Published: July 10 2012
Publisher: Puffin Books
Genre: Junior Fiction/Young Adult Fantasy
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – 5 Stars
Opal Koboi, power-crazed pixie is plotting to exterminate mankind and become fairy queen.
If she succeeds, the spirits of long-dead fairy warriors will rise from the earth, inhabit the nearest available bodies and wreak mass destruction. But what happens if those nearest include crows, or deer, or badgers, – or two curious little boys by the names of Myles and Beckett Fowl?
Yes, it’s true. Criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl’s four year old brothers could be involved in destroying the human race. Can Artemis and Captain Holly Short of the Lower Elements Police stop Opal and prevent the end of the world?
Finishing The Last Guardian was like finishing Looking for Alaska and The Book of Lost Things. It is just so divinely written, perfectly executed in its story, storytelling and structure, and just leaves you so emotional and filled with joy and feelings of sadness and happiness and all those half-half emotions, that you just have to stop and sit and just recover for about half an hour to a fortnight.
This final story in the Artemis series and one that exits with a lot of grace, a lot of action, a lot of laughter, as well as suspense and adventure, just like we have come to expect from Colfer and all his characters. As the blurb reveals, an old foe has returned to seek power and most likely world destruction, and once again it is Opal Koboi. There is a point where you do start to marvel at Opal, her plans are extremely clever and complicated, and they are not basic smash and grabs, there is an eerie patience in her that adds to her danger. She is willing to wait for what she wants and doesn’t really care who gets in her way.
Her intent this time around is to bring ancient fairy warriors back from their long-dead state and wreak havoc on the land to bring about the end of humanity. So a little more smash and grab than before but with a great level of complexity attached. After seemingly escaping a paradox in the previous book, Opal creates a new one, this time one that impacts not only on the Underworld, but the human world as well. With the human world in total chaos, and the Underworld trying to stay standing, there is a lot of pressure for Artemis to fix things before they get any worse.
I liked the idea behind Opals plan, it was a great, grand, last book plot, one that I think Opal was ideal at leading. There are so many small details and connections throughout that make it work. Being Opal’s plan there are many individual factors that must work, but there are limitations when stage one events do not always go to plan which creates the suspense and drama.
Colfer leads us into the story and main events with an even pace where we see the resolution of the previous book, one I was very glad about, and then we’re lulled into a nice rhythm and safety before everything erupts. Then you relish as you try and keep track of the multiple storylines that are running simultaneously, all eventuating in the inevitable collision where your anxiety and suspense really develop the further you read.
It is hard not to make this sound like a fast paced action book, and in a way it is, but it also isn’t. If you know the previous Fowl books you know the pace Colfer provides. It is one where there is a lot happening, a lot of drama and action, but while it seems you are racing through things you really aren’t. You get caught up in the emotion and the theories running through your mind about what is going to happen next and you get so involved that it doesn’t matter how Colfer paces it, it flows seamlessly and you just ride it along, opened eyed and mouth agape from what has happened and what on earth possible will next.
We are shown a lot more of the twins Myles and Beckett this time around, as well as Juliet which is nice, though not always as we’d expect. As characters the twins really do grow on you, even in this book when they are not always themselves, there is a strange charm displayed by a four year old possessed by an ancient fairy spirit. When they are not possessed the true Fowl nature and Artemis influence emerges again which either delights you, or you could just think they are already that pretentious at four, where will they go from here? It could go either way. Though Colfer’s decision about the differences between Beckett and Myles is interesting, while it appears one is much further advanced, there are moments when they are both as formidable and intellectual as each other.
What I also enjoyed what that even as the series comes to an end we are still learning about The People, their history and humanity’s role in their past, not to mention more secrets of the Fowls and their estate. It just goes to show that even in the final book there are still things to learn.
There also seems to be a lot more humour and strange comments from characters this time around. With the stakes so high and with the excitement almost continual in some places, the comments made sound extremely confusing out of context and certainly are abnormal at the best of times. There is something about Artemis and the others that the more peril they are in and the worse things become, the more sarcasm that escapes their mouths. Always a bonus I must say, but even the less sarcastic simple statements of fact can be fairly humorous at times.
Colfer writes in much the same way he always has, it is essentially just another Artemis Fowl book, but with everything that happens in this book that really isn’t true. It is the ultimate Artemis Fowl book. The outcome of seven previous books, watching that little twelve year old grow up through the pages and marvelling at all his antics, not to mention the world of The People, all comes together in 306 pages of bliss.
Moving away from the general drama of Opal and her grand plan, there are some gorgeous moments about the characters. We really see just what the past eight books have done not only to themselves, but to their friendships and outlook on the world. Half the wonderfulness of this book is the characters and who they have become.
As usual Colfer connects to his previous works, and the events in the previous book are not forgotten, not by a long shot. What is wonderful is that even all the emotion we had for Artemis in the previous book resurfaces and we see that even though he is cured, there remains a fear of the Complex returning. It is only happens occasionally but there is a certain moment I adored, it is almost a throw away sentence that you could miss, but in that simple sentence you know that under the chaos around him and the confidence he projects, you know the lingering fear remains that he will return to what he was. In the previous book we s how he saw himself, saw how he saw the world and the people around it, and it rightly terrified him. And in that simple moment where he has to double check he hasn’t reverted you see that he is truly petrified of it returning, and Butler sees it and it is just something that makes Artemis so much more beautiful as a person.
The close friendship of all the characters really shines here, especially the relationship between Artemis and Butler, and Holly and Artemis. With both worlds on the verge of collapsing Colfer keeps the focus well on Opal and certain key characters, drifting only when necessary. You almost forget that humanity is falling apart in the distance, but the relationships really help drive this narrative as much as the events.
As a final book the sense that things are being wrapped up is there, but you do not even notice at the time. Colfer weaves it in from the beginning so we gradually see how things have changed and where characters are in their lives. Familiar faces return, new faces are introduced and you’re almost lulled into thinking it is just another Fowl novel but there is too much emotion and joy and wonderment to ignore that this is Artemis’ finest hour and Colfer is going to make it tug at your emotions through the entire thing, laughing, crying or otherwise. I am giving nothing else away but emotion and vagueness as it is customary, because as another reviewer rightly put it, “to give anything away would be far more criminal than anything Artemis has got up to in the past”.
It is a bit sad to have finished the series, but I couldn’t think of a better way to go out. This book, its beginning, the middle, the ending (oh god the ending!), the detail, the conflicts, the development, the reflection, the references you only just remember in the nick of time, it is utter perfection and an excellent way to conclude a series.
Total, utter, perfection.