Posts Tagged ‘Eoin Colfer’

After having read several of the Artemis Fowl books, and The Wish List, I decided to dig deeper into Eoin Colfer’s works. That’s where I came across Airman, a standalone novel, published in 2008.

Story overview:
In the 19th century (1890s), a ten year old boy named Conor Broekhart is a resident of the Saltee islands (a real place off the Irish coast). A close friend of the young princess, Conor finds himself saving her from a burning building.

Having been knighted and regarded as a hero, Conor trains under a Frenchman named Victor Vigny. For the next four years he learns how to become a brilliant scientist and a great swordsmen.

Unfortunately for Conor, he draws the attention of Marshall Bonvilain. A man who kills the king and frames Conor’s mentor, Victor for the crime—after having killed him too. Bonvilain ships Conor off to the prison island of Little Saltee, while deceiving Conor’s parents into thinking that he was killed protecting the king, and Conor into falsely believing that his parents disowned him because they thought he was involved with the king’s death. Conor spends the next three years living with a new identity and seeking a way to free himself of his terrible fate.

My thoughts:
I thought that the narrator voice was a little heavy in the beginning, but after awhile the story picked up and grabbed my attention. By the end I was anxiously anticipating the outcome. Good read. With a title like Airman, I figured I was going to read a story about a flying boy. Well, there is some of that, but the book closer resembles The Count of Monte Cristo. Prison stories of misunderstanding and identity swamping just never get old.

Things to consider:
Overall, this tale contained no inappropriate content. There’s a few scenes of violence, but nothing that doesn’t fit into the mold of this type of story. No sexual situations or harsh use of language. I recommend for pre-teen and older. Both girls and boys, though, perhaps, slightly more toward boys.

Opportunities for discussion:
Misunderstandings plague the best of us, as it did to Conor. His family believed him to be dead, and he believe that his family didn’t care about him. There are people out there like Bonvilain who are deceptive, but there are also misleading thoughts in our own minds, which can be just as bad. It’s easy to doubt the love of family, but sometimes that has more to do with failing to understand their true feelings. Tell your children that, before they think someone is trying to hurt them (such as a brother or sister), have them take a moment to communicate and try to understand where that person is coming from. In doing so there just might be a change of heart for both parties.

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Due to my fondness for the Artemis Fowl series, I decided to give this book a shot. Unlike Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, this book is a single novel; since there isn’t a large commitment, those of you who are reluctant to invest in a new series can get away with a nice, shorter read.

Story overview:

The setting is modern day Ireland. We begin with a fourteen-year-old girl (Meg Finn) who breaks into an old man’s (Lowrie McCall) home to steal his retirement money. She is accompanied by the troublesome Belch Brennan and his vicious dog. Unfortunately for them, Lowrie meets the robbers with a gun. Unfortunately for Lowrie, Belch’s dog was able to move faster. Meg stops Blech from killing the old man, but this caused the boy to turn his anger on her instead.

The result was the death of both Meg and Belch (and his dog). Belch inadvertently merges with the body of his dog as he is hurled to the fiery pits of Hell. Meg on the other hand, with her final act of goodness, finds that she is inbetween both Heaven and Hell. Because of this she is given the opportunity to go back to earth as a ghost and try to make things right. By doing so she would offset the balance and be allowed to enter the gates of eternal paradise.

Satan has another thing in mind. His subordinate sends the dog-boy version of Belch back to the land of the living to stop Meg from achieving her goal, and thus, send her to Hell. What was the goal to be exact? To help Lowrie (the old man she tried to rob, but ended up saving) accomplish his Bucket List before his heart gives out. With odds against her, Meg does all she can to fulfill a dying man’s dream, and Belch does all he can to stop her.

My thoughts:

Eoin Colfer is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. His use of wit, quality of writing, and dynamic range of characters are refreshing and a joy to read. I love the subtleties and character conversations in The Wish List. It’s a satisfying story with a satisfying ending. Well worth a read.

Things to consider:

The first thing I want to make clear here is that this is a work of fiction. The description of Heaven and Hell (and how one gets there) is not meant to be taken theologically. Every author runs the risk of stepping on toes when writing on such a topic, but Colfer gets by with this because he lightens the tone. The story is not meant to be taken literally, but figuratively. With this in mind, as a parent, be sure to explain this to your children; just in case they don’t understand the difference. There are a few disturbing scenes that may bother younger children, but overall a fairly clean tale. No sexual content, extensive foul language, or excess of violence. Great for preteens plus, and equally targeted to both girls and boys.

Opportunities for discussion:

This was a hard one for me because I’ve gone back and forth with trying to decided if I should (1) approach the issues Christians will have, or (2) address the true meaning behind the story. So I will briefly attempt to do both. First, this story makes it sound like a person is measured by their deeds, good and bad, and is then sent to Heaven or Hell based on which they did more of. In a theological sense, we know that even the best of deeds is not good enough. It would be like arguing that $100 for a Lamborghini Reventon is better than $0.50. Both fall far short of the $1,600,000 price tag. As a believer, the only way we can afford the cost of an eternal paradise is to accept it as a free gift. Anything else would only be an insult to the giver.

Secondly, there’s a powerful message of redemption in the story. Even though one’s passage to the “pearly gates” is not defined by deeds, we are called to be people of a certain sort. That is, people who seek to do good rather than wickedness. Both Meg Finn and Lowrie McCall discovered this when finalizing the unsolved areas of their lives. One of the primary being that vengeance does not lead to life; forgiveness does. In a biblical sense, we are told that for us to acquire forgiveness from the Father we must also extend it to our fellow man. Be sure to talk to your kids about these things after they read the story. We don’t want them to miss out on the great messages behind the text.

Normally I like to start out with the first book in a series, and then move on to another series just to keep things fresh. At a later time, I often revisit the second book, but in this case I made an exception. Why? Simple. I couldn’t wait. I wanted to see what happened next.

In the previous story of Artemis Fowl, we have a boy with a sick mother and a lost (presumed dead) father. The family happens to have a history of thievery, and Artemis takes advantage of his position in the most peculiar way: by going after Irish myths, which just so happen to contain a certain amount of truth. One of which is the existence of elves and “LEPrecon” gold. Things didn’t go the way he had hoped, but in the end, Artemis was victorious.

Story overview:

Artemis is a year older and a little wiser. In fact, for a thirteen-year-old, his IQ has no equal, but he is still a child and the desire to find his father continues to burn. One day, while frustrating the school’s psychologist, Artemis receives a call from Butler, his faithful body guard and closest friend. Artemis learns that his father was captured by the Russian Mafia and is being held for ransom.

Thankfully for Artemis, several leagues underground, the LEPrecon is experiencing troubles of their own when goblins show up with outlawed weapons. Captain Holly Short suspects Artemis as their supplier, but soon discovers his innocence. The situation puts Artemis in a good position to offer aid to the LEPrecon in return for their help with his father.

Things go from bad to worse as the true minds behind the attacks are discovered by Foaly—the intelligent centaur in charge of technology—but a little too late, as Foaly is setup to take the blame for the incident. With help from the dwarf, Mulch Diggums; Artemis; Commander Julius Root; and Butler, put away their differences to try and save the Lower Elements and Artemis’s father.

My thoughts:

I was surprised that I actually liked this book better than the first one. The story took on an entirely different plot scheme from the last novel, and was even more exciting. Both are page turners and worthy of a good mention. I will for sure be putting the third novel on my list of must reads. As of now, a seventh book is scheduled to be released on July 20, 2010, so I have some catching up to do.

Things to consider:

There is very little I would consider questionable in this book. Safely share this with your twelve-year-old, teens, and even your peers. Enjoyable for all ages.

Opportunities for discussion:

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what that means to me.” The old 1967 song by Aretha Franklin touches upon an important theme in this book. Artemis happens to be a genius, and because of this, he finds it difficult to look up to anyone as his equal. Later in the novel, Artemis discovers that he has the utmost respect for Butler, who is able to perform tasks that Artemis can only dream about. This is a great time to ask your children who they respect and why. You may be surprised.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, Book 1) by Eoin Colfer

I came across this book a little while back at a used bookstore. I picked up a copy for my Aunt as a Christmas gift, but had not yet had a chance to read it myself.

Since I was thoroughly disappointed with The Alchemyst (which had practically nothing to do with alchemy), I was a little worried about yet another Irish novel. Thankful, like most biases, these were unfounded, and Artemis Fowl could not be anymore night and day.

This is the first book in a three book series (update: 04/13/10 – there are currently seven known books in the series), and I can say for sure, I will be adding the next to my list.

Story overview:

Artemis Fowl II is a twelve-year-old boy genius, who comes from a family with a long history of being professional thieves. With his father missing for some time and his mother not in her right mind, Artemis is free to roam about—with help from his abnormally strong manservant, Butler—and execute his latest scheme.

His current ambition is directed at the race of elves in an attempt to acquire their gold and restore his family’s fortune. To accomplish this, Artemis locates and tricks an elf into letting him make a copy of their (the race’s) secret book. After translating this book, the young boy genius plots out a way to find and capture another elf to use as a hostage.

We learn that Leprechauns are actually known as LEPrecon, who are a special recon force that live miles underground. Captain Holly Short, the first female member of LEP, had nothing but problems trying to keep her position with Commander Julius Root always breathing down her back. If this was not bad enough, she finds herself as Artemis’s captive. Commander Root makes this his priority case to (1) save Holly, and (2) protect the hidden identity of their race. Artemis may have gotten a little over his head on this one, but somehow manages to stay on target.

My thoughts:

I quite enjoyed this one. Normally I am not a big fan of constant point-of-view switches, but these are done smoothly and sensibly; not disjointing at all. The characters are great fun to follow along, and the story had me wanting to jump right back in to see what happened next.

Things to consider:

This is a pretty harmless tale. Good for boys and girls in their preteens and older. There is a gory scene when Butler fights a Troll, some slight mentions to curses (done with good humor), and crude descriptions of a Dwarf’s gas, but all are done tastefully.

Opportunities for discussion:

The moral question arises of how one should treat their enemy. As did Artemis, who struggled with the human-like appearance of his captured elf, Holly. It was Holly who showed Artemis how one should treat their enemies, as she tried to save Artemis and his crew. This reminded me of the Bible verse, Matthew 5:43-44, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” This opens a good discussion for you and your children/child.