Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Children’s Books: The Time Paradox: Artemis Fowl Book 6 by Eoin Colfer

In Eoin Colfer’s The Time Paradox: Artemis Fowl Book 6, and only a short time after returning from Limbo, saving an entire fairy species and finding the world has moved on by three years, 14-year-old Artemis -- who should be closer to 18 by now -- has another crisis to deal with. His beloved mother is dying of a magical plague that nearly destroyed the main fairy race some time ago. The only cure for it lies in the past, in an animal the younger Artemis had helped to wipe out.

Time travel is possible with the help of demon warlock Number 1, so Artemis travels back nearly eight years with his friend, fairy police operative Captain Holly Short, in hopes of changing the past. But older Artemis has developed a set of ethics and, although he’s still a genius, he has to compete with his younger self who is a criminal genius and firmly convinced that the end justifies the means. Also, he wonders what Holly will say when he has to confess to her the lie he told to convince her to come along on the time journey.

The pair soon find themselves in the middle of a non-stop adventure involving people from their past -- friends, friends-to-be and one particularly nasty enemy. They’re also having to fight to keep their precious almost-extinct animal from the clutches of a crazy cult that hates animals so much that the members are mostly vegetarians who will happily wipe out entire species but won’t eat them!

As with all Eoin Colfer’s novels I have read, I happily sat back and let myself be swept along. The author has cleverly worked out his time paradox so that the ending explains things about the beginning of the series. Despite that, there are hints that this is not the last in the series, though he’ll have to end it some time -- I mean, how long can Artemis stay a teenager? And what about Minerva, the girl genius he met in the last novel? Will she turn up again?

As in the previous novel, there are “Gnommish” letters forming a message at the bottom of the pages, but I can’t tell you what they say because there is no key at the back of this one. I think there should have been, since it’s less bother than having to go back and haul out Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony. I simply ignored the letters and enjoyed the story.

One more little nit-pick. The novel takes place over the space of three days. During that time, almost nobody seems to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom. Not just that they don’t -- they don’t have time to do it! Well, maybe younger Artemis does, because he has his faithful bodyguard Butler to pilot the plane and make arrangements for him. But present-day Artemis and Holly don’t. Now, it may be that fairy biology allows them to stay awake for long periods (and by the way, fairies do go to the bathroom, as is mentioned in passing). But older Artemis is awake -- apart from a bit of unconsciousness -- the whole time. He gets tired now and then and finally sleeps when the main danger is over. But that’s after three days of running around from Ireland to Africa and back and travelling through time.

Still, the book is a fine addition to this delightful universe. I’ve said it before and will say it again: this series is going to be a classic.

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