The Artemis Fowl series has always been superbly written and brilliantly conceived, with an astonishing array of humor, techno-gadgets, mind-bending plots, daredevil escapes and rescues… frankly, they have a tendency to leave one dizzy — but enchanted.
And The Last Colony is better than the previous installments.
There are many reasons for this. First, there were at least three places where Colfer could have stopped writing, wrapped the book up, given it a different title, and shipped it off to his publisher and wait to collect his generous royalty checks. But he didn’t. He took us from climax to climax as if we rode a roller coaster, each one at least as exciting and breathtaking as the last — if not more so.
Second, Colfer introduces a magnificent new character, Minerva, a 12-year old girl who is quite similar to the 12-year old Artemis we met in the first book. Artemis has a nemesis. Third, and perhaps most importantly, Artemis himself has changed. He is fully in possession of a conscience now, is 14-years old, and finds himself quite uncomfortably pubescent.
As always, Colfer writes in a very loose third-person omniscient voice, hopping from character to character. This is dangerous, unless the author has a firm grasp on all of the elements of his story. Luckily, Colfer does. It’s a rare author that can take us into the enemy camp, show us who they are, how they live, their blueprints for whatever foul act they plan to commit, and still leave the pages of the book dripping with tension.
The demands that Colfer places on Artemis are staggering, and by extension the demands he places on himself as a writer are similarly so. To not violate Artemis’ core-identity, yet have him find his way with the use of a moral compass, is virtually unthinkable. But Colfer did it. Artemis grew, he changed, but yet he was still Artemis at heart. Brilliant, conniving, and, when need be, ruthless. Ruthless… and still a good guy? Yup.
I’m thankful that Colfer didn’t take the easy way out, and that he pushed himself harder and further than I’ve seen him do yet.