to be somewhat funny (though I failed to do more than smile in amusement), so I guess I could be becoming *gasp* immune to Colfer's brand of humor. After all, 8 books of this (10 if I include the Supernaturalist and that in-betweener, the 7th Dwarf) would probably cause that.

Now let's address the bits of plot that really ruined it for me. First of all, a soft and kind Artemis just rubs me the WRONG way. He's even more of a pussy in this book. I liked it more when he was badass and confident in his superiority, so much so that you know that he will come up with something to save the day. Lately it's becoming more like "What if I mess up and someone dies?!" You can see this from the fact that after his plan A fails, he suddenly freezes up. The pressure of failure got to him. The fact that his plan did not succeed messed with his mind so much that his indecision nearly cost his friends their lives.

Oh and how about Butler you ask? He becomes next to useless in this book. In fact, if he were missing entirely from the novel you probably wouldn't have noticed. He gets knocked out of commission so many times that you wonder if the great Butler has been reduced to the status of an extra, or even a plot filler to pad the page count with. On the other hand, Mulch is still the ever present Wizard-archetypal character for Artemis Fowl. His dwarf skills is the "magic" that saves Artemis and co. time after time in the novels. Whenever Colfer can't think of anything else, in comes Mulch Diggums to save the day. 

For those of you who were hoping for romance between Holly and Artemis, don't expect to see any. Colfer teased us constantly with the potential of some luuurve between the two, but somehow in his rush to end the series with bang, he neglected to expand upon it properly. Sure, there are hints of it here and there but nothing substantial actually comes of it. It would have been better to have excluded elements of it completely so that the story focused entirely on the action bits instead of trying to make us pine for something that wasn't meant to be.

Now for the ending. This part unfortunately is a bit of a spoiler. The ending wasn't masterfully done. He tried to do a Nathaniel (fans of the Bartimaeus Trilogy will get the reference), but ended up failing hard when he didn't go all the way. He wrote in a plot backdoor in case this isn't really the end. Colfer basically said, "Let's have this happen just in case I want to milk this cash cow later if my other books flop." 

Let's hope I'm wrong about that possibility and that this is really the end.

Cover: 8
Characters: 5
Story: 5

Overall:  5/10 (2.5 Stars)
Comment : Unless you're a hardcore fan of the entire Artemis Fowl series (and not just the holy trinity / first three books) then you're better off borrowing this book from a friend or the local library.