Top critical review
The magic is gone
on August 19, 2003
Colfer fails miserably this time around to present us with a reason to keep the pages turning. There's something boring about his "really bad guy set to dominate the world with a new, sexy machine plot" and Artemis is getting to be just a bit too predictable and boring with all his genius. The People have lost their magic and are just bit players in something that reads like a botched script for Mission Impossible III.
The dynamics between Fowl and The People remain entirely unchanged and unimaginative; Holly and Foaly hate him/love him/help him - surprise, surprise, surprise. The stereotypical goons, the painfully failed attempts at "smart" dialogue, and the crappy two-dimensional character that is Butler's sister Julie cannot alter the fact that this is just another boring high-tech caper. We've got Neil Stephenson writing those much better. While the notion of bad-guy-meets-bad-guy is promising enough, Spiro is just such a pathetically developed cliche of a figure that we don't really care what happens to him or who he manages to hurt.
The only remotely interesting angle in this book could have been the change for the better that appears to have taken place in Fowl's father, but Colfer himself appears so surprised by that twist that he doesn't quite know what to do with it. Instead he trots out Mulch Diggums and his flatulent getaways, a couple of new gizmos and some sadly predictable special effects. He can't even be bothered to kill off a single character to keep things moving - Rowling showed that much courage and more in Order of the Phoenix.
After book two I had expected Colfer's problem to be the fact that we were starting to like his bad guy crime hero too much, but instead we simply have no reason to care about him any which way. What a sad waste.